Despite being eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame since 2003, Foreigner only received their first nomination in 2024.

The omission stood out on an otherwise unblemished rock resume. With platinum albums, hit songs, Grammy nominations and millions of fans, the group has enjoyed the type of career most other acts only dream of.

Formed in 1976, Foreigner’s long consistent member has been Mick Jones. The guitarist has handled the brunt of the songwriting and has remained the cornerstone of the band, even as health issues have taken him away from touring. The classic-era Foreigner lineup featured Jones alongside singer Lou Gramm, guitarist Ian McDonald, keyboardist Al Greenwood, bassist Rick Wills and drummer Dennis Elliott. It is these men, along with original bassist Ed Gagliardi, who make up Foreigner’s Hall of Fame nominees.

Across nine studio albums, the band displayed songwriting and musicianship on par with many of rock’s greats. And while Foreigner’s commercial heights were largely contained to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, their legacy continues to resonate through generations of fans.

Here are five reasons they belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Stats Don’t Lie

Hall of Fame recognition isn’t based on statistics alone, but you can’t help but be impressed by Foreigner’s massive commercial appeal. They’ve landed 14 Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Jones and Gramm were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013. The group has sold 40 million albums in the U.S., with an estimated total of 100 million globally. Those career stats rank them among such greats as Guns N' Roses, Journey, the Doors, Def Leppard, Genesis and David Bowie. What do all of those artists have in common? A Hall of Fame induction.

Their Ballads Shook Mountains...

In the decade of power ballads, none were more emphatic than a pair of Foreigner mega-hits. Their 1981 song “Waiting for a Girl Like You” was a soaring, soulful tune that tapped into new territory for the group. It became Foreigner’s most successful single… until “I Want to Know What Love Is” came along three years later. The grandiose track took power ballads to new heights by integrating a gospel choir into the sound. "I had never conducted a gospel choir before!” Jones explained to UCR in 2013. “They were nervous, and I remember that just before we wrapped it up with the final take, we all got together in a circle and said the Lord’s Prayer, and it was such a moment. I think my mother was actually in the studio too. Everybody was in tears and we rolled the tape and they nailed it the first time.” “I Want to Know What Love Is” hit No. 1 in the U.S. and U.K. and went on to become Foreigner’s most enduring hit.

...But They Still Knew How to Rock

While the aforementioned power ballads certainly rank among Foreigner’s most beloved tunes, the band has plenty of heavy-hitting tracks in its arsenal. Debut single “Feels Like the First Time” announced the group’s arrival in a flurry of riffs and emphatic drums. “Double Vision” was a propulsive juggernaut, while “Hot Blooded” ranks among the most fist-pump-inducing tunes in history. Then there’s “Juke Box Hero,” an ode to rock star dreams that starts slow before building to one of the most recognizable choruses in music. Decades later, we’ve still got stars in our eyes.

They’ve Got the Backing of Fellow Legends

"Foreigner not in the Hall of Fame? What the fuck?" That’s the message Paul McCartney blasted out to his social media followers, advocating for the band’s induction. In a different star-studded video (see below), Slash, Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Red Hot Chili PeppersChad Smith and comedian Jack Black all argued Foreigner’s case. It’s obvious the band wants this honor – their campaign has been the strongest in recent memory. It doesn’t hurt that they have some major celebrity clout in their corner.


It’s Long Overdue

For years, Gramm and Jones claimed that Foreigner had been blackballed by the Hall due to a "personal vendetta" of Jann Wenner -- the creator of Rolling Stone and one of the Hall's founders. Unless Wenner comes out and admits he was sabotaging the band’s chances (he won’t), we’ll never know for sure why Foreigner has had to wait so long for consideration. That the band finally made it onto the ballot after Wenner’s dishonorable dismissal certainly raised a few eyebrows. Whatever the reason, Foreigner has been at the top of annual Hall snubs lists for what feels like an eternity. Induction in 2024 would finally bring the long-standing injustice to an end.

Foreigner Albums Ranked

It's hard to imagine rock radio without the string of hit singles Foreigner peeled off in the '70s and '80s.

Gallery Credit: Jeff Giles

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