How Foreigner Maintained Their Early Momentum on ‘Double Vision’
Foreigner immediately rose to the ranks of the biggest bands in rock with their 1977 self-titled debut, scoring a Top 20 LP that sold millions while spinning off multiple hit singles. But as quickly as they found success, Foreigner had to start worrying about whether they could maintain it with their next album.
Fortunately for the band, their second LP shrugged off the sophomore jinx. Released on June 20, 1978, Double Vision increased Foreigner's early momentum, spawning three more hits ("Hot Blooded," "Blue Morning, Blue Day" and the title track) while going on to rack up sales in excess of seven million copies in the U.S. alone. By the end of the decade, they were firmly entrenched on pop and rock radio playlists, where they'd remain for the next 10 years.
Things could easily have gone the other way for the band, which – as its tongue-in-cheek name implies – was cobbled together from members of different continents and musical backgrounds. Initially a six-piece group, the original Foreigner lineup was split between North America and the U.K., with guitarist Mick Jones, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and drummer Dennis Elliott raised in England, while singer Lou Gramm, keyboard player Al Greenwood and bassist Ed Gagliardi hailed from the U.S.
Even though they came from different sides of the globe, the band members quickly forged a cohesive sound that proved all but impossible for radio programmers and rock fans to resist. In fact, that cultural divide sometimes helped add to the songwriting mix.
In the studio making Double Vision, the band was stuck on one particular track until Gramm found some unexpected inspiration while watching a New York Rangers hockey game. After the goalie was helped off the ice following a nasty hit, Gramm later recalled: "[The announcer] said [John Davidson] was going to be all right, but that he had been experiencing some double vision. Voila! A siren went off in my head. Double vision. Perfect."
Watch Foreigner Perform 'Hot Blooded'
After writing some lyrics, Gramm said he "told Mick and the guys that I had solved our problem. They looked at me like I was crazy at first, but after I told them about double vision and began singing some of the lyrics, they were excited too – so excited that we wound up making it the title track."
As Foreigner fans know, Double Vision's title cut went on to become one of the band's signature songs, along with the album's lead-off track, "Hot Blooded." The LP was the second in a string of hit albums that lasted until 1987's Inside Information.
Over time, the original lineup fell apart, and Gramm departed during a relative peak in the group's popularity, opting to pursue a full-time solo career after scoring some hits on his own. He'd reunite with Foreigner in the '90s for a series of tours and some new recordings (including 1994's underrated Mr. Moonlight album), only to leave again – presumably for good – in 2002.
Jones went on to tour with a completely revamped Foreigner lineup that included new singer Kelly Hansen, who handled vocal duties for the band's 2009 album Can't Slow Down. But Jones and Gramm have performed together in the years that followed, leaving fans to ponder the prospect of another album some day.