Foreigner: Hot Blooded at 40

Sacramento Region, CA  |  By Jacqueline Fox
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The current band members of Foreigner. Photo by Bill Bernstein, courtesy lappenenterprises.com

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Tom Gimbel. Photo courtesy Foreigner.

MPG Exclusive Interview of All-Time Great Rockers

Group Plays Toyota Amphitheatre Sept. 1st at 7:00 pm

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) – Wanna know what love is?  Just ask Tom Gimbel about Rock-and-Roll and his 25 years as a member of the platinum-selling, British-America rock band, Foreigner, celebrating its 40th anniversary with a best hits album and a nation-wide tour, which includes a stop at the Toyota Amphitheater in Wheatland September 1.

“I love rock and roll and being a part of this amazing band,” says Gimbel, 57, a Berklee College of Music graduate who plays rhythm guitar, sax and a number of other instruments.  Gimbel joined the band on a “temporary” basis in 1992 after a short stint with that other, quintessential 1970s and early 80s rock and roll outfit, Aerosmith.  Obviously the love between Gimbel and Foreigner founder and, according to Gimbel, the mastermind behind the band’s longevity, Mick Jones, was mutual. 

Foreigner’s 1976 debut included break-out hits, such as “Cold as Ice” and “Feels Like the First Time.” 

In celebration of the tour and the anniversary of its founding, the band have released a new CD titled “40-Forty Hits from Forty Years,” which includes popular tunes such as “Long, Long Way From Home,” “Hot Blooded,” and perhaps one of the band’s most popular, softer rock hits of the 1980s, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” which is on the Wheatland lineup and will be performed with back up from the Lincoln High School Choir.

“This is something we do on our tours every time,” says Gimbel. “We have a contest for the local schools and our publicist works with the choir’s to submit their video performances and the winner gets to join us on stage and perform. It’s an awesome experience, for them and also for the band.”

Foreigner donates $500 to each of the high school choirs selected for a performance on the tours and the choir in turn sells the new CDs during the shows to raise funds for Foreigner’s charity partner, The Grammy Foundation, which provides support for music education in schools across the country, among other things.

“Our fundraisers help us support a cause that is very close to our hearts,” says Gimbel. “It is very important for us to keep music education in schools strong. There are many kids out there who are in their school bands and that is the only thing that keeps them going back every day. Don’t even get me started about the studies that have been done on the benefits of art and music on a young person’s development.”

The band will perform with Cheap Trick as well as Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.  Bonham is the son of late Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham. Cheap Trick also made its debut in the 1970s with hits including “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me.”

So, now that we know what love is, what keeps it feeling like the first time?

“I think the key to our band’s longevity and success is the fact that our original founder, Mick Jones is always steering the ship,” Gimbel says.  “Foreigner was his vision and it has always been his vision. He is constantly overseeing the band and who is in it, how they are playing.  It’s very subtle, but he’s in charge. If we get too far off the mark, he comes in and gets us back on course.”

The band’s music, in fact much of the music from the 1970s, including that of Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones, among others, just as popular today among youth across the country and worldwide. Vinyl record sales of classic rock are strong, and the 1970s rock-and-roll genre, with loud, in-your-face guitar and strong rock vocals driving the beat, are as popular with many new music fans as they were upon their first release decades ago.

“It’s the ultimate compliment,” says Gimbel.  “That gives me hope. I see the guitar as this faded image. The sax hangs around.  It’s in the music of the Rolling Stones, Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen. But the guitar sound has been on vacation for a while. Rock music, per se, has not really dominated the airwaves for a while now, so it’s great to know there is interest again.”

And how long can the love go on?

“We’re thinking as long as people want us to do this, we are going to keep playing,” Gimbel said.

IF YOU GO:

Foreigner with Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
Toyota Amphitheatre, Wheatland
Friday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m.
For tickets: www.toyota.amphitheatrewheatland.com