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An Englishman in New York: How Mick Jones created Foreigner

In an exclusive extract from his new autobiography, Mick Jones tells the story of how he went from Reading via France to the USA, where he put together a new band called Foreigner

By 1973, Mick Jones already lived a colourful, peripatetic musical life. Born into a middle-class household in Reading in 1944, he had grown up a music nut and was self-taught on the guitar. At the age of 18 he went off to tour France as a member of the backing band of one Dick Rivers, a typically French approximation of Elvis Presley. That gig came to an abrupt end for Jones when he made off with Rivers’s fiancée, going to live with her in Paris.

He spent the next eight years in France, working as a bandleader and arranger, first for a Bardot-esque chanteuse, Sylvie Vartan, and then her husband, Johnny Hallyday, a national icon. With Hallyday, Jones got to travel the world and live the high life. He cavorted with The Beatles in Paris, and encouraged such visiting British musicians as Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott into doing sessions with Hallyday. Tiring of constantly being at Hallyday’s beck and call, and wanting a new challenge, he returned to England in 1971, and soon after joined a reactivated version of psychedelic rockers Spooky Tooth.


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