It's been 35 years since the release of Foreigner's first album turned Lou Grammatico, then an unknown singer with the Rochester, N.Y., band Black Sheep, into Lou Gramm, a bona fide 70s and 80s Rock God, the voice of a band that's sold more than 50 million albums in the U.S. and scored 13 Top 20 hits.
For Gramm, who co-wrote much of Foreigner's material, "It means I'm getting old," he says with a laugh. But he remains proud of the association, which ended in 2003, after he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and was sidelines by the recovery from surgery to remove it.
"It's something to look back upon, and there's a lot of memories," says Gramm, 62, who's still surprised to hear the likes of "Feels Like the First Time," "Hot Blooded," "Urgent" and "I Want to Know What Love Is" on the radio. "I always thought careers were no longer than 10 years, because you might hear two or three singles from an artist in 10 years and then never hear from them again.
"So, yeah, I thought I'd be over and done with all of this by the time I was 30 and then get a job like my father did...at a metal pressing plant. I'm sure happy it worked out this way."
These days Gramm has his own band, playing Christian rock. He's "pretty far along" on a follow-up to his 2009 album "Baptized By Fire," but while the subject matter is a bit different the material still stands up next to his Foreigner fare.
"It hasn't softened or lost any intensity, musically, from anything I've done previously," Gramm says. "The words are provocative enough, and I certainly try to make sure the choruses slap you in the face real hard, just like we did with (Foreigner).
"And they don't hit you over the head with the God stick, but that theme is there, and I don't think people mind that. In fact, with everything that's going on in the country and in the world, they might relate to it more."
Lou Gramm performs as part of the Rockin' on the Riverfront series at 8 p.m. Friday, July 27, on the south side of the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Admission is free. Visit www.gmrencen.com.
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