FOREIGNER’s JEFF PILSON On MICK JONES: ‘I Suspected That He Had Parkinson’s Disease Long Before He Even Got The Diagnosis’

In a new interview with the “Focus On Metal” podcast, FOREIGNER bassist Jeff Pilson was asked if it was difficult for him to not say anything when people would ask about the absence of FOREIGNER‘s co-founder and guitarist Mick Jones from the band’s recent shows, especially in light of the fact that it has now been revealed that Mick is battling Parkinson’s disease. Jeff responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It’s been extremely difficult. I mean, it’s been really difficult. It’s somewhat heartbreaking. Although, I’ve gotta tell you, I suspected that he had Parkinson’s long before he even got the diagnosis. And I think I even mentioned something, but management was like, ‘No, no, no, no. He’s been checked for that. It’s not that.’ Oh, wow. Anyway. But, yes, it’s been difficult.”

Pilson continued: “It’s uncomfortable, but I’m glad he’s bringing it up because hopefully they can start to do something about this horrible, horrible, horrible disease. My stepfather had it, which is probably how I recognized some of the signs. So, yeah, I’m hoping that this leads to more people trying to help out in conquering a really horrible disease.”

The 79-year-old Jones, who has not performed with FOREIGNER since 2022, opened up about his diagnosis in a social media post on Wednesday (February 21). He wrote: “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. 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.”

Mick is a Songwriters Hall Of Fame inductee, and Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated rock legend. Jones, also a recipient of the prestigious British Ivor Novello Songwriter Award for “The Flame Still Burns”, the soundtrack for the film “Still Crazy”, is the founding member of the British-American rock band FOREIGNER.

Jones is the creative force behind iconic rock and roll hits such as “I Want To Know What Love Is”, “Urgent”, “Cold As Ice”, “Hot Blooded” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You”. Formed in 1976, FOREIGNER has become one of the world’s best-selling groups, with global sales exceeding 80 million.

Michael Leslie Jones, known professionally as Mick Jones, was born and raised in England. He began playing the guitar as a teenager and formed his own blues/rock band. After opening for THE ROLLING STONES in South London pubs, Jones got his first significant break working for French hitmaker Sylvie Vartan, with whom he opened for THE BEATLES at the Olympia in Paris. He also accompanied Jimi Hendrix on tour in France.

Jones then became the musical director and songwriter for French rock icon Johnny Hallyday, contributing to some of Hallyday‘s biggest hits. Jones continued to work in France until 1971. George Harrison had encouraged him to move to New York, after which he reformed SPOOKY TOOTH with Gary Wright and played with THE LESLIE WEST BAND and George Harrison himself.

In 1976 Jones formed FOREIGNER. The group, comprised of two other Englishmen, Ian McDonald and Dennis Elliott, and three Americans, Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi, went on to release some of rock and roll’s most enduring classics, including “Cold As Ice”, “Feels Like The First Time”, “Long, Long Way From Home”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Hot Blooded”, “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, “Head Games”, “Say You Will” and the global No. 1 hit “I Want To Know What Love Is”.

With more top 10 hits than JOURNEY and as many as FLEETWOOD MAC, and 10 multi-platinum albums, FOREIGNER continues to chart on radio airplay and the Billboard 200 almost five decades later.

Outside of his work with the band, Jones has maintained a solo career as a producer, working with BAD COMPANY and producing the best-selling albums of Billy Joel (“Storm Front”) and VAN HALEN (“5150”). He co-wrote the Grammy Award-winning song “Bad Love” with Eric Clapton and “Dreamer” with Ozzy Osbourne.

In July 2023, FOREIGNER commenced its two-year farewell tour with a spectacularly successful headline run at Live Nation amphitheaters. The second part of the tour will begin in June 2024 with a 40-show adventure across America.

Photo credit: Karsten Staiger

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