In a new interview with John Beaudin by RockHistoryMusic.com, original FOREIGN singer Lou Gramme he was asked what he thought of the band’s current leader, Kelly Hansenwho has been part of the group for almost two decades.
“Kelly Everything is going well” Lou said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “He’s a good singer. But I think Mike [Jones, FOREIGNER‘s founding guitarist and leader] really said Kelly, when he first joined the band, that he had to study me, because he sings these songs with the same musical innuendos, vocals and ad-libs as me. He imitates me. His voice it doesn’t sound like me, but he sings the songs like that I would sing them.
“Some people say, ‘Well, take that as a compliment, Lou.’ I don’t take that as a compliment.” Gram continued. “You’re a singer with a big band like that – use your voice and your style. Don’t hang up your coat my to hang up.
“I don’t think he should sing the songs verbatim like me,” Lou added. “Maybe sing a few parts. But let his own influences show – show the fans that It is the new singer now, not me.”
Asked how it was to share the stage with Hansen and other members of the current and original FOREIGN programming in 2017 and 2018 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the group, Lou said, “That was good. [Kelly] bouncing off the walls. He couldn’t stay still or sit still. After a song ended, I couldn’t even find a word to thank the audience or tell them that I was happy to be part of the reunion. At the end of the song, the last song hit, and there wasn’t a split second before he yelped at the audience… It was, like, ‘Jeez, you wanna shut up a minute ?’ “
In a hurry to know if it’s “over now” for him and FOREIGN, Lou said, “I think so, yes. I don’t want to be part of it. Well, Ian [McDonald, guitar] died and Ed Gagliardi [bass] deceased, even though he was not part of the reunion. Two original members of the six are now gone. And Mike is in very bad health. I think when the new FOREIGN plays, I heard he’s coming for a song, then ripples and exits the stage. [In the recent past] he would play the entire last half of the set. But then he was in the hospital again for weeks. He had heart problems and his recovery time was very long and tedious. And I heard he was going out for a song now – when he comes. Most of the time FOREIGN has no original FOREIGN members within it. »
Gram was the voice over FOREIGNthe greatest hits of, including “It feels like the first time” and “Cold as Ice” from the band’s self-titled debut in 1977, and later songs like “Hot-Blooded” and “I want to know what love is”.
The 72 year old man Gram left FOREIGN for good in 2002 and has battled health issues in recent years, including having a non-cancerous tumor removed. He told the Democrat & Chronic in 2018 that he planned to retire, but still reunited with FOREIGN for several shows that year.
FOREIGN replaced Gram with Hansen in 2005. Jonesthe only remaining original member of FOREIGNsuffered from health issues beginning in 2011, eventually resulting in heart surgery in 2012.
Gram and Jonesthe June 2013 performance of “I want to know what love is” and “Jukebox Hero” to Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York marked the first time the couple performed together in a decade after Gram left FOREIGN for a second time. Hansen has been leading the group for 17 years.
Photo credit: Karsten Staiger