Lou Gramm Was ‘Crushed’ by Credit Split on Foreigner Hit
“I didn’t get any credit for ‘I Want to Know What Love Is,’” Gramm explained during an appearance on The Sessions, insisting that he was instrumental in the song’s creation.
“[Jones'] home was about 15 minutes from my home," Gramm recalled. "So I would drive over to his house and we would work on that song. There'd be moments where it was just magic and then we'd hit our head on something creatively that we couldn't get to the next point. And so we almost had to put the song away for a couple of weeks and come back to it again. I felt we had worked our tails off to make that song what it is.”
Gramm went on to note that he and Jones had a routine: at the end of an album, they’d “run down a list of the songs” and determine percentage of ownership on each track based on each musician’s contributions. They were going through this process ahead of 1984's Agent Provocateur, when the topic of “I Want to Know What Love Is” arrived.
“When it was time to decide what the percentages were, I wrote down what I thought it should be and he wrote down what he thought it should be. I think I wrote down 65-35 — 35 for me, 65 for him,” Gramm recalled. “And I opened the little piece of paper that [had] what he thought [the correct split] was, and he wrote down 95-5. I was so stunned and crushed that he'd think I contributed next to nothing to that song.”
According to Gramm, the difference of opinion on "I Want to Know What Love Is" “put a wedge in us that was the beginning of the end.”
“I should get 25 [percent] just for the vocal performance,” the singer opined. “All I could think of was greed. It was an awesome song. We all knew it was gonna be a smash. This was his chance to step on me. And you know what I told him after 95-5? I said, 'Five, Mick?' I said, 'You should just keep it all.' And he did. He didn't say, 'No, Lou. Please. Let's work it out.' I said, 'Five percent for me after all the work I did on the song?' I said, 'You should just keep it all.' And he didn't say anything. He just kept it all. And you know the millions and millions that that song has brought in?"
Listen to 'I Want to Know What Love Is'
Released as a single in November of '84, "I Want to Know What Love Is" became the only No. 1 song in Foreigner's impressive catalog. Gramm left the group in 1990 to focus on his solo career. He'd return in 1992 before departing once more in 2003.
Jones and Gramm were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame together in 2013. At that time, Jones detailed the duo’s songwriting dynamic during a conversation with UCR.
“There was no real method to it,” the guitarist explained. “He would come up with an idea or I would come up with an idea and we’d throw it back and forth and see what it did for us, and then if there was something that sounded like it had potential, we’d focus in on it and try and finish it."
In that same conversation, Jones directly addressed "I Want to Know What Love Is," revealing how inspiration initially struck.
"I was just up late one night. I had met the person who was becoming my wife, basically and I think I walked into the bedroom about two in the morning and I said, 'I’ve got this great idea.' I had the first two chords of the intro and the title," Jones recalled. "And she said, 'Well, what’s it called?' I said, 'Well, it’s called ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’ She looked at me and said, 'What do you mean you want to know what love is? We’re about to get married!' [Laughs] 'Don’t you know what love is?' So that was funny."