Mick Jones: Foreigner

Why You Should Know Him

There are songs that got washed away with the ‘80s, and songs that withstood the test of time and popular culture. Pertaining to the latter, Mick Jones is one of the most notable musicians and songwriters of that era and has a decorated collection of timeless songs (with awards to match) to prove that.

Foreigner hailed from New York City but was comprised equally of members from across the pond as well as American rockers. Jones came together in the big apple with Lou Gramm and Ian McDonald to do something new, and rounded up fellow Britt Dennis Elliott, along with Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi from the States.

When Jones created Foreigner, he was aiming to create something that wasn’t categorized yet. What he was looking for was a fusion of genres that blended American blues and country, mixed with British rock sounds and a little R&B influence. Whatever he tried to create, the result was a sound that became immediately identifiable as coming from this band.

With Foreigner, Jones helped to define (or redefine) what would be known as arena rock. His cultural influences that show through his songs are subtle but necessary for the execution of his style, and they exploit every aspect of the guitar. Not only was he known for his impeccable sound and tones, but Jones was also known for putting on quite the show.

Harking back to a time when stage theatrics were not only an added value, but also a necessity, he nearly lit his amp on fire during the song, “Hot Blooded,” after turning it up to 11 and giving it a nice kick.

Still not sure who the band, Foreigner, is? Some of their countless hits include “Double Vision,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Waiting For a Girl Like You,” and “Urgent.”

In addition to writing some of the most notable songs of a decade, he has also produced ten multi-platinum albums, been nominated for Grammies and Golden Globes, and is a recipient of the prestigious Ivor Novello Songwriter award. Mick Jones embodies classic rock guitar and was easily one of its standard bearers.

The Gear

Jones wasn’t the king of complicated guitar rigs. Throughout the ‘80s, Jones used his custom ’57 black Gibson Les Paul. It was a standard three pickup guitar, except that he removed the middle pickup completely. That particular model also had switches which would let him take the signal directly from the pickup to the amp, bypassing the volume and tone control for maximum output gain.

He also used a blonde Gibson j200 acoustic guitar, and a tobacco sunburst Les Paul later in his career.

Jones used Marshall 100-watt amps with Hiwatt cabinets loaded with Fane speakers—simple and to the point.

Where Is He Now?

When he isn’t performing, Jones has helped to produce the likes of Van Halen, Billy Joel and he even co-wrote songs with Eric Clapton. In 2016 the original lineup of Foreigner reunited to celebrate the platinum certification of No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner. Jones and the band have since performed on many platforms such as The Rachel Ray Show, Fox & Friends, and are currently set to do a 2017 summer tour with Cheap Trick.

Jones continues his legacy with Foreigner to this day. In addition to all of the amazing performances and tours, he released a book in 2017 entitled, A Foreigners Tale. The book is the first authorized, illustrated history of Foreigner as a whole and is available for purchase at www.foreignerbook.com.

Back to the Top 40 Under-Appreciated Guitarists of the 1980s.

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