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Foreigner: First Time Around

Against all expectations, Foreigner's debut album sold millions. In 2014 AOR told the real story behind one of the biggest debut albums ever

Mick Jones recalls the music trends as being stacked against Foreigner, when they released their self-titled, debut album in 1977. “Disco was at height, and punk and new wave were just hitting. So things didn’t look at all good for what we were doing!”

You should also bear in mind that we are talking about a band who struggled to get any interest from record companies.

“We were turned down by at least three labels – and one of these was Atlantic!” Even producer Roy Thomas Baker rejected the chance of working on Foreigner’s debut album. All of which makes its subsequent, astonishing success more of a triumph against all the odds.

“I believe we set the bar for the multi-million selling albums that dominated the next decade,” says guitarist/vocalist Jones about the first Foreigner record. “Only Boston sold at a comparable level to us with their debut album, and this opened the floodgates for what followed.”

Born in Portsmouth, Mick Jones had been in bands since the early 60s, and had achieved a modicum of success when he lived in France and worked with Johnny Hallyday.

“He was – and still is – treated like the French Elvis,” says Jones. “And being in his band gave me the opportunity of meeting so many greats, like Jimmy Page [who played on the Hallyday single A Tout Casser] and Otis Redding, who came over to teach Johnny how to sing soul. It was an incredible grounding, which taught me a lot. I call it my ‘French Period’.”

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