Lou Gramm (born Louis Andrew Grammatico; May 2, 1950) is an American rock singer-songwriter, best known for being the original lead singer of the British-American rock band Foreigner.
Gramm began his musical career in high school playing in local Rochester bands, including St. James Infirmary (later The Infirmary), PHFFT, and Poor Heart. Gramm then went on to sing, play drums and eventually become front man for the band Black Sheep. Black Sheep was the first American band signed to the Chrysalis label, which released their first single, “Stick Around” (1974). Black Sheep played in nightclubs in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, including McVan’s, formerly at Niagara Street and Hertel Avenue. Soon after this initial bit of success, Black Sheep signed with Capitol Records, releasing two albums in succession [Black Sheep (1975) and Encouraging Words (late 1975)]. They were the opening act for Kiss when an icy accident with their equipment truck on the New York State Thruway suddenly ended the band’s tour on Christmas Eve, 1975. Unable to support its albums with live performances, Black Sheep disbanded.
A year earlier, Gramm met his future bandmate Mick Jones. Jones was in Rochester performing with the band Spooky Tooth, and Gramm had given Jones a copy of Black Sheep’s first album (S/T). It was early in 1976, not long after Black Sheep’s truck accident, when Jones, in search of a lead singer for a new band he was assembling, expressed his interest in Gramm and invited him to audition for the job of lead singer.