Huey Lewis

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Huey Lewis
Huey Lewis 07-05-2009.jpg
Huey Lewis in 2009
Background information
Birth name Hugh Anthony Cregg III
Also known as Hughie Louis (1972–76), Huey Louis (1977–78)
Born (1950-07-05) July 5, 1950 (age 64)
New York, New York, U.S.
Origin Marin County, California
Genres Rock, blue-eyed soul
Occupations Musician, songwriter, actor
Instruments Vocals, harmonica
Years active 1971–present
Labels Chrysalis, EMI America, Elektra, Jive, Capitol
Associated acts Huey Lewis and the News, Clover, Thin Lizzy, Orleans, King Harvest
Website hueylewis.com

Huey Lewis (born Hugh Anthony Cregg III; July 5, 1950) is an American musician, songwriter, and actor.

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.

Early life[edit]

Huey Lewis was born in New York City. His father, Hugh Anthony Cregg, Jr., MD, is an Irish American from Boston, and his mother, Maria Magdalena, was Polish, from Warsaw.[1][2][3]

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.[4] Lewis applied to and was accepted by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His mother entered a relationship with Beat Generation poet Lew Welch who became Lewis' stepfather.[5]

In an interview with David Letterman,[6] 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.[7][8]

Music career[edit]

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.

Clover—without Lewis—also backed Elvis Costello on his 1977 debut album My Aim is True.

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.

The band played a few gigs (including an opening for Van Morrison), before adding new guitarist Chris Hayes to the line-up. On Brown's advice they changed their name again to Huey Lewis and The News.

Lewis performing in 2006

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.[9] 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.

Huey Lewis has sung with Umphrey's McGee at several shows beginning with the 2005 Jammys and is featured on two tracks of their album Safety In Numbers.

Lewis performing in Nashville, TN, November 2008

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.[10]

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.

Lewis recorded a duet version of "Workin' for a Livin'" with Garth Brooks, which was included on Brooks' 3-disc set The Ultimate Hits, in late 2007.

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.[11]

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.

Lawsuit[edit]

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.[12]

Recording credits[edit]

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.

Album appearances[edit]

Singles[edit]

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[13] Duets (soundtrack)
2008 "Workin' for a Livin'" (w/ Garth Brooks) 115 19 The Ultimate Hits (Garth Brooks album)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Filmography[edit]

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.

Year Title Role Notes
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 Sphere Helicopter Pilot
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 The 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"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Search Results". August 12, 1984. 
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography: Huey Lewis". Allmusic. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Kaliss, Jeff. "Huey Lewis still spreads the news", San Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2005
  5. ^ Coyote, Peter (1998). Sleeping Where I Fall. Couterpoint. p. 205. ISBN 1887178678. 
  6. ^ interview
  7. ^ "Huey Lewis Baits Ducks, Ends Hunting Near Property". Billings Gazette. Associated Press. November 25, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Deep Cut". Missoula Independent. June 17, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2011. 
  9. ^ according to the band's own VH1 special.
  10. ^ "Stuck in the 80s" podcast 2007-02-13
  11. ^ "Need We Say More? > News > Huey Lewis and the rUMors at Summer Camp". Jambands.com. 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  12. ^ Ray Parker Jr. Suing Huey Lewis Over 'Ghostbusters' Comment
  13. ^ Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks from billboard.com

External links[edit]