How Diana Ross Inspired Foreigner’s ‘Jukebox Hero’ Musical
Earlier this week, Jukebox Hero, a musical that incorporates 22 Foreigner songs, made its world premiere in Toronto. As Mick Jones said in a new interview, the idea to make a musical was inspired by a chance meeting with Diana Ross roughly 40 years ago.
"It was in Atlanta," he told Billboard. "We were both traveling back to New York and we were in this little VIP area and it was just us in the room. ... She was getting involved in theatrical production and out of the blue, she said, 'You know, you have a great song. It could work as a musical. It's great idea.' It was 'Juke Box Hero.' I thought, 'Wow, she knows that song.'"
Co-writer and former Foreigner singer Lou Gramm then wonders if Gene Simmons, who was romantically involved with Ross around that time, introduced her to the song, which was released in 1981 on their smash album 4. Jones was unsure.
The show's book, by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, eschews the song's real-life story about a boy with a rock and roll dream for one of a tale of battling brothers in a Pennsylvania town as the local steel mill is closing. But Jones added that, even though he is from England, he could relate to their story they created because of his roots.
"Yeah, a lot of my family were working class people," he said. "And I keep aware of things. I see what's happening in America, for example, what's happening all over the world. There's a tremendous amount of unemployment and nobody seems to have the answer to it. You've got people that have worked 35, 40 years in the job that is their family, and suddenly it's torn apart at that point in their lives when they deserve to be enjoying it. They're victims of corporate greed, the whole capitalist corporate thing that we live in. We've never been a political band. We've never written protest songs [but] I think it's important."
The show, which was workshopped last year, ends its scheduled run tomorrow, and Jones is hoping that it will continue towards a musical's ultimate destination.
"Obviously, [Broadway] would be a dream come true," he said. "I hope it's going to resonate with people. From what I've seen already, it seems to be accepted. Boy, if it hits Broadway, even Off-Broadway, I'm open to that."