GLOVERSVILLE - "It'll come to me," Lou Gramm said Wednesday from his Rochester area home in Webster, racking his brain to think of the Beatles song he'll insert into his 90-minute show Friday night at the Caboose.
The soft-spoken, 62-year-old with the powerful singing vocals discussed how he's come full circle from the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" days of his past. A couple minutes later, the Fab Four tune came to him.
"'You Can't Do That,'" Gramm remembered, humming a bar. "That's a great song, isn't it?"
Eric Mack, owner of the Caboose in Gloversville, fastens a Lou Gramm Block Party banner Wednesday onto a fence outside the Caboose in preparation for the concert Friday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Foreigner - the group Gramm sang lead vocals for - had what many would consider great songs, too. Selling more than 70 million albums, mostly in the late 1970s and '80s, the iconic classic rock band played venues all over the world.
Now Gramm will lead his hand-picked band through many Top-40 Foreigner and solo hits at the Caboose's annual block party show at 8 p.m. Friday off West Fulton Street. Local band Skyler's Dream Team will open, with Gramm taking the stage about 9 p.m.
Caboose owner Eric Mack said Wednesday he's excited to have the legendary singer of such top-40 hits as "Feels Like The First Time," "Juke Box Hero," "Double Vision," "Hot Blooded," "I Want To Know What Love Is," "Blue Morning, Blue Day," "Cold As Ice," and solo hits such as "Midnight Blue," play at his club.
Mack said he's been organizing the annual block parties and wanted to reach for a prominent star in the entertainment business. About six months ago, he arranged the local show, paying $22,000 to bring Gramm here.
"Basically, I wanted to step up the game," Mack said.
Gramm, a Rochester native whose real name is Louis Grammatico, said he's never been to Gloversville, although he's "driven by it on the Thruway."
He's excited about Friday night.
"We have a booking agency and they're the ones who solicit the shows and have their feelers out," Gramm said. "We were told about Gloversville. We didn't flinch. We're excited."
Foreigner played every major venue in the world, including many dates at the nearby Saratoga Performing Arts Center, but now Gramm has the kind of intimate gig he said he likes. He's unapologetic about covering any of his old material. His brother, Ben, will play drums at The Caboose show.
"Big or small, if there's people who are into the music, it can be 50,000 people or 50 people," Gramm said. "We're going to rock just as hard."
He admits, however, "I get the same butterflies the minute before I go on."
Gramm, now in his third marriage, is grayer, older and heavier than he was during his days with Foreigner. But he said he also may be happier. He's feeling healthier, and his vocals remain spot-on.
He admits it was the hard life on the road and the pressures of songwriting that nearly killed him. Cutting his teeth with Black Sheep and playing western New York bars, he eventually hooked up with Mick Jones of Spooky Tooth before Foreigner hit it big. When the band came out with "Feels Like the First Time," he said it was non-stop touring, followed by immediate writing, followed by recording and doing it all over again for several consecutive years.
"It was a pretty wild ride," Gramm said.
By 1997, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that, although benign, damaged his pituitary gland and left him with some health problems he has been slowly recovering from.
"I found Jesus; I was struggling," he said, eventually recording with a Christian record that didn't receive a lot of promotion.
Although he says he has "nothing right now" on his plate as far as recording projects, Gramm enjoys time with his wife, Robyn, in Monroe County and touring occasionally. He has some upcoming shows in Canada after the Gloversville show. He has grown children ages 30 and 28, and 12-year-old twins who all live in the Rochester area.
"I'm actually at peace," Gramm says. "I know my limitations."