Lou Gramm's New Book Explores All Sides of Foreigner
Lou Gramm says he got through the writing of his new autobiography "Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock 'N' Roll" by digging into events out of chronological order with co-writer Scott Pitoniak.
"We did skip around and jumped from one decade to another and one album to another, not necessarily in order," Gramm, who published the book earlier this week in front of his June 13 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with Foreigner partner Mick Jones, tells Billboard. "It kept it fresh for me. If I had done it chronologically it might have been a little more weighty than it ended up being. I think by doing it this way I found that the big picture certainly leaves a better taste than if I had zeroed into a few two- or -three-year portions where things weren't that good. This way the overall story is a triumphant one."
"Juke Box Hero" certainly celebrates Gramm's successes, especially Foreigner's multi-platinum track record and his early solo albums "Ready Or Not" and "Long Hard Look." But it digs into the darkness as well, including his struggles in pre-Foreigner bands, his early 90s stint in drug rehab and his harrowing but ultimately successful battle with brain cancer that started in 1997. He also writes in depth about his relationship with Jones, a push-and-pull that led to Gramm leaving Foreigner "a couple times" before being replaced by Kelly Hansen in 2004. "We have had our problems, the two of us," Gramm says with a chuckle. "It's kind of a book about the different aspects of a relationship."
But, Gramm adds, he appreciates what he and Jones accomplished together. "It wasn't that much different than a lot of relationships between main writers in bands, I don't think," he says. "We wrote some very good songs together. We had some great experiences on the road and some monumental shows that we'd leave the stage just feeling shocked at how appreciated the audience was and feeling that we were a real solid band which was a great feeling. It had its ups and downs, and eventually it just wasn't productive anymore."
The Songwriters Hall of Fame, however, will bring Gramm and Jones together again, to perform as well as to accept their award. "As soon as I found out about this I called (Jones), and I hadn't talked to him in about 10 years. It was a very good phone call," Gramm reports. "It's a tremendous honor, and I'll be in terrific company there. I've read the list of people who have been inducted over the years, and it's a fine group of talented writers, for sure. It's humbling to be part of it."
Gramm and Pitoniak will begin a series of book signings to promote "Juke Box Hero" at Monroe Community College in their home town of Rochester, N.Y.; a full schedule can be found at www.lougramm.com. Meanwhile, the singer says he's eyeballing another album, his first since "Baptized By Fire" in 2009.
"I'm at the stage now where I'm starting to gather ideas for new songs," he says. "When I feel I have enough of them I'll start prepping for another record. I've got a studio in downtown Rochester that I've had for about 25 years; it's an analog studio, which I love, and so I think I'd like to record again -- even though there's no radio outlet for new music."