Foreigner’s Mick Jones Reveals Parkinson’s Disease Battle

Foreigner founder Mick Jones’ ongoing absence from the band’s live concerts since 2022 has been widely noticed and commented on by fans. He’s now revealing that it is Parkinson’s disease that has sidelined him from being on stage with the group, which is in the midst of a farewell tour.

“Fans will have become very aware that for some time now, I have not been performing onstage with the band. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I want everyone to know that I am doing alright,” Jones said in a statement released on Wednesday (Feb. 21). “However, I’ve always liked to be at my best when performing onstage, and sadly, at present, I find that a bit difficult. I am still very much involved in the background with Foreigner and remain a presence. Parkinson’s is a daily struggle; the important thing is to persevere and remind myself of the wonderful career I’ve had in music. I thank all the fans who have supported Foreigner throughout the years and continue to attend our concerts — I want you to know I appreciate your support; it always means so very much to me, but especially so at this point in my life.”

The English-born Jones, 79, formed Foreigner during 1976 in New York, shortly after playing in the Leslie West Band. He put together a band of British and American musicians, including Ian McDonald of King Crimson fame and Lou Gramm from the band Black Sheep, and hit it out of the box with a self-titled debut in 1977, which reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, was certified five-times platinum and launched the enduring hits “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice.” In its wake Foreigner has released eight more studio albums and sold more than 80 million records worldwide, spawning additional hits such as “Hot Blooded,” “Urgent,” “Juke Box Hero” and “I Want to Know What Love Is” (the lattermost a Billboard Hot 100 topper).

Earlier this month the group received its first-ever nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After the first week of fan voting, Foreigner ranked third, behind Ozzy Osbourne and Peter Frampton, with well over 100,000 votes.

During his last years of touring with the band Jones would come on for a few songs each night, a bit like a special guest at the shows. Foreigner is currently led by bassist Jeff Pilson, who’s been with the band since 2004, and frontman Kelly Hansen, who joined the following year.

In a previous interview, Billboard asked Jones — who had heart surgery during 2012 and was playing only a few songs each night with the band during the late 2010s — about the prospect of Foreigner continuing without him on board. “That’s a tough one,” he said, adding that, “I look at it as a team. If you think about…any kind of sports teams, they change players all the time. The thought of my music carrying on in that way has some appeal to me.”

Pilson, meanwhile, told Billboard last year that Jones still makes “the final decision” on anything related to the band — including checking off on the farewell tour that began last summer. “I would say it was difficult for him because (Foreigner) is his baby,” the bassist noted. “This is his lifetime achievement. It’s difficult, but I know he endorses the decision.” The tour is slated to finish in North America this summer; dates have been announced through Aug. 28, including a summer run with Styx and John Waite. Band manager Phil Carson says some international dates might take the tour into 2025, however.

There may also be some new Foreigner music in the offing — the band’s first since 2009’s Can’t Slow Down album, save for “The Flame Still Burns” from the 2017 compilation 40. “It is very much in the realm of possibility,” Pilson said last year. “We do have some tracks floating around unfinished, and they’re unfinished for a reason; we haven’t figured out what to do just yet. But they’re good songs, so at some point I’m really hoping they come out.”

Hansen added that Jones has been writing with longtime collaborator Marti Frederiksen. “There’s a whole bunch of stuff in different stages of completion,” he said. “We’ve got stuff going back a long time, so I think that might be something that’s going to happen.”

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