English musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and founding member of the rock band Foreigner, Michael Leslie “Mick” Jones was born 27 December 1944 in Portsmouth, England. He started playing guitar at an early age. After attending a couple of concerts by Elvis Presley, Jones began a music career in the early 1960s as a member of the band Nero and the Gladiators, who scored two minor British hit singles in 1961. After the demise of the band, Jones worked as a songwriter and session musician in France for such artists as Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, and Johnny Hallyday (“The French Elvis”), for whom he wrote many songs, including “Je suis né dans la rue” and “À tout casser” (which features Jimmy Page on guitar). When The Beatles toured France in 1964, they befriended Mick when Hallyday played on the same bill as they did. Between 1965 and 1971 Jones recorded in France with Tommy Brown (Thomas R. Browne) as State of Mickey & Tommy, as well as under other session names including the Blackburds, Nimrod, and the J&B.
In 1971 Jones returned to England and joined Gary Wright, formerly of the band Spooky Tooth, to form Wonderwheel in 1971. In 1972 Jones and Wright reformed Spooky Tooth, and after this Jones was a member of the Leslie West Band. He also played guitar on the albums Wind of Change for Peter Frampton, and Dark Horse for George Harrison.
In 1976, Jones formed Foreigner with Ian McDonald and recruited lead singer Lou Gramm. Jones co-produced all of the band’s albums and co-wrote most of their songs with Gramm. Jones wrote the band’s most successful single, “I Want to Know What Love Is”. Tensions developed within the band during the late 1980s and were attributed to a difference in musical taste between Gramm, who favoured a more hard-edged rock, as opposed to Jones’ interest in synthesisers. Gramm left the band in 1990 but returned in 1992. In 1989, Jones released his only solo album titled Mick Jones on the Atlantic Records label. Jones is the only person to play on every Foreigner album.
In between his Foreigner commitments, Jones also started a side career as a producer for such albums as Van Halen’s 5150 (1986) and Billy Joel’s Storm Front. He co-wrote with Eric Clapton the song “Bad Love” on Clapton’s Journeyman album, and in 2002 co-wrote the song “On Her Mind” with Duncan Sheik. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he played with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.