Mick Jones & Lou Gramm Explain How Diana Ross Inspired ‘Jukebox Hero The Musical’


Foreigner is a kind of bands whose songs you recognize, even in case you don't personal one in every of their albums. Their success within the late '70s and '80s amassed gross sales of some 75 million albums and netted 9 high 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, together with one No. 1.

Lou Gramm was the inimitable voice and some-time author, and Mick Jones the guitarist and foremost songwriter. Gramm left the band in 2003 (changed by Kelly Hansen), returning not too long ago to play the odd 40th anniversary present, however is in Toronto, alongside Jones, to see the songs in one other kind: sung by the younger forged of Jukebox Hero The Musical, the title of which is from the pair's smash from 1981's four album.

The theater manufacturing, spearheaded by Jones, managers Phil Carson and Stewart Young and jukebox theatre promoter Jeff Parry, was workshopped final summer season in Alberta and had its world premiere this week in Toronto. It closes Sunday evening.

Other Foreigner hits woven into the two-hour-and-20 minute present are "Cold As Ice," "Dirty White Boy," "Double Vision," "Feels Like The First Time," "Head Games," "Hot Blooded," "I Don't Want To Live Without You," "I Want To Know What Love Is," "Say You Will, "That Was Yesterday," "Urgent" and "Waiting For A Girl Like You." See, you recognize them, proper?

It was singer Diana Ross who planted the seed of a musical many years in the past primarily based on "Juke Box Hero." Jones wrote the lyric after he observed a child in Cincinnati ready 5 hours within the rain to satisfy Foreigner and was ushered backstage to observe the present, however Jukebox Hero The Musical isn't a few starry-eye Foreigner fan.

The e book was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, whose credit embody The Commitments and Across The Universe, and tells the twin story of a dying metal manufacturing unit and two musician brothers feuding over a woman; one leaves and joins the military (Mace Perry, positioned by David Michael Moore), whereas the opposite leaves and turns into a rock star (Ryan Perry, performed by Geordie Brown).

It is directed by Randy Johnson (A Night With Janis Joplin), choreographed and staged by Parker Esse (Shaw Festival's Me and My Girl, Grand Hotel), with music path orchestration, preparations and incidental music by Mark Camilleri (Celine Dion, Sting, Eric Clapton, Andrea Bocelli).

Billboard sat down with Jones and Gramm in Toronto earlier than the world premiere. Gramm, who solely discovered in regards to the manufacturing six weeks in the past, was much less chatty, however we did discover out about his plans since retiring from solo touring.

What had been the circumstances that led to Diana Ross suggesting "Juke Box Hero" could possibly be a musical? I wouldn't assume Foreigner and Diana Ross crossed paths lots.

Jones: It wouldn't have been a nasty combo really, I’ve to say [laughs].

Where did you see her that she made that remark?

It was in Atlanta. We had been each touring again to New York and we had been on this little VIP space and it was simply us within the room. I feel it was simply pre or put up The Wiz [1978]. She was getting concerned in theatrical manufacturing and out of the blue, she mentioned, "You know, you may have an excellent music. It might work as a musical. It's nice thought." It was "Juke Box Hero." I assumed, "Wow, she is aware of that music."

Gramm to Jones: Did Gene [Simmons] inform her that?

Jones: I'm undecided. Did she cowl it, you're saying?

Gramm: No, no, I used to be questioning if Gene Simmons…

Jones: Oh, they had been collectively at that time.

Gramm: Yeah, yeah.

Oh, so perhaps Gene performed it for Diana?

Gramm: Maybe.

I'm positive there's been many followers over time which have waited 5 hours within the rain to see Foreigner. Lou, do you bear in mind this man being introduced into the venue, soaking moist, to observe the present from aspect stage?

Gramm: I don't really, no.

Why did he encourage the lyric, Mick?

Jones: This simply stood out for me. I took pity on the child as a result of he had all of the albums and had all of the stuff to signal and he was drenched to the pores and skin. I invited him again and his eyes went [opens eyes wide, like the lyric 'saw stars in his eyes']. I bear in mind it clearly as a result of it was a little bit second, an emotional factor. And I recognized it with it a bit.

In what method?

Jones: The goals that I had once I was that age. I used to be by no means one to attend outdoors the stage door, however simply the spectacle, bringing that child in and we confirmed him the works. We had him on stage with us. He was on the aspect of the stage, and he was dwelling the dream.

You've by no means heard from him since, however there's at the moment a search to search out him. No one has stepped up and mentioned, "It was me? I stood outdoors within the rain for 5 hours and also you introduced me backstage and onstage"?

Jones: Maybe he doesn't even bear in mind it [laughs].

Have you set phrase out in Cincinnati?

Jones: Yeah, however I haven't heard a lot about it to inform you the reality. Would be sort of cool [to find him].

Gramm to Jones: Are radio stations trying?

Jones: Yeah, I feel so.

How do you begin on a undertaking like this? Do you say, "Here is our catalog"? Did you discuss to them about what the lyrics had been about?

