Showing What Love Is: Foreigner Inspires The Who, Skynyrd, Others To Support Shriners Hospitals For Children
For the last 10 years, Foreigner has worked with the Shriners Hospitals for Children, which sells CDs at shows and collects the proceeds, and this year re-recorded a new music video with lead singer Kelly Hansen and band founder Mick Jones of its most famous song, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” complete with children’s choir and with all proceeds going to the Shriners.
“I have to give credit to Mick Jones for allowing the Shriners to use the song,” Hansen told Pollstar. “I know he would only allow that song to be used for something special. I had been to a Shriners hospital in St. Louis and seen a lot of the kids benefiting from the work they do. So we had this idea to come to the hospital in Florida and film this concept.
“It was really great, we had a lot of kids there and during the filming for the concept of this release, and also had the Shriners choir comprised of many children from all over to record this song. It was really great. It was a long shoot, I think two days we spent on it, and these kids were so great, with great patience and energy and enthusiasm. And that’s one of the reasons why you realize it’s such a great thing to do.”
Of all things, the band’s relationship started with co-manager Phil Carson and his daughter trying to sell CDs at the merch table at gigs.
“My daughter Jody was working for Foreigner, we were running a small ship at the time – she was the assistant tour manager, doing merchandising and so many things. We could never figure out why we were never selling CDs at the merch stack,” Carson told Pollstar.
“So one day we walked out with a box of CDs and announced to people as they were coming outside, ‘Come get your Foreigner CDs!’ We sold a couple of boxes each doing that. How dignified for the legendary manager of Foregner and his daughter to be doing that?” Carson said, laughing. “But we did it just as an experiment. How do you get people to do that for you at a gig? You can’t pick people up off the street to deal with $20 CDs for cash, you’ll never see them again! Jody came up with the idea involving a charity. And she started off with a kids shelter in Dallas, a couple local charities, to have them sell these CDs. And it worked.
“And then she started looking around for a national charity. We wanted a kids charity, and she came across the Shriners hospitals for children, who are a remarkable organization, and they put us in 23 hospitals that look after kids regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. Just amazing people.
“So she set that up, and we’ve been doing that ever since. Eventually, she left us to set up a business. She’s now the Shriners’ fundraiser for rock and roll, she brought in The Who, the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Breaking Benjamin, John Fogerty, Boston, and Kid Rock – all these artists now support the Shriners through CD sales at venues. I think her record was 1,600 CDs and it put a record back on the charts!” Carson said.
“Through our own sales we’ve donated something like $300,000 and recently we donated ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ for their ‘Show Them Love’ campaign, because we believe in what they do. It’s been tremendous for them and for us.”
Since 1922, Shriners Hospitals for Children has provided pediatric specialty care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.
They have treated more than 1.3 million children from more than 180 countries. To learn more, go to shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.