Huey Lewis in 2009
|Birth name||Hugh Anthony Cregg III|
|Also known as||Hughie Louis (1972–76), Huey Louis (1977–78)|
July 5, 1950 |
New York, New York, U.S.
|Origin||Marin County, California|
|Genres||Rock, blue-eyed soul|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, actor|
|Labels||Chrysalis, EMI America, Elektra, Jive, Capitol|
|Associated acts||Huey Lewis and the News, Clover, Thin Lizzy, Orleans, King Harvest|
Lewis sings lead and plays harmonica for his band, Huey Lewis and the News, in addition to writing or co-writing many of the band's songs. The band is perhaps best known for their third album, Sports, and their contribution to the soundtrack of the 1985 feature film Back to the Future. Lewis previously played with the band Clover from 1972 to 1979.
Lewis was raised in Marin County, California, attending Strawberry Point Elementary School (where he skipped second grade) and Edna Maguire Junior High School in Mill Valley. When he was 13, his parents divorced and he attended and later graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, in 1967, where he achieved a perfect score of 800 on the math portion of the SAT. Lewis applied to and was accepted by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
In an interview with David Letterman, Lewis talked about hitchhiking across the country to New York and how he learned to play the harmonica while waiting for rides. He talked about hanging out at the airport for three days until he stowed away on a plane to Europe. In future interviews Lewis would reveal other encounters while traveling Europe. While visiting the British city of Aberdeen, Scotland, with no money and nowhere to sleep Lewis claimed that the locals were very hospitable and would often offer him somewhere to stay. In Madrid, Spain, Lewis became an accomplished blues player and he hitchhiked around and supported himself by busking with his harmonica. He gave his first concerts in Madrid, earning enough money to buy a plane ticket back to the USA.
Upon his return, Lewis entered the engineering program at Cornell University. While there he made friends with Lance and Larry Hoppen who later played with Orleans and Eddie Tuleja of King Harvest. Initially an active student and a member of the fraternity Eta Lambda Nu, Lewis soon lost interest in college. He signed up with a band called Slippery Elm and in December 1969, during his junior year, he dropped out of Cornell and moved back to the San Francisco area. His aim was to continue playing music though along the way he also tried other fields of work including landscaping, carpentry, wedding and event planning and natural foods. Lewis lives on a ranch near Stevensville, Montana.
||This section of a biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012)|
In 1971 Lewis joined the Bay Area band Clover. Around this time he took the stage name "Hughie Louis", the spelling of which he would tinker with for some years after.
Other members of the band (at various points) were John McFee, Alex Call, John Ciambotti, Mitch Howie, Sean Hopper, Mickey Shine and Marcus David. Lewis played harmonica and sang lead vocals on a few tunes. Clover's main rival band (which developed into a friendly rivalry) was Soundhole (Johnny Colla, Bryan Davis, Ben Miller, Mario Cipollina, and Bill Gibson were band members).
In 1976, after playing in the Bay Area with limited success, Clover went to Los Angeles. They had their "big break" in a club there when their act was caught by Nick Lowe who convinced Clover to travel to Great Britain with him. However, Clover arrived in Britain just as their folk-rock sound, known as pub rock in Britain, was being replaced by punk rock.
The two Clover albums produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange under the British Phonogram label were not successful. By this point the spelling of Cregg's stage name had changed to "Huey Louis"; it is under this spelling that he is billed on both of Clover's albums for Phonogram.
In 1978 the band returned to California, McFee joined the Doobie Brothers, and Clover disbanded.
Under the name "Huey Harp," Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's 1978 landmark album Live and Dangerous. That same year, Lewis was playing at Uncle Charlie's, a club in Corte Madera, California, doing the 'Monday Night Live' spot along with future members of the News. After recording the song "Exo-Disco" (a disco version of the theme from the film Exodus) as Huey Lewis and the American Express, Huey landed a 'singles contract' from Phonogram Records and Bob Brown became his manager.
After a failed self-titled debut in 1980 the band finally broke through to Top 40 success with the gold album Picture This (1982). It rose to No. 13 on the Albums chart thanks to the Mutt Lange-penned "Do You Believe in Love" (No. 7), the band's first hit.
The band's third LP, the No. 1 Sports (1983), is one of the best-selling pop releases of all time. It has sold ten million copies in the US alone. That well received album was followed by Fore! (1986), another No. 1 multi-platinum hit.
Lewis produced Nick Lowe's 1985 version of "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)", and later produced several songs (including one where he sang backup and played harmonica) on Bruce Hornsby & The Range's debut album, The Way It Is. Hornsby thanked him by writing the song "Jacob's Ladder", a No. 1 single from The News' next album.
Lewis and his bandmates performed on USA for Africa's 1985 fund-raising single We Are the World, and spent the remainder of the 1980s and early 1990s recording 14 Top-20 Billboard Hot 100 hits and releasing two more hit albums: Small World (1988) No. 11 and Hard at Play (1991) No. 27. Lewis also performed in the song "Once Upon a Time in New York City" for the 1988 Disney film, Oliver & Company.
On February 13, 2007, Lewis was interviewed on the podcast series "Stuck in the 80s". During the interview he revealed that the band has written several new songs that they planned to record in 2008. He also stated that, given how much the industry has changed since their last album, he was unsure how they would sell the new material.
