But, he added, "You did the right thing. I forgive you now. C'est la vie!"
"That's a big weight off my shoulders!" laughed Jones.
Jones would play in several bands in the '70s, but nothing seemed to catch -- until one night he wrote the first chords of "Feels Like the First Time."
"And suddenly I'm thinking, 'My God, this song's pretty good!'"
"So did you have the song before you had the band?" asked Mason.
"Yeah, yeah. I needed a band!"
And that's how Foreigner was born.
But as it took off, Jones and lead singer Lou Gramm began to fight over the group's direction. They had a lot of disagreements, but according to Jones it wasn't competitive. "Lou considered himself to be just more of a down-and-out rock singer," he said.
Jones says Gramm thought the band's sound was getting too soft: "Especially when we got to 'I Wanna Know What Love is.' Although he sang it like an angel, he sort of disclaimed his affection for the song."
That bothered Jones, and the two would split in 2003.
"I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
In case I need it when I'm older."
"You know I look back on it now, I can't have been easy to work with in those days," Jones said. "I knew what I wanted -- I was pretty domineering."
"You sound like you have some regrets."
"Yes, I do."
When Jones and Gramm were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame last year, they performed together for the first time in a decade.
"You know, we hugged. And I think it dawned on both of us that, wow, we did do something pretty great together."
"It meant something to you?" Mason asked.
"Oh, big time!"
For the past decade, the guitarist has been leading a new Foreigner. They just released a live album.
- To listen to Mick Jones' intro to a live version of "Hot Blooded," from "The Best of Foreigner 4 & More," click on the link.
But a few years ago, Jones was forced to take a year off.
At the time, he blamed it on a heart valve problem, but now admits it was more than that: "I'd had a virtual nervous breakdown, brought on by a bad prescribing of medication."
In talking about it for the first time, Jones said, "It was a very dark time for me. I literally didn't know where I was anymore. I didn't know who I was. I mean, honestly I never thought I'd play on stage again."
"I lost the ability to play chords briefly, only for a couple of months. And my brother brought a guitar over for me and said, 'You play guitar. Play it. You're a guitarist. Play the guitar, you know.'"
"That must have been terrifying," said Mason.
"Yeah, it was terrifying."
"How do you come back from that?"
"You just somehow try and hold on."
With the help of his family, his four children and three step-children, he did. And Mick Jones, who turned 70 just yesterday, is on the road again.
The "Juke Box Hero" is back.
Mason said, "It must feel pretty good to go out on stage now then?"
"Yeah. It does. Sometimes, I think, yeah, wow. What a gift to have regained."
To watch Foreigner perform "Juke Box Hero," click on the video player below.
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