Huey Lewis and the News is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California. They had a run of hit singles during the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually scoring a total of 19 Top Ten singles across the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary and Mainstream Rock Charts. Their greatest success was in the 1980s with the No. 1 album, Sports, coupled with a series of highly successful MTV videos. Their worldwide fame expanded when the song "The Power of Love" was featured as a key track in the film Back to the Future, and became a number-one hit. "Back in Time" was also used in the movie. The News combined a rock (and sometimes, a "blues rock") backing with soul and doo-wop-influenced harmony vocals and Lewis's voice.
In 1972, singer/harmonica player Huey Lewis and keyboardist Sean Hopper joined the Bay Area jazz-funk band, Clover. Clover would record several albums in the 1970s, and in the middle of the decade transplanted themselves to England to become part of the UK pub rock scene for a time. Without Lewis (but with Hopper), they eventually became the original backing band for Elvis Costello's first album My Aim Is True. The band returned to the Bay Area by the end of the 1970s.
Clover's main competition in the Bay Area jazz-funk scene was a band called Soundhole, whose members included drummer Bill Gibson, saxophonist/guitarist Johnny Colla, and bassist Mario Cipollina (younger brother of John Cipollina). Like Clover, Soundhole had spent time backing a famous singer, Van Morrison. After getting a singles contract from Phonogram Records in 1978, Huey Lewis united his former bandmate and three of his former rivals to form a new group, Huey Lewis & The American Express. In 1979 they recorded and released a single, "Exo-Disco" (a disco version of the theme from the film Exodus), that was largely ignored. The B-side of this record, "Kick Back" was a song that had previously been performed live by Lewis and his former band, Clover. In 1979, the band would woo guitarist Chris Hayes and move to Chrysalis Records. After the credit card organization American Express complained, in January 1980 they changed their name to Huey Lewis and the News.
Later in 1980, the band issued their first album, a self-titled LP Huey Lewis and the News. It went largely unnoticed. In 1982, the band released their second album, the self-produced Picture This. The album turned gold, fueled by the breakout success of the hit single "Do You Believe in Love," written by former Clover producer, Mutt Lange, the single being used in the "Miami Vice" episode "Prodigal Son". Largely because of the single, the album remained on the Billboard 200 album chart for 35 weeks and peaked at No. 13. The follow-up singles from Picture This, "Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do" and "Workin' for a Livin'" followed with limited success, though the video for "Workin' for a Livin'" received considerable airplay on MTV and HBO's Video Jukebox.
Due to record label delays on the release of their third album Sports, Huey Lewis and the News was back to square one in late 1983, touring small clubs in a bus to promote the record. The new album initially hit No. 6 in the U.S. when first released. However, "Sports" slowly became a number-one hit in 1984 and multi-platinum success in 1985, thanks to the band's frequent touring and a series of clever, funny videos that received heavy MTV airplay. Four singles from the album would reach the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100: "Heart and Soul" (No. 8) (which was also their first No. 1 single on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart), "I Want a New Drug" (No. 6), "The Heart of Rock & Roll" (No. 6), and "If This Is It" (No. 6). The album has sold over 10 million copies to date in the U.S. alone.
Their song "The Power of Love" was a number-one U.S. hit and featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future, for which they also recorded the theme