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The Sound

‘Plain good rock music’


Foreigner performs at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 15 with Night Ranger opening.

Before Tom Gimble joined Foreigner in 1995, he built an impressive resume. He’d played two world tours with Aerosmith and appeared in “Wayne’s World 2.” The tour wasn’t the “crazy” Aerosmith of the 1980s; it was the “clean and healthy” version. Gimble thought life couldn’t get any better — until he joined Foreigner, where he could play other instruments including his guitar, saxophone, flute and keyboards.

“With Foreigner, it was so much fun playing my guitar again,” he says. “Or playing ‘Urgent’ on the saxophone. I love all the instruments equally. My favorite is the one I’m playing at the moment.”

Gimble plays with the rest of the band at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 15, with Night Ranger opening. He estimates he’s played nearly 100 shows a year, adding up to more than 1,000 concerts. With 50 million records sold and 14 top-20 singles, hits such as “Feels Like the First Time,” include lyrics that are “just plain good rock music.”

“Not every song is a headbanger or muscle and loud guitar,” he says. “Ladies come and like the lyrics. It’s great harmonizing.”

The song, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” is sung by a gospel choir on the original album. During their concerts, they bring in local school choirs to sing back up, giving them a donation.

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“It was Mick’s (Jones) idea to try to help the schools’ music programs. Funding keeps getting cut. Music helped me find my way in the school band. Maybe music can help a kid,” he says.

Gimble feels the lyrics and musical quality contributes to the band’s success.

“Our lyrics have emotions people can relate to. Most people want to know what love is,” he says. “Often we attach a memory or certain feeling or time in your life that takes you back to those days. I love that feeling of what music does.”

He dispels a myth of partying in his down time, keeping it low key.

“I go to the bar every day,” he says. “The salad bar, that is. Or I go to S.A. — Smoothies Anonymous. I’m up to two a day and trying to cut back.”

His favorite hobby is golfing. It keeps him out of trouble.

“I used to chase women,” he says. “Now I chase golf balls; they’re harder to catch.”

He admits to being an open book and says he’s single, but married to his instruments. When told that Baby Boomer women are interested in him, he exclaims, “I need numbers. Where’s the evidence?”

Whether it’s men or women, he appreciates the fans. He says music is the universal language between musicians and fans.

“To the fans, thank you for listening. They are as important as us making the music,” he says. “People who really love music, I think of them as fellow musicians.”

Gimble says he’s fortunate to have played nearly every venue, including Carnegie Hall (his mom’s favorite and most proud moment).

“I feel pretty good. It doesn’t matter where we are. It’s the people, seeing their faces light up and singing in the audience louder than the band,” he says. “It’s magnificent to be part of those moments where people come together.” ♦

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