Lou Gramm

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Lou Gramm
Gramm performing in 1979
Gramm performing in 1979
Background information
Birth nameLouis Andrew Grammatico
Born (1950-05-02) 2 May 1950 (age 73)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1974–present
Formerly of

Louis Andrew Grammatico (born 2 May 1950), known professionally as Lou Gramm, is an American singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Foreigner from 1976 to 1990 and again from 1992 to 2003, during which time the band had numerous successful albums and singles.

Early life[edit]

Gramm was born on 2 May 1950, in Rochester, New York, the son of Nikki (born Masetta), a singer, and Bennie Grammatico, a band leader and trumpeter.[1][2][3] He attended Gates-Chili High School in Rochester, graduating with the class of 1968, and majored in education and art at Monroe Community College.[4]

Music career[edit]


Gramm became front man for the band Black Sheep. Black Sheep was the first American band signed to the Chrysalis label, which released their first single, "Stick Around" (1974). Soon after this initial bit of success, Black Sheep signed with Capitol Records, releasing two albums in succession: Black Sheep (1975) and Encouraging Words (late 1975). They were the opening act for Kiss when an accident with their equipment truck on the ice-covered New York State Thruway suddenly ended the band's tour on Christmas Eve, 1975. Unable to support its albums with live performances, Black Sheep disbanded.[5]

A year earlier, Gramm met his future bandmate Mick Jones. Jones was in Rochester New York performing with the band Spooky Tooth, and Gramm had given Jones a copy of Black Sheep's first album (S/T). It was early in 1976, not long after Black Sheep's truck accident, when Jones, in search of a lead singer for a new band he was assembling, expressed his interest in Gramm and invited him to audition.[6]

Gramm traveled to New York to audition and got the job. Lou Grammatico then became Lou Gramm. The band, which was initially known as "Trigger," was later renamed "Foreigner". With Foreigner, Gramm became one of the most successful rock vocalists of the late 1970s and 1980s.[7]


Lou Gramm performing with Foreigner on November 25, 1979

Foreigner's first eight singles cracked the Billboard Top 20, making them the first band since The Beatles to achieve this milestone.[8] Gramm performed vocals on all of Foreigner's hits including "Urgent", "Juke Box Hero", "Break It Up", "Say You Will", and "I Don't Want to Live Without You".[9] He co-wrote most of the band's songs, including the hit ballads "Waiting for a Girl Like You", which spent ten weeks at #2 on the 1981/82 American Hot 100, and "I Want to Know What Love Is", which was a number one hit in eight countries.[6]

Gramm and Jones had a volatile chemistry. Gramm wanted the band to remain true to its purer rock origins, favoring music with a solid drum and guitar structure, whereas Jones embraced the 1980s style of synthesizer ballads.[citation needed] Gramm has called the 4 album (1981) the high point of his work with Foreigner.[citation needed] Foreigner's next album, Agent Provocateur (1984), took three years to release due to the ongoing creative differences between Jones and Gramm.[10] The band released Inside Information in 1987.[11]

Gramm released his first solo album, Ready or Not, in January 1987 to critical acclaim.[12] The single "Midnight Blue" reached the top five.[13]

Also in 1987, Gramm contributed the song "Lost in the Shadows" to the soundtrack for the comedy horror film The Lost Boys.

A second solo effort, Long Hard Look (October 1989), that included the top ten hit "Just Between You and Me" as well as "True Blue Love", reached the Top 40. The album also included "Hangin' on My Hip", which was featured in the 1990 film Navy SEALs.[14]


Gramm announced his departure from Foreigner in May 1990 due to differences with Jones, and to focus on his solo career.[15]

Gramm also formed Shadow King with close friend and former Black Sheep bassist Bruce Turgon; their 1991 self-titled album was released by Atlantic Records. Despite positive reviews, the group did not enjoy the level of marketing and promotional support necessary to sustain a new project and soon disbanded. Also in 1991, Gramm contributed the song "One Dream" to the movie Highlander II: The Quickening.[16]

Gramm rejoined Foreigner in May 1992 after working out his differences with Jones during the Los Angeles riots.[17] In 1994, Foreigner released the album Mr. Moonlight on the Rhythm Safari label which, although relatively successful in Europe, was not as widely marketed or distributed in the U.S. Still, "Until the End of Time" made inroads at adult contemporary radio, peaking at number 8.[18]

