Lou Gramm Overview
Lou Gramm (born Louis Andrew Grammatico; May 2, 1950) is an American United States rock Rock music vocalist Singer and songwriter best known for his role as the lead vocalist and co-writer of many of the songs for the rock band Foreigner Foreigner (band) . He also had a successful solo career. Gramm was the vocalist for many top-40 hits including "Cold as Ice Cold as Ice (song) ", "Waiting for a Girl Like You", "I Want to Know What Love Is" and "Midnight Blue Midnight Blue (song) ". Most recently, the Lou Gramm Band has released a self-titled Christian rock album in 2009.
Grammatico was born in Rochester Rochester, New York , New York. He attended Gates-Chili High School in Rochester, graduating with the class of 1968. He is also an alumnus of Monroe Community College in Rochester.
Grammatico began his musical career in his mid-teens, playing in local Rochester bands, including St. James Infirmary (later The Infirmary), and PHFFT. He later sang harmony vocals in another local band, Poor Heart. Grammatico then went on to sing and play drums, and to eventually become front man for the band Black Sheep Black Sheep (rock band) . Black Sheep had the distinction of being the first American band signed to the Chrysalis Chrysalis Records label, which released their first single, "Stick Around" (1973). Soon after this initial bit of success, Black Sheep signed with Capitol Records, releasing two albums in succession [S/T (1974) and Encouraging Words (1975). They were the opening act for KISS Kiss (band) when an icy accident with their equipment truck on the New York State Thruway suddenly ended the band's tour on Christmas Eve, 1975. Unable to support its albums with live performances, Black Sheep came prematurely to a screeching halt.
A year earlier, Lou Grammatico had the opportunity to meet his future bandmate Mick Jones Mick Jones (Foreigner) . Jones was in Rochester performing with the band Spooky Tooth, and Grammatico 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 vocalist for a new band he was assembling, expressed his interest in Grammatico and invited him in a phone call to audition for the job of lead singer.
With the blessings of his Black Sheep bandmates, Grammatico flew down to New York to audition for the still-unnamed band. With his powerful vocals, he easily got the job. Lou Grammatico then became Lou Gramm, and, with the band initially known as "Trigger," and later renamed Foreigner Foreigner (band) , became one of the most successful rock vocalists of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Gramm was the lead vocalist on many of Foreigner's hit songs, including "Feels Like the First Time", "Cold as Ice Cold as Ice (song) ", "Hot Blooded", "Urgent Urgent (song) ", "Double Vision", "Juke Box Hero", "Head Games", "Break It Up", "Dirty White Boy" and "Say You Will". He co-wrote most of the songs for the band, which achieved two of its biggest hits with the 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 #1 hit internationally (U.S. & U.K.) in 1985. The latter was credited only to Jones; however, Gramm indicated that he had contributed to its writing.
Gramm and Jones had a volatile sort of chemistry that exploded into many a chart-topper, yet at times they clashed artistically. Following the band's second album, the wildly successful Double Vision, shifts in personnel began to take place. Following their next album, Head Games, Gramm and Jones jointly decided to reduce the band's lineup from six to four members. The next album, which Gramm has called the high point of his work with Foreigner, was aptly titled 4. 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 - a more lucrative approach at the time. Indeed, the next album, Agent Provocateur, would find Jones moving creatively in the opposite direction from Gramm, seeking out potential co-producers such as Trevor Horn, and then Alex Sadkin, which ended up giving Foreigner's sound a somewhat new-wavish, keyboard-dominant quality.
By 1987, Foreigner continued to struggle with ongoing internal conflicts. During this period, Gramm released his first solo album, Ready or Not Ready or Not (album) , which received critical acclaim and contained a top five hit single with "Midnight Blue Midnight Blue (song) ". This was followed by the late-1987 Foreigner album Inside Information, which reached number 15 on Billboard's album chart. The extracted "Say You Will Say You Will (song) " was released late that year, reaching number 6 on the Hot 100 early in 1988, and "I Don't Want to Live Without You" followed, reaching number 5 on the Hot 100 and number one on the adult contemporary chart Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks in the spring. A third single, "Heart Turns to Stone Heart Turns to Stone (song) " reached number 56 in the summer. Eventually a second solo effort, Long Hard Look, that included the top ten hit, "Just Between You and Me Just Between You and Me (Lou Gramm song) ", and "True Blue Love", reached the Top 40. Gramm also contributed a song to the soundtrack for the 1987 movie The Lost Boys, titled "Lost in the Shadows."
