The band's debut album Foreigner was released in March 1977 and sold more than four million copies in the United States, staying in the Top 20 for a year with such hits as "Feels Like the First Time", "Cold as Ice", and "Long Long Way From Home". Their second album, Double Vision (released in June 1978), topped their previous selling five million records and spawned "Hot Blooded", the title track "Double Vision" and "Blue Morning Blue Day". Their third album, Head Games, which was referred to by Gramm as their "grainiest" album, was also successful due to the thunderous "Dirty White Boy" and another title track hit "Head Games".
For 1979's Head Games, bassist Ed Gagliardi was replaced by Englishman Rick Wills. In September 1980, keyboardist Al Greenwood and co-founder Ian McDonald were sacked as Jones wished to have more control over the band and write most of the music (along with Gramm). The band was now stripped down to a quartet, with session players brought in as needed to record or tour (see below). Greenwood soon joined Gagliardi to form the AOR band SPYS with John Blanco, Billy Milne, and John DiGaudio. The band released two albums, a self-titled debut, and the follow-up Behind Enemy Lines.
In the meantime, Foreigner's next album, 4,(released in July 1981) was the band's biggest hit containing "Urgent", "Waiting for a Girl Like You", "Juke Box Hero", and "Break it Up". Before releasing albums of his own, Thomas Dolby played synthesizers on 4 (he contributed the signature synth sound on "Urgent" and played the intro to "Waiting For A Girl Like You").
Their next album, Agent Provocateur, was released successfully in late 1984, and gave them their first and only #1 hit in 1985 (in U.S., UK, Australia, Norway, Sweden, etc.), "I Want to Know What Love Is", a gospel-inspired ballad backed by the New Jersey Mass Choir. "That Was Yesterday" was the next single released from the album in early 1985 and proved to be another sizable hit. In late 1987 Foreigner released Inside Information; spawning hits such as "Say You Will" and "I Don't Want To Live Without You". In the late 1980s, Jones and Gramm each put out solo efforts and Gramm decided to leave the group in 1990.
In 1990, Mick Jones brought in a new lead vocalist, Johnny Edwards (formerly of the bands Montrose, King Kobra, Buster Brown and Wild Horses). This edition of Foreigner released the album Unusual Heat in the summer of 1991. This was at the time their worst selling album and only climbed as high as #117 on the Billboard 200, although "Lowdown and Dirty" was a minor mainstream rock hit, reaching #4 on that chart. Just after the start of the Unusual Heat tour, Elliott decided to leave the group. Larry Aberman was then recruited as a temporary replacement. Since 1992 several other drummers have come & gone, including Mark Schulman, Ron Wikso, Brian Tichy and Denny Carmassi. Jason Bonham is the current drummer.
By 1992 Lou Gramm rejoined Foreigner (bringing along his Shadow King bandmate bassist Bruce Turgon) and produced the band's second greatest hits album, The Very Best of...and Beyond, which included three new songs. Three years later Foreigner released what was supposed to be the band's comeback album, Mr. Moonlight. This album fared even worse than Unusual Heat, due to the rising popularity of alternative and grunge rock, although the ballad "Until the End of Time" was a minor hit, hitting #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1997 Gramm underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. The medications he was prescribed caused considerable weight gain and affected his singing voice.
In 2001, the Warner Music Group selected Foreigner and 4 to be among the first group of albums from their catalog to be remastered, enhanced and released in the new DVD Audio format. In 2002, the 25th Anniversary Year brought affirmation of the enduring respect for Foreigner recordings with Rhino Entertainment re-issuing the 1977 - 1981 multi-platinum albums in special enhanced formats. Foreigner, Double Vision, Head Games and 4 received the attention of Rhino's staff with new photos, liner notes and bonus tracks of previously unreleased material. New greatest hits albums were also produced in the U.S. and in Europe. The U.S. version reached #80 on the Billboard 200 Album chart.
In late 2002, Foreigner played in the Netherlands at the annual Night of the Proms festival. It was the last time to date that Gramm & Jones have played together as musical disagreements at that point caused Gramm to leave again by early 2003 to embark on another solo career.
Jones, the founder and only remaining original member of Foreigner, decided to take some time off before looking to form a new lineup in 2004. On July 25, 2004 in Santa Barbara, California at Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort, Jones appeared with a brand new version of Foreigner that included: Jeff Jacobs, Thom Gimbel, former Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson, current UFO drummer Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who had also played with the brief Led Zeppelin reunions and his own band Bonham) and Bonham singer, Chaz West. West was hired for that show only and was eventually replaced by former Hurricane singer Kelly Hansen.
Their most recent album, Extended Versions, featured the new line-up playing all their classic hits live in concert in one of the most "studio like, clean sounding" live album recordings produced. They are currently working on a new album which will include a mix of both new songs as well as new takes on their old material.
In September 2007 it was announced that Foreigner would join Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings, and Paolo Nutini as openers for the one-night-only Led Zeppelin reunion show in memory of Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertegun. The show took place on December 10, 2007, in London, England, having been postponed by 2 weeks due to Jimmy Page fracturing a finger.
The band currently has a new greatest hits anthology that was released on July 15, titled No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner. The anthology will include all of their greatest hits plus some new live recordings and a new studio track, "Too Late", which will be the first new track since 1994's Mr. Moonlight, and the first recorded output of the new lineup. "Too Late" was released as a single on June 17, 2008. In 2008 Bonham parted ways with Foreigner