In 1996, Jones invited Gramm to perform backing vocals on a cover version of "I Want to Know What Love Is" he was producing for the Australian singer Tina Arena. The song went on to become a major hit again throughout Europe.[citation needed]

In 1997, Gramm provided vocals for Christian rock band Petra's album entitled Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus.[19]

In April 1997, on the eve of a Japan tour, Gramm was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and underwent surgery.[20] He continued to work with Jones throughout his illness. By 1998, Gramm was back touring with Foreigner.[21]

2000s to present[edit]

In early 2003, Gramm departed from Foreigner for good.[22]

The Lou Gramm Band released a Christian rock album in 2009.[23]

In May 2013, Lou released his autobiography Juke Box Hero - My Five Decades in Rock 'n' Roll.[24]

Gramm was inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame on 13 June 2013.[25] On 20 July 2017, Gramm joined Foreigner for three songs during an encore at Jones Beach Theatre in Long Island, New York.[25] On 29 December 2018, Gramm announced on stage in Schenectady, New York that he was retiring from touring.[26] However, he stated that he would continue to release studio music and perform occasional live shows[22] including The Lopen,[27] a celebrity concert[28] produced by Howard Perl Entertainment[29] to benefit children at Akron Children's Hospital.

In 2019, Gramm toured on a bill with Asia Featuring John Payne, where they also acted as his back-up group.[30] Gramm performed lead vocals on the track "Sometimes" on the 2019 album The Secret by Alan Parsons.[31]

Gramm in 2009

Gramm told RockBandReviews.com in 2019 that he was planning to release some new solo material later that year. "I'm working on some things now that were extra songs on my solo albums," he said. "If there's 10 songs on the album, you usually record 13 and pick the best 10, or the 10 that are finished. So the other three have been siting around for 25, 30 years, and I went back recently and listened to them, and they sounded so good that I finished them. Starting in about two months, maybe three months, I'm gonna be releasing three songs on downloads and see how that works out. So those songs will be heard for the first time. And then in another three or four months, there's gonna be three more new songs released. So that could be going on for six or eight months, and we'll see what happens."[32]

Gramm also said that he is "thinking about" releasing a greatest-hits package of his non-Foreigner works.[32]

Personal life[edit]

In 1992, Gramm, after having completed a stint in drug rehabilitation, became a born again Christian.[23]

In April 1997, Gramm was diagnosed with a type of brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma. Although the tumor was benign, the resulting surgery damaged his pituitary gland. In addition, the recovery program had caused Gramm to gain weight, and likewise affected his stamina and voice.[20]

As of 2023, Gramm is back on tour with his band the Lou Gramm Allstars.[25] He has new music in the works to be released in the near future.[22] He enjoys spending time with his five children during his downtime.[15] He is also touring under "Lou Gramm,The Original Voice of Foreigner" with John Payne's' Asia as his backing band playing solo and classic Foreigner hits.


Solo albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart
Ready or Not 27 24 34
Long Hard Look
  • Release date: 13 October 1989
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD, cassette
85 44 56
Lou Gramm Band
  • Release date: 2 June 2009
  • Label: Spectra Records
  • Formats: CD, music download
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Solo singles[edit]

Year Song U.S. Hot 100 U.S. MSR U.S. A.C. UK singles Dutch singles AUS[35] Album
1987 "Midnight Blue" 5 1 82 29 8 Ready or Not
"Ready or Not" 54 7 97
"Lost In The Shadows"[37] The Lost Boys Soundtrack
1989 "Just Between You and Me" 6 4 4 31 Long Hard Look
1990 "True Blue Love" 40 23
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

With Black Sheep[edit]

  • 1974: Stick Around / Cruisin' (For Your Love) – 45 single
  • 1975: Broken Promises – 45 single
  • 1975: Black Sheep
  • 1975: Encouraging Words

With Foreigner[edit]

With Poor Heart[edit]

  • 1988: Foreigner in a Strange Land
  • 1993: The Best of the Early Years

(note: These are actually releases of much older recordings)

With Shadow King[edit]

  • 1991: Shadow King

With Liberty N' Justice[edit]

  • 2004: Welcome to the Revolution

(note: one track only)

