Music

Foreigner’s Mick Jones on Making It Into the Rock Hall of Fame & Whether He’ll Perform

Mick Jones could be excused for feeling a bit bitter about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ignoring Foreigner for more than two decades of eligibility. But now that the group will be part of the class of 2024 this October, Jones — who put Foreigner together back in 1975 in New York — says he’s feeling “quite the opposite.”

“I think it means more to me now than perhaps 20 years ago,” Jones tells Billboard exclusively, via email due to a struggle with Parkinson’s disease that he revealed in February. “I’ve had a great career, and this is like the whipped cream and cherry on top. It’s something I will savor over the years. It’s a great honor to be included amongst all these great artists that have been inducted over the years.

Jones, 79, adds that despite Foreigner fans’ very vocal frustration at the band’s exclusion, he himself has kept a measured perspective about the prospects. “Occasionally it might have entered my mind,” he says. “I certainly haven’t been overly consumed by it. Every year was the same thing, so eventually I didn’t really worry about it. My dear friend Peter Frampton had been passed over all these years; I don’t think he has been overly consumed by it either.”

Foreigner finished third in the Rock Hall’s fan vote this year, behind the Dave Matthews Band and Frampton, with more than 527,000 total votes. That was partly assisted by a video campaign by Jones’ son-in-law Mark Ronson, who recruited musical friends such as Paul McCartney (“Foreigner? Not in the Hall of Fame? What the f–k?!”), Dave Grohl, Slash, Jack Black, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith and others expressing disbelief that the group wasn’t yet in.

“I am very grateful for the time and effort Mark has put into this,” Jones says. “I wasn’t totally aware of the extent to which he saw this through. He reached out to a lot of people to post their support on social media. I had a good laugh seeing Paul’s Instagram post.”

Jones isn’t alone, of course, in celebrating Foreigner’s impending induction. Rick Wills, who was Foreigner’s bassist from 1979-1993, tells Billboard, “We’re more than thrilled. It’s been over 20 years since we’ve been waiting for this day. I suppose we were frustrated, to be perfectly honest, but we tried to hide it as best we could because we didn’t want to appear like we were sad people. (laughs). I mean what else could you do but what we’ve done already with our music, and what people have appreciated and enjoyed? We didn’t understand why we didn’t get that recognition.”

And original frontman Lou Gramm told Billboard last month that he “had given up that we would ever be considered” but would happily serve if elected. “I was not feeling good that our peers were in years ago and we were completely neglected…I didn’t even think about it anymore, to be honest with you, so (the nomination) was a big surprise to me.”

Gramm recently brought up past issues with Jones over songwriting credits and financial issues but is looking forward to being with the band and performing at the induction ceremony on Oct. 19 in Cleveland. And Jones says Gramm, with whom he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with in 2013, will be welcomed with open arms.

“On a personal level I have no hard feelings toward Lou,” Jones says. “We did perform together at the 40th anniversary concert. It has been so many years now since Lou left Foreigner; I like to think that those ill feelings are in the past. There is power in letting go of hard feelings and getting on with your life. Why carry the burden of hard feelings? It serves nothing in the long run. I do plan to attend,” Jones adds. I’m sure my whole family will be there. As to whether I get up on stage and perform hasn’t really been decided as yet. In some ways it might be nice just to be there to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy being inducted.”

Jones says he deals with his Parkinson’s “day to day. Keeping my chin up and making the best of everything. Fortunately, my Parkinson’s isn’t debilitating like it is for some people. My friend Michael J. Fox has been such an inspiration and advocate to find a cure for this disease. I do hope they find the answer soon. Like any disease it’s a quality-of-life issue. With all the research my family and assistant has done, I’ve been able to stick with a healthy lifestyle and exercise program that I think helps stymie the progression of my Parkinson’s.”

It’s also allowed him to continue working — not on stage with Foreigner, of course, but there may be new material in the offing. “There are a number of songs that are demos I wrote with Lou,” Jones says. “A couple of them are quite promising. Some written with Marti (Frederiksen) are lying around. I’ve been going through cassette tapes of demos; some I think don’t deserve to see the light of day.” Jones adds that he’s also finished mixing and mastering a solo album, Shelter From the Storm, that he hopes to release “at some point soon.”

Foreigner, meanwhile, is in the midst of an open-ended farewell tour that will likely extend into 2025 and may even include occasional performances or residencies after the road work is done. And Jones affirms he’s still comfortable with that decision. “It’s expected that all good things must come to an end. When Foreigner does retire it’s because the guys in the band have given so much of themselves and have reached a time in their lives where they want to have an easier life and spend more time with their families. There are so many demands being in a successful rock band.”

Powered by Billboard.

Related Articles

Back to top button