‘It’s what keeps me alive’: Mick Jones on his return to Foreigner after heart surgery

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Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones says he seriously considered retirement after undergoing a bypass procedure in February.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Jones tells Artisan News. “I was sort of coming to terms with the fact that it might be a possibility. But, at the end of the day, it’s what keeps me alive.”

Jones, who founded the band with Ian McDonald in 1976, has played guitar on every Foreigner recording, and wrote its most successful single ever — “I Want to Know What Love Is,” sung by now-departed original frontman Lou Gramm. McDonald has also long since departed. In fact, when Jones was absent for this series of 2012 Foreigner shows, it meant that the band was continuing without any of its original members.

He had a heart bypass procedure at Miami’s Mount Sinai Heart Institute in February, and has been slowly working his way back to full strength, Jones says. He made an initial return to the stage during a recent show with Foreigner in Atlanta.

“It was very emotional, really,” Jones says. “That’s never happened to me before. I’d never missed a show in my life. The band is so good, though, that I wanted to keep it going. I could not let go of it. So they held it together, and just getting back together with the guys was wonderful. They were very supportive.”

Previous to Foreigner, Jones had been a member of Spooky Tooth, and had appeared as a sideman on Peter Frampton’s Wind of Change in 1972 and George Harrison’s Dark Horse in 1974. He also co-wrote Eric Clapton’s “Bad Love,” as well as “On Her Mind” with Duncan Shiek. Jones has toured as part of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, and was also producer for Van Halen’s 5150 and Billy Joel’s Storm Front. Jones’ lone solo project was 1989’s Mick Jones.

“I’m feeling well,” Jones tells Artisan News. “I’m sort of working my way back in, making sure I’m healthy enough. I’m feeling good. Everything is sort of behind me now.”

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