Encouraged by his solo success, and increasingly displeased with the direction in which Jones was taking Foreigner, Gramm left the group to form Shadow King Shadow King (band) with close friend and former Black Sheep bassist Bruce Turgon. The new group's 1991 self-titled album was released by Virgin Records in the UK and Atlantic Records in the U.S. Despite positive reviews, the group lacked cohesiveness. It also did not enjoy the level of marketing and promotional support necessary to sustain a new project. Shadow King Shadow King (band) soon disbanded. The same year, Foreigner released the album Unusual Heat, a relatively unsuccessful effort fronted by vocalist Johnny Edwards Johnny Edwards (musician) .
Edwards was not widely accepted by the Foreigner fan base. Gramm returned to the group in 1992 to record three new songs for the compilation, The Very Best of ... and Beyond, bringing a new energy back into the mix. Gramm also brought Bruce Turgon with him to join the Foreigner lineup at this point.
In 1995, the group released the album Mr. Moonlight Mr. Moonlight (album) 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. With the changing trends in po***r music, this now-classic rock band came to suffer the inevitable slowing of their genre's momentum.
New Foreigner era
In 1996, Mick 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, although it was not to be found in many places in the U.S., if at all.
In April 1997, two months after providing vocals for Christian rock band Petra's Petra (band) Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus, and on the eve the band was to leave for a Japan tour, 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. He continued to work with Jones throughout his illness and in 1999, Gramm was back touring with Foreigner playing summer festivals and smaller markets until late 2002.
Lou Gramm Band
In 2003, Gramm once again split from Foreigner to rejuvenate his solo career with a band that included Bruce Turgon on bass, Rocket Richotte on guitar, Kevin Neal on drums, John Purdell on keyboards (who suddenly died very early during the tour), and Gary Corbett on keyboards. Following the death of both his father and mother, Bennie and Nikki Grammatico - - he a trumpeter and bandleader, she a singer for his Big Band - - Gramm and the initial lineup decided it best to take different paths. Fulfilling a lifelong wish of his parents that their three musical sons might someday make their music together, Gramm and his brothers, Ben and Richard, formed the current lineup of the Lou Gramm Band (also known as "LGB").
Gradually, Gramm's health and energy have rebounded, although his voice has been obviously affected, and sounds quite different on much of his new material. The Lou Gramm band has been touring the U.S., Canada, and Mexico steadily since January 2004, as well as occasional dates off the continent, and the touring continues.
Lou, Ben, and Richard, with friends Don Mancuso and Andy Knoll, play a retrospective of Gramm's work with Foreigner, his solo material, plus a few personal favorites of their own. In addition, the band has taken on Christian rock. The Lou Gramm Band has recently finished an all-Christian rock album ,
which was released in the U.S. on June 2, 2009 , through Spectra Records. The Lou Gramm Band is currently on tour supporting the album, live video from their Chicago performance on September 19th, 2009 can be seen at the
Gramm counts John Lennon, Marvin***e, Steve Marriott, Paul Rodgers and Wilson Pickett among his influences.
*Ready or Not Ready or Not (album) (1987) #27 US
*Long Hard Look (1989) #85 US
*Lou Gramm Band (2009)
With Poor Heart
*Foreigner in a Strange Land (1988)
*The Best of the Early Years (1993)
(Note: These are actually releases of much older recordings.)
With Black Sheep
*Encouraging Words (1975)
*Foreigner Foreigner (album) (1977) #4 US
*Double Vision Double Vision (Foreigner album) (1978) #3 US, #32 UK
*Head Games (1979) #5 US
*4 4 (Foreigner album) (1981) #1 US (10 weeks), #5 UK
*Records Records (album) (1982) #10 US, #58 UK
*Agent Provocateur Agent Provocateur (album) (1984) #4 US, #1 UK
*Inside Information (1987) #15 US, #64 UK
*The Very Best of (1992)
*The Very Best of... and Beyond (1992) #123 US, #19 UK
*Classic Hits Live/Best of Live (1993)
*JukeBox Hero: Best of (1994)
*Mr. Moonlight Mr. Moonlight (album) (1994) #136 US, #59 UK
*The Platinum Collection (1999)
*Rough Diamonds No. 1 (1999)
*Hot Blooded and Other Hits (2000)
*Anthology: Jukebox Heroes (2000)
*Complete Greatest Hits (2002) #80 US
*The Definitive (2002) #33 UK
With Shadow King
*Shadow King (1991)
With Don Mancuso
*D: Drive (2005)
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