Foreigner's Mick Jones

Mick Jones, leader of the popular '80s group Foreigner, had a long history in the rock world before the hit band. He also had UK hits with Nero and the Gladiators and was a member of British hard-rockers Spooky Tooth.

Jones was born Dec. 27, 1944, in London. He began his musical career as one of many guitar players in the Gladiators, a pop-rock group whose hits included "Hall of the Mountain King."

His next project was writing songs and recording for French rock singer Johnny Hallyday. Jones also worked during this time as a session player for rock such stars as George Harrison and Peter Frampton and played in a group called Wonderwheel with Gary Wright.

Beginning in 1972, Jones spent a few years in a revamped Spooky Tooth, a band formed in the mid-'60s. He appeared on such albums as You Broke My Heart, So I Busted Your Jaw.

Jones left Spooky Tooth in 1974 and moved to New York, where he worked as an A&R man for a British record label. He then joined the Leslie West Band for a short period but decided he wanted to form a group that combined rock 'n' roll, progressive rock and R&B.

Recruiting former King Crimson multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, Jones formed Foreigner in 1976 with unknown musicians, including Upstate New York singer Lou Gramm (who had been covering Bad Company and Free in his band). Al Greenwood (keyboards), Ed Gagliardi (bass) and Dennis Elliott (drums) completed the original lineup.

Foreigner, specializing in strong melodies and guitar riffs, had immediate success with its 1977 eponymous debut, which sold more than 4 million copies and generated three big hits: the #4 "Feels Like the First Time" (RealAudio excerpt), the #6 "Cold as Ice" and the top-20 "Long, Long Way From Home."

Along with the group Boston, Foreigner were a favorite in an era of album-oriented rock-radio formats. Foreigner's second LP, the following year's Double Vision, was even more successful. It spawned the #3 hit "Hot Blooded" and the #2 title cut.

Head Games (1979) yielded two top-20 hits, but Gagliardi, Greenwood and McDonald all soon split the band. However, Foreigner's 4 (1981) remains the band's biggest seller, offering the blockbuster ballad "Waiting for a Girl Like You" and the top-five hit "Urgent," featuring Junior Walker on sax.

Foreigner had their first #1 single with "I Want to Know What Love Is," from the 1984 platinum LP Agent Provocateur, which featured the New Jersey Mass Choir.

After the top-20 album Inside Information (1987), Gramm quit to go solo and was temporarily replaced by another singer. Jones issued an eponymous solo album in 1989 and co-produced Billy Joel's Stormfront that same year.

In 1993 Jones and Gramm built a new Foreigner lineup and released Mr. Moonlight (1994).

For New Year's Eve 1999, Jones and Gramm are scheduled to perform as part of the Quincy Jones production "America's Millennium," featuring Will Smith, Garth Brooks, Whitney Houston and others. The show will be broadcast live from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Other birthdays Monday: Scotty Moore, 68; Dave Rowberry (Animals), 56; Les Maguire (Gerry and the Pacemakers), 58; Tracy Nelson, 53; Larry Byrom (Steppenwolf), 51; Terry Bozzio (Missing Persons), 49; David Knopfler (Dire Straits), 48; Karla Bonoff, 47; and Youth (Killing Joke) 39.