Happy Birthday, Lou Gramm

Friday, May 2, 2014
Happy Birthday, Lou Gramm

Today marks the 64th birthday of Lou Gramm, who took Foreigner into the Billboard Top 40 more than a dozen times during his time as the band’s frontman while even managing to get in there a couple of times by himself.

Born in Rochester, New York in 1950, Louis Andrew Grammatico was one of those guys who came by his talent honestly, having been the child of a mom who was a singer (Nikki Masetta) and a dad who was a trumpeter and bandleader (Bernie Grammatico), but he didn’t kick off his musical career until his mid-teens, when he started playing in local bands around Rochester. His first band to earn any significant success, however, was Black Sheep, who were the first American band signed to Chrysalis. Although the label released the band’s first single, “Stick Around,” in 1973, Black Sheep soon jumped to Capitol, where they put out a pair of albums – Black Sheep (1974) and Encouraging Words (1975) – and might well have had more commercial success if they hadn’t lost an opportunity to tour as KISS’s opening act after their equipment truck was involved in an accident. On the other hand, it did open up Gramm’s dance card so that he was in a position to audition for a new band that former Spooky Tooth member Mick Jones was putting together, so at least there was a happy ending to the story.

Gramm spent just over a decade fronting Foreigner, but after releasing two solo albums, 1987’s Ready or Not and 1989’s Long Hard Look, he decided to leave the band behind and move forward with a new unit named Shadow King. Unfortunately, they only lasted for a single, self-titled album, but it once again all worked out for the best, with Gramm working through his issues with Jones and returning to the fold in 1992, staying there for the next decade, even while he was battling his way back from having had a brain tumor. In early 2003, however, Gramm left Foreigner and has stayed away ever since (he did, however, reunite with Jones for a performance in 2013), but in 2009 he released the self-titled debut from The Lou Gramm Band, and although he hasn’t put out a new studio album since, he continues to tour.

To celebrate Gramm’s birthday, we’ve put together a playlist of some of his best material, both solo and with Foreigner. Give it a listen: you may find that the sensation you experience is similar to the way it was when you initially heard it…and if you don’t get why the preceding statement is funny, then read it again during the chorus of the first song.