Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 89

were lucky to find a champion at the record
company in John Kalodner."
Radio was crucial in breaking the band.
Atlantic's staff loved Foreigner, but since the
band was a new signing, it hadn't attracted
much attention from founder Ahmet Ertegun,
who was focused on his superstar acts, not
using his power and influence to open doors.
But Foreigner would soon become a
priority.
"We didn't get special treatment
from Ahmet at that time," said
Jones, who's now 72. "He was
busy with the Rolling Stones and
Led Zeppelin. We had to earn our
association with him, and it had
a lot do with staff being very into
the album. They loved it.
"When I look back on 'Feels Like the
First Time,' it was a very pivotal start.
It was the first song that I'd written by
myself for several years. As corny as it
sounds, it did feel like the first time! I
couldn't believe it, really. We'd hear all
of these incredible stats about sales and
airplay, but it was so far beyond our expectations. It was a nice surprise, I have
to say! Those were very giddy times."
Hitting the road near the release of
Foreigner rapidly built the fan base.
"We did some club dates and a few
bits of tours here and there with Ted
Nugent and Uriah Heep. The first
break, really, was getting to tour with
the Doobie Brothers. That gave us great
exposure. They were a very hot band
at the time and something to compete
with. Everything went great. They were
very kind, and helped nurture us a bit."
Foreigner enjoyed triumphs
with Double Vision, Head
Games, 4, Agent Provocateur, and Inside Information, all of which sold
millions.
The public embrace
practically guaranteed an
unkindly response from
music critics. Jones isn't exactly sure why they ripped
Foreigner.
"There was a feeling
they didn't have any
part in discovering
the band, due to
the nature of the
way we formed,"
he said. "But I've
been able to talk
with many that
were closet Foreigner fans. Like
[Rolling Stone and
Creem critic] Lester

Bangs, whose forté at the parties was playing
air guitar to 'Hot Blooded.'
"It was the same with [Sex Pistols vocalist]
Johnny Rotten at one point!" he laughed. "The
number of musicians and younger bands these
days that quote my name as an big influence
is very gratifying. We were never the critics'
darlings. I think with 4 they started to pay
more attention because we did
stretch out a bit, but you have
remember that we came
out of the dawn of punk
and new wave - even disco
was huge! We had a lot to
combat."
In fact, Foreigner took
critical darlings like the
Ramones and the Cars on tour
with them.
"I was interested in a lot of contemporary music... always have been,"
said Jones. "I keep my ear to the
ground. I listen to what my children
are getting into."
Wearing so many creative hats can
be exhausting, but Jones thinks of
himself primarily as a guitarist and
songwriter. He fused the two roles
to create a signature style.
"I've always figured it's halfway
between rhythm and lead. Pete
Townshend was a big influence on
me, on back to Chuck Berry; he
This Les Paul and Les Paul Custom
and have long been among Jones'
preferred stage guitars. Jones'
'59 Strat embodies the influence
of Buddy Holly on his playing.

January 2018

89

VINTAGE GUITAR

was probably the best combination of
lead-guitar and incredible rhythm. That
motivated me to go for the feel. Foreigner
is a guitar-driven band, really. Much
more these days than it probably was at
the beginning."
Speaking of guitars, Jones has used
just a handful over the years. His first
decent electric was a Burns, a popular
brand in England in the '60s. Early in
his professional career, he moved to a
Gibson SG, then an ES-345.
"The 345 was almost identical to the
one Chuck Berry played. It was a rich
orange-red color - my favorite guitar. It
was a real classic and had a lot of history.
Unfortunately, it was stolen. Instead of
getting another, I bought
my first Les Paul in the
mid '70s."
His arsenal during the
Foreigner years included
two single-cut Les Pauls.
He also has an appreciation
for Teles and Strats. When
he tracked guitar parts
on Foreigner records,
he enhanced the tone
of the Les Paul by
layering on a Tele
to give it sparkle.
His attraction to
the Strat is the
inf luence of his
early idol, Buddy
Holly. Jones also
owns a handful of
Precision basses and
Gibson J-200s.


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