Foreigner’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination feels like the first time indeed for the veteran rock band.
The group’s appearance on this year’s ballot is its first ever, despite being eligible since 2002. With worldwide record sales of more than 80 million and nine top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (including “Feels Like the First Time,” Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Urgent” and “I Want to Know What Love Is”), Foreigner has long been considered one of the Rock Hall’s biggest snubs by critics and commentators as well as fans.
“I deeply appreciate the recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (nominating) committee,” Mick Jones, who founded Foreigner during 1976 in New York, tells Billboard via email. “It is wonderful that Foreigner has maintained its presence all these years and brought the music to our fans. Getting this news is an incredible endorsement of what we have achieved over time.” Jones and original Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013.
Phil Carson, an executive at Atlantic Records when it signed Foreigner and the band’s manager since 2004, calls the nomination “fabulous” — and overdue. “Oh, of course it’s been frustrating, and I do know that many of the nominating committee members have put Foreigner on the list, but we just never got in,” Carson says, noting that the late Rock Hall co-founder Seymour Stein was an ardent supporter. This year, Carson says, “the usual suspects who have always been in our court voted, and I guess there was just that little bit of extra credibility of people that surround Foreigner, surround Mick, helped.”
Since the release of the Foreigner debut in 1977, the group has logged six multi-platinum albums and 22 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including one chart-topper in 1985 (“I Want to Know What Love Is”). The band, which has gone through lineup changes throughout its career, went on hiatus during the early 2000s but re-formed during 2004 with Kelly Hansen as frontman and former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson. Several of the original and principal members have participated in sporadic reunions and guest appearances, while founding bassist Ed Gagliardi passed away in 2014 and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald died in 2022.
Jones has stopped touring with the group due to health reasons but continues to oversee and participate in its operations.
Foreigner fans have waged campaigns to get the band onto the Rock Hall ballot for many years, though Jones has stayed out of the fray while quietly lamenting the snub. He previously told Billboard that, “I’m not thinking about it much. I know we’re getting a lot of support from a lot of places; obviously the fans who are kind of, ‘Let’s induct Foreigner to the Hall of Fame’ and all those kinds of things. And lots of other people seem to think we should be in there. I think it’s down to the panel and whatever mood they happen to be in and whatever style of music they award…. But I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved and the songs speak for themselves. Whether it happens or not, I’m still a happy man.”
Carson says Foreigner will promote the nomination via its website and social media to encourage fans to participate in the public vote. The current incarnation of Foreigner, meanwhile, launched a farewell tour last year that will resume with a second leg this year. It’s scheduled to finish in North America during the summer of 2025, but Carson says demand from other territories may push the end date into 2026.