When FOREIGNER performs in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 4, the group's current seven-piece lineup will share the stage with five former members — Dennis Elliot (drums, 1976-1992), Al Greenwood (keyboards, 1976-1980), Rick Wills (bass, 1979-1991), Ian MacDonald (guitar/vocals, 1976-1980) and Lou Gramm (vocals, 1976-1990 and 1992-2003).
While the group has performed a handful of shows in recent years featuring surprise guest appearances by its alumni — including two concerts in Mount Pleasant, Michigan last October that were professionally filmed, but have not yet been released — the Sturgis date marks the first time FOREIGNER has announced a "reunion show" in advance.
In a recent interview, FOREIGNER's current bassist, Jeff Pilson, was asked whether DOKKEN — a group in which he performed for 15 years, and with whom he temporarily reunited in 2016 to tour Japan and, ironically, South Dakota — has considered a similar approach where former members join forces with the band's current lineup.
"I never even thought about a current and alumni situation with DOKKEN," Pilson told writer Clay Marshall. "I don't know why, but that just doesn't strike me [as viable]. If DOKKEN were to reunite, I think that that would kind of be confusing if you had everybody up there at once. With FOREIGNER, we sort of stand on our own as the 'new' FOREIGNER, so bringing in the alumni isn't a marginalization. It's an enhancement. I don't know if that would work quite the same way with DOKKEN. With DOKKEN, it was a little bit more of the personalities involved than, say, with FOREIGNER. With FOREIGNER, it's really about the music. With DOKKEN, I think it was about the music, but then there was the personalities too, which is why perhaps there's more of a demand or a desire to see the original band reunite.
"Having said that," Pilson continued, "I certainly don't discount the fact that somewhere down the line, it's entirely possible that DOKKEN could reunite for more shows. Maybe we will go to a show where Don [Dokken] is playing with his DOKKEN and we get up on stage. We've done that before; I can see that [happening]. But a serious reuniting of DOKKEN is not impossible — it's just really difficult because of the schedules. My FOREIGNER schedule is pretty prohibitive, so it would be hard to do a whole tour. I would love if DOKKEN did a whole new record, but that's a time commitment that's hard to make. It's not impossible. We've talked about it. We all get along fine, so it's not out of the realm. If somebody could create a 40-hour day, we'd be set."
Pilson also commented on how DOKKEN's legacy has grown over time. "I think that DOKKEN's music was timeless within its own genre," he said. "The music is what propels the legacy, and I think it was resonant enough with enough people that I can see how over time it would grow. Am I surprised? A little bit, and very pleasantly so, which is why I don't take it for granted, and I would never just outright reject the idea of us doing more together, and maybe trying to organize a tour with everyone. Again, it's down to schedules. We made some good music; we had good chemistry; and we all reaffirmed that with ourselves when we did this new song ['It's Another Day'] on the live record ['Return To The East Live (2016)']. It was really painless; it was really natural; and it was really fun, which I think shocked us all. But there is a chemistry there, and it's kind of undeniable. I think when you have chemistry like that, that transcends all the other crap, and that's what I think creates the long-term legacies that grow."
Pilson's comments were made prior to Don Dokken telling SiriusXM radio personality Eddie Trunk earlier this week that the group is currently considering an offer to play a Minneapolis one-off show in September with original guitarist George Lynch. If that concert takes place, Dokken said, it would feature Lynch performing alongside the group's current guitarist, Jon Levin.
"I have to keep my respect for Jon Levin," Dokken said. "I don't wanna step on Jon Levin's toes, 'cause he's my brother, and he's one of my best friends. They made an offer, and I said, 'I'll play with George. We don't mind playing with George. But it's gonna have to be George and Jon [playing together at the same time].'"
DOKKEN is currently working on a new album featuring the group's current lineup — Dokken, Levin, bassist Chris McCarvill and longtime drummer Mick Brown.
FOREIGNER's "Juke Box Heroes" summer tour with WHITESNAKE and JASON BONHAM'S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING wraps up in Irvine, California on August 1.