Down to four members – American singer Lou Gramm and English bassist Rick Wills, guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Dennis Elliott- Foreigner released their fourth album on this day in 1981. No surprise then they simply titled it 4.
Soon they’d be no “foreigner” to the top of the charts – it became their only #1 album in the U.S. (although the three prior ones had all hit top 5.) The album would end up going 6X platinum in the States and 4X in Canada (where it is their biggest-selling album) adding up to somewhere in the range of nine million copies worldwide. In Britain, it was the first of theirs to hit gold status.
Getting Mutt Lange to produce the record seemed a smart move; allmusic would later suggest that Mick Jones of the band “found his perfect musical soulmate” in Lange because of his “obsessive attention to detail” and suggestion of well-placed studio musicians like Thomas Dolby , who played synthesizers throughout the record and Junior Walker who added the stellar sax solo on “Urgent”. That track went to #4 – in Canada it was their first #1 – and was followed by the uncharacteristically mellow “Waiting For a Girl Like You” which spent a remarkable 10 weeks at #2 on Billboard, a record for the longest run there without ever hitting the top. Another single, “Jukebox Hero”, was inspired by Lou Gramm’s memories of waiting outside an arena in Rochester waiting to see Jimi Hendrix . Making it all the more appropriate, the band recorded the record at Hendrix’ old Electric Lady Studios in New York. It hit only #26 but remarkably has gone platinum as a digital download!
Foreigner have been busy touring this year and have a number of shows left for the Northeast this summer; sadly only Jones from their 1980s lineup is still a member.