No. 72: Foreigner, ‘Juke Box Hero’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
The cover art for Foreigner’s ‘Juke Box Hero,’ from their blockbuster 1981 ‘4’ album, draws you immediately into an unfolding rock and roll fantasy and lets one relive the experience of being a music fan in the ‘80s.
An actual guitar wasn’t a required piece of the puzzle if you wanted to stand in front of the mirror, tease your hair up and strum along with guitarist Mick Jones and the rest of the Foreigner boys on this thumping Top 100 Classic Rock Songs inductee.
‘Juke Box Hero’ pays a well-deserved tribute to the rock and roll dreamer, inspired by a real life fan who Jones encountered outside of a sold out Foreigner concert: “Standing in the rain/ With his head hung low/ couldn’t get a ticket/ It was a sold out show.”
The legendary tale behind the inspiration for ‘Juke Box Hero’ reveals that Jones did indeed invite a fan to come in out of the rain to watch the band’s performance from the side of the stage, providing the lucky rock and roller with the ultimate golden ticket.
The song’s pulsing bass line ebbs underneath a shadowy vocal from Lou Gramm, who lays out the story of how the sounds of that sold out show and that “one guitar” in particular, blew the young future “juke box hero” away.
Gramm’s vocals soar to stratospheric heights as he recounts the adventures of the newly inspired future superstar as he scales the star-studded path to fame with his own guitar in hand. By the time the song ends, you can almost feel the sweat streaming down as the lights and sounds of the crowd begin to fade away.
For years, ‘Juke Box Hero’ has been a concert staple, often coming late in the set — in fact, Foreigner concerts in the ‘80s and early ‘90s featured a giant inflatable jukebox that arose in epic fashion as the band performed the song.
The band, now without that giant inflatable and with vocalist Kelly Hansen at the helm, continue to perform ‘Juke Box Hero’ at the end of their shows, and it hasn’t lost a single bit of the rock and roll swagger that made it such an exciting listen back in the day.
Watch Foreigner Perform ‘Juke Box Hero’