During a show at the California State Fair on August 21, 2007 Lewis was named Sacramento's "Musician of the Year" by the fair's General Manager and presented with a gold statue of the California state bear.
On July 4, 2008, the eve of his 58th birthday, Huey Lewis and the News were the opening act for the annual A Capitol Fourth celebration on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. More than a half million people attended, and was broadcast live on PBS. The band performed "The Heart of Rock & Roll", "The Power of Love" and "Workin' for a Livin'".
On May 29, 2011, Lewis played the annual Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois, along with Chicago-based progressive jam band Umphrey's Mcgee. They were billed as Huey Lewis and The Rumors. Together they played covers as well as songs from both their respective catalogs.
On April 2, 2013, Lewis appeared on the ABC television series Dancing with the Stars, where he performed "The Heart of Rock and Roll" in celebration of the 30th anniversary release of Sports and a concert tour with the News.
In 1985, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. over similarities between Parker's theme for the 1984 movie Ghostbusters and Lewis's "I Want a New Drug". The case was settled out of court with both parties agreeing to keep the settlement secret. In 2001, Parker sued Lewis, alleging that in a "VH1 – Behind the Music" Episode, Lewis had discussed the settlement in violation of their nondisclosure agreement.
See Huey Lewis and the News discography for albums and singles by the band. Below are specific contributions by Huey Lewis as a solo artist.
- 1978: Live and Dangerous Thin Lizzy; harmonica
- 1979: Labour of Lust Nick Lowe; harmonica
- 1979: Repeat When Necessary Dave Edmunds; harmonica
- 1979: The Day The Earth Caught Fire City Boy; harmonica
- 1980: Solo in Soho Phil Lynott; harmonica, drums
- 1985: Back to the Future Soundtrack; producer
- 1985: USA for Africa: We Are the World; harmonica, vocals, producer
- 1985: The Way It Is Bruce Hornsby & the Range; harmonica, vocals, producer
- 1987: Freight Train Heart Jimmy Barnes; harmonica, background vocals
- 1988: Oliver & Company Soundtrack; performer on "Once upon a Time in New York City"
- 1991: Live at Slim's, Vol. 1 Joe Louis Walker; harmonica
- 1993: A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys Asleep at the Wheel; vocals on "Ida Red"
- 1994: Unknown Territory Dick Dale; harmonica
- 1995: Come Together: America Salutes the Beatles; performer on "Oh! Darling"
- 1997: Marching to Mars Sammy Hagar
- 1997: Kill My Brain Nick Gravenites; harmonica
- 2000: Duets Soundtrack, performer on 3 tracks; #102 US (#16 Billboard Top Soundtracks)
- 2005: Wrapped Around Chicago: New Years at the Riv Umphrey's McGee; guest performer on "Bad Is Bad"
- 2006: Safety In Numbers Umphrey's McGee; vocals and harmonica on "Women Wine and Song" ; harmonica on "End of the Road"
- 2007: Gospel Duets with Treasured Friends Brenda Lee; performer on "Oh Happy Day"
- 2008: A Long Way from Tupelo Paul Thorn; harmonica
- 2009: Great American Soulbook Tower of Power; performer on "634-5789"
The following table denotes singles that Lewis has charted with solo credits.
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US||US AC||US Country|
|2000||"Cruisin'" (w/ Gwyneth Paltrow)||109||1||—||Duets (soundtrack)|
|2008||"Workin' for a Livin'" (w/ Garth Brooks)||115||—||19||The Ultimate Hits (Garth Brooks album)|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
In the acting world, Lewis' debut was a cameo in the 1985 film Back to the Future—which featured several Huey Lewis and the News songs in the soundtrack. His character is one of the teachers auditioning acts for the high school talent show early in the film.
|1985||Back to the Future||Band audition judge||Cameo; also co-wrote and sang 2 songs for the soundtrack|
|1992||"Is There Life Out There"||Reba McEntire's husband||Music video|
|1993||Short Cuts||Vern Miller|
|1998||Shadow of a Doubt||Al Gordon||Showtime movie|
|1998||Dead Husbands||Dalton Phillips||TV movie; uncredited|
|2000||Duets||Ricky Dean||His song "Cruisin'" became a No. 1 hit|
|2002||.com for Murder||Matheson|
|2002||Just Shoot Me!||Gary Rosenberg||Episode: "The Boys in the Band"|
|2004||One Tree Hill||Jim James||2 episodes|
|2006||King of Queens||Himself||Episode: "Hartford Wailer"|
|2010–12||Hot in Cleveland||Johnny Revere||3 episodes|
|2011||The Cleveland Show||Guy Who Looks Like Huey Lewis||Episode: "Die Semi-Hard"|
- "Search Results". August 12, 1984.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography: Huey Lewis". Allmusic. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
- Kaliss, Jeff. "Huey Lewis still spreads the news", San Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2005
- "Huey Lewis Baits Ducks, Ends Hunting Near Property". Billings Gazette. Associated Press. November 25, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- "Deep Cut". Missoula Independent. June 17, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- according to the band's own VH1 special.
- "Stuck in the 80s" podcast 2007-02-13
- "Need We Say More? > News > Huey Lewis and the rUMors at Summer Camp". Jambands.com. 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
- Ray Parker Jr. Suing Huey Lewis Over 'Ghostbusters' Comment
- Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks from billboard.com