Lou Gramm Band/The Voice of Foreigner Band members[edit]

  • Lou Gramm – lead vocals, percussion (2003–present)
  • Ben Gramm – drums (2003–2016, 2018)
  • AD Zimmer – bass guitar, backing vocals (2010–2018)
  • Michael Staertow – lead guitar, backing vocals (2012–2018)
  • Scott Gilman – saxophone, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2016–2018)
  • Jeff Jacobs – keyboards, backing vocals (2017–2018)



  1. ^ "Jamaica Gleaner News – Family connections at Jazz and Blues – Entertainmen". Jamaica-gleaner.com. January 28, 2009. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  2. ^ "A 'Foreigner' no more, Gramm loves the hometown crowd". Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame". Rochester Music Coalition. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  4. ^ Hendricks, Matt (29 November 2011). "'Just Between You and Me' – by Lou Gramm – Classic Hit or Miss". Greatest Hits 98.7 WFGR.
  5. ^ "Lou Gramm Rock Block". houstonseagle.com. Cox Media Group. May 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b Wildsmith, Steve. "Now more than two decades sober, Foreigner's Lou Gramm reflects on the dark days of his addiction". thetiesthatbindus.org. The Ties That Bind Us. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Interview with Juke Box Hero Lou Gramm, The Original Voice of Foreigner". foxvalleymagazine.com. 3 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Lyrical Genius". Associated Press. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  9. ^ Peake, Steve. "Top Foreigner and Lou Gramm Solo Songs of the '80s". thoughtco.com. dotDash. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Allmusic: Review of Agent Provocateur by Bret Adams". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Inside Information". rhino.com. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Allmusic: Review of Ready Or Not by Bret Adams". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  13. ^ "Lou Gramm Chart History". Billboard.
  14. ^ "Lyrical Genius". Associated Press. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  15. ^ a b Gramm, Lou; Pitoniak, Scott (1 May 2013). Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock 'n' Roll. Chicago, Illinois: Triumph Books. p. 119. ISBN 978-1623682057. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  16. ^ Rosenthal, Nicole (11 August 2020). "The Real Reason Singer Lou Gramm Quit Foreigner". grunge.com. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  17. ^ Renzi, David (25 June 1999). "With Foreigner relations repaired and the double vision working again". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Foreigner - Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus". christianmusicarchive.com. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  20. ^ a b Barton, Geoff (May 13, 2009). "Gramm: Why My Foreigner Affair Turned Sour". Classic Rock. Archived from the original on May 17, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  21. ^ Sculley, Alan. "Grandstand concert preview: Foreigner celebrates 40 years". sj-r.com. Gannett Co. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  22. ^ a b c "Lou Gramm Details Why He Retired from the Road". 102.9 WMGK. 17 January 2019.
  23. ^ a b Ackerman, McCarton (16 May 2013). "Foreigner Frontman Is Born Again Sober". The Fix.
  24. ^ Gramm, Lou (24 September 2019). Juke box hero : my five decades in rock 'n' roll. Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-62937-758-2. OCLC 1090198368.
  25. ^ a b c "Lou Gramm finally sang again with Foreigner Thursday, but not expected to at Darien". Democrat and Chronicle. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  26. ^ [1] [dead link]
  27. ^ "2015 LOPen Charity Event Weekend". CoolCleveland. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  28. ^ "LOPen delivers smiles, rocks the night away". Inside Children's Blog. 30 June 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  29. ^ "Howard Perl/LOPen Presents.... (the voice of Foreigner) LOU GRAMM & STARSHIP (with original frontman Mickey Thomas) - DONATIONS ONLY!!!". allevents.in. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  30. ^ "LOU GRAMM Performs FOREIGNER Classics With ASIA FEATURING JOHN PAYNE in Collingswood, New Jersey (Video)". blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  31. ^ "Alan Parsons teams up with Lou Gramm for new track Sometimes". loudersound.com. 12 April 2019.
  32. ^ a b "LOU GRAMM Is Planning To Release Six New Songs This Year". Blabbermouth.net. 7 March 2019.
  33. ^ "Lou Gramm Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  34. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Top Albums/CDs". RPM. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  35. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 128. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  36. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  37. ^ "Lou Gramm - Lost In The Shadows (1987, Vinyl)". Discogs. 18 September 1987.

External links[edit]