Jones: I had recognized Dick, and Ian was a private buddy of mine. We acquired into the songs a bit, making an attempt to construct the large image of the place it was going and what the story would attempt to painting. It wasn't the verbatim story from the music. It was taken into one other space. It felt ultimately that it actually represented us and so they had been delicate to that. I knew them fairly nicely and socially and so they'd recognized me.

Do you want musicals? The rock world and the musical theater world are fairly separate.

Jones: I am going sometimes. I noticed the ABBA one, Mamma Mia. I went to see Rock of Ages; there was one thing about it that exaggerated an excessive amount of, making an attempt to get reactions.

Gramm: I noticed that too. I noticed Phantom [of the Opera] and it was spectacular.

Did you may have parameters? Don't make our songs too "present tuney." Would that be job of musical director?

Jones: Yes or the interpretation of the actor who’s singing. All these issues go under consideration. I'm positive as [the show] proceeds — and hopefully it will get a lifetime of its personal — that can develop much more. There's numerous dialogue in it too. The music is the principal.

Mick, you had been born in Portsmout [UK], which was an industrial city and naval port. Sting has his musical out now in Toronto, The Last Ship, in regards to the demise of the shipbuilding business. Does the story of a dying metal manufacturing unit resonate with you and your loved ones background?

Jones: Yeah, a whole lot of my household had been working class individuals. And I hold conscious of issues. I see what's taking place in America, for instance, what's taking place everywhere in the world. There's an amazing quantity of unemployment and no person appears to have the reply to it. You've acquired folks that have labored 35, 40 years within the job that’s their household, and all of the sudden it's torn aside at that time of their lives once they need to be having fun with it. They're victims of company greed, the entire capitalist company factor that we stay in. We've by no means been a political band. We've by no means written protest songs [but] I feel it's vital.

What's modified for the reason that workshop manufacturing of the musical in Alberta?

Jones: There's been music additions. One that the director and the producers heard that had not been offered however was on an album that we launched a couple of years again [2011's Acoustique & More]. It was a music ["Save Me"] that I wrote with my step-daughter Samantha [Ronson]. She's an excellent author and lyricist. And as quickly because the script-writers and the producer heard it, they mentioned, "It's gotta be within the present." It was written in a pop vein, after which when the band acquired maintain of it and the arranger, it utterly modified. It's a really poignant a part of the present now.

Are there plans to take Jukebox Hero to different cities and even to Broadway or Off-Broadway?

Jones: Obviously, that might be a dream come true. I hope it's going to resonate with individuals. From what I've seen already, it appears to be accepted. Boy, if it hits Broadway, even Off-Broadway, I'm open to that.

This is an effective way for these basic songs that folks know — even when they don't know they know them — to get extra life.

Jones: That's an attention-grabbing factor as a result of over time we weren't a band that was plastered over MTV on a regular basis. We by no means needed to take that sort of path. We weren't within the shiny magazines a lot.

Gramm: Where the picture was extra vital than the music, proper?

Jones: In a method, we had been quietly very profitable. Very usually, when individuals listened to the radio and so they hear the songs, they don't bear in mind essentially [which band it is]. They've acquired it a little bit alternative of about 4 perhaps — Journey, perhaps Boston who had been round after we first began, however now we have to remind them. Once they hear the primary chord, they assume, "Oh my god, is that them?"

Jukebox Hero isn't simply on your followers. It exposes your music to theater goers and probably to a more moderen technology — many of the forged weren't even born then — to revive the catalog or get extra juice out of it.

Jones: It is our dwelling. You have to pay attention to the alternatives to maintain the royalties coming in and all the opposite obligations now we have. It's a job, you recognize? It's our careers and what we do.

Lou, is it true that you simply're not going to be touring along with your solo band anymore?

Gramm: Yes.

Was that spur of the second while you made that announcement this previous December or had you been desirous about it?

Gramm: The announcement was spur of the second, however the resolution had been made some time in the past.

Why is that?

Gramm: I'm simply on the level now the place I'd like to show my consideration to individuals I really like and different issues that I take pleasure in.

What else do you take pleasure in doing?

Muscle vehicles.

Buying or fixing?

I’ve a small assortment. I take pleasure in fixing them and driving them. It's been a ardour of mine since earlier than I used to be sufficiently old to drive. And in Rochester, there's a really quick time the place you’ll be able to drive vehicles the place it's not snowing and it additionally occurs to be a time after we're touring probably the most. So I wish to put that point apart.

I learn that there's a risk that the 2 of you may work on new music, that demos have been despatched to one another?

Gramm: Oh yeah. There's a risk for that. For positive.

Jones: Yeah, undoubtedly. We've been so busy inform the reality. It's fairly exhausting. It's simply discovering that point when you’ll be able to take every week someplace, and even 5 or 6 days, simply to get collectively and attempt to assume again to the place we had been heading with the concepts. I listened to a few tracks final week and I undoubtedly heard some concepts in there which are fairly legitimate.