FAIRFIELD — Foreigner’s Lou Gramm and Mick Jones were the two men behind some of rock’s biggest hits in the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, Gramm travels with his own band, which includes his older brother Ben Gramm on the drums. Jones hits the road with Foreigner.
The two had a pretty rocky relationship as Foreigner chartered hit after hit, Gramm said. A number of things contributed to the disharmony.
“A lot of it had to do with being on the road for long stretches of time,” Gramm said. “Nerves that were frazzled. Not getting enough sleep. Missing family. We had words and it just escalated.”
Things have changed. The pair are set to meet in September and possibly wrap up some unfinished tunes for an album that was never recorded.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Gramm said, with a bit of optimism in his voice.
Gramm, who battled a brain tumor in 1997, stops by Napa’s Uptown Theatre for a July 11 show.
Concertgoers can expect to hear such hits as “Jukebox Hero,” “Urgent” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
“My band has nothing to do with Foreigner,” he said. “But Foreigner fans admire the music. The whole point of me performing is to uplift the music of Foreigner and my involvement with it.
“I want to make sure every audience I perform in front of knows I’m not only the singer of these songs, but that I co-wrote 99 percent of them.”
Gramm will also do some songs from his 1987 solo release, which featured the hit “Midnight Blue.”
The New York native, along with Scott Pitoniak, penned “Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ’n’ Roll.” Released in 2013, the autobiography hit the store shelves just before he and Jones were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Pitoniak, a sports writer, approached him about the book, Gramm said. He’d read Pitoniak’s work and felt he could trust him.
“It was a terrific experience,” he said of writing the book. “It was like therapy, almost.”
The band logged many miles during its heyday. On its first tour, Foreigner leased a bus that was about 30 years old.
“We were lucky it had four tires on it,” he said.
After a gig in Phoenix, the band was off to Los Angeles, and a drive through Death Valley.
“The British guys (in the band) decided they were going to fly,” he said. “Us dumb Americans wanted to drive and see the sights.”
Somewhere in the desert, the air conditioning stopped working. The windows were opened in hopes of a breeze. The temperature inside the bus went up. Then, the bus overheated. Gramm figured the temperature must have been about 112 outside while the bus cooled off.
“It was so oppressive,” he said. “It was boiling hot on the bus, but it was better than the outside. It was a torturous drive.”
Gramm listed his favorite Foreigner song as “Jukebox Hero,” citing the “power and recklessness of it.”
It also made for a great stage prop. The band had an inflatable jukebox that Gramm estimated to be about 30 feet tall that went on the road with them. When the first chord was struck, it began to inflate. When Gramm began singing the chorus, it stood tall and lit up, like an old Wurlitzer. The inflatable jukebox is part of his inventory today.
“If it’s within driving distance, we bring it with us,” he said. “I don’t think it can fit on an airplane. When we take it with us, the crowd goes bonkers.”
Gramm made a wild guess that he’s sung “I Want to Know What Love Is” about 3,000 times. The tune has also been covered by many artists.
Mariah Carey did his favorite version.
“She did a good job,” he said. “I really enjoy her voice.”
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.