February 1985: Foreigner Lands First No. 1 with "I Want to Know What Love Is"

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By 1984, Foreigner were soaring high, backed by their four hit albums that made cash registers sing all around the world at a mere mention of the band's name. 

With such attention, however, came the stress of "the huge pressure of selling millions of albums," as well as warlike tension between chief songwriter and guitarist Mick Jones and vocalist Lou Gramm that resulted in "an emotional time that stirred up a lot of things," Jones confided to Classic Rock. 

With a divorce behind him him and an engagement at hand, Jones took his distress to his keyboard in the studio of his Kensington apartment, attempting to channel his 3AM insomnia into a fruitful, emotional brainstorm. 

That night, Jones came up with the title, opening chords and the chorus of what would become one of the greatest rock ballads in history. He immediately woke his sleeping fiancée to play the beginning of the tune, "I Want to Know What Love Is," to which she (laughed and) replied, "We're about to get married! Don't you know what love is?!"

Foreigner Cover Art

As the tune began to unfold, Jones set his heart on an even bigger, gut-wrenching sound. He recruited Dreamgirls' Jennifer Holliday, one of the Thompson Twins, and the New Jersey Mass Choir to bring the gospel-rock track to its full-fleshed form. 

Released as a single on November 13, 1984, Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" arrived as a single through Atlantic Records, steadily climbing Billboard's Hot 100 until it mounted the No. 1 throne on February 2, 1985. This would mark the rock titans' first and only No. 1 on the pop chart. 

Since its debut, the tune has lived on through countless renditions by other artists covering the timeless rock ballad, including the likes of Diana Ross, Gloria Gaynor, Wynonna Judd, Mariah Carey and even Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

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The song was #1 in America for three weeks in September and October 1985.
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