Lou Gramm stood behind enemy lines and survived. It happened right here on Long Island.
With a packed crowd at the Nassau Coliseum waiting for Foreigner to take the stage, a promoter walked over and handed him a New York Islanders hat.
"He wanted me to wear it because it would fire up the local crowd," Gramm said. "But I had Rangers season tickets for 10 years, I sang the national anthem at Madison Square Garden two or three times per year. I was friends with a lot of the Rangers players. I could not, I absolutely could not wear that hat."
Foreigner's lead singer handed the hat to the drummer before taking the stage.
"I couldn't be caught dead with that cap on," Gramm said.
This Friday, Gramm returns to Long Island to play Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington, where presumably the stage won’t be decorated in orange and blue. The concert is part of Arts Alive LI, a month-long festival that showcases Long Island's best arts and cultural attractions.
Gramm will play plenty of Foreigners hits, including "Juke Box Hero," "Hot Blooded," and "I Want to Know What Love Is," as well as songs from his solo career, including "Midnight Blue" and "Just Between You and Me."
This tour comes decades after Foreigner was selling out arenas such as the Nassau Coliseum throughout the United States. But Gramm is in a much better place.
Scott Pitoniak, who co-authored Gramm’s autobiography “Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ‘N’ Roll,” said the Hall of Fame songwriter paid the price of fame.
"Lou has regrets that the touring took him away from the rearing of his two sons," Pitoniak said. "Those tours lasted over a year. He's a very thoughtful guy and it’s very poignant to listen to him talk about it."
Gramm said the touring, and the loneliness that came with it, pushed him into drug and alcohol abuse.
He remembers waking up the day after playing Madison Square Garden in 1991 and having no idea where he was.
"That day I put a scare into myself. I came to terms with the fact that I had an alcohol and drug addiction I had no control over," Gramm said. "I prayed to God to intervene and help me because I could not help myself."
He entered rehab, where he sat with millionaire businessmen along with a pilot who flew a commercial plane while on drugs. Thirty days later he left clean and sober.
Or as Pitoniak said, "he got his life back."
In 1997, he nearly lost it again. Gramm was suffering from headaches and dizziness. Doctors had discovered a giant tumor and it took a 19-hour surgery to save him.
"The brain tumor had an incredible impact on his life and career, and it was a long road back," Pitoniak said.
This Friday, Foreigner and Gramm fans will relive many of the hits, and the crowd will sing along to the lyrics that helped him land in the Songwriters Hall of Fame earlier this year.
"When the crowd joins in and they’re pumping their fists, it's a feeling like no other," Gramm said. "It validates me as an artist."
And while Gramm is in a much different place than all those years ago at the Nassau Coliseum, some things don't change.
"I'm not wearing anything that says 'Islanders' on it," Gramm said. "I guess I could wear a shirt on stage, rip it off and set it on fire.
"Now that would bring the house down."
WHO: Lou Gramm
WHERE: Landmark on Main Street, Port Washington
DATE: October 11
TIME: 8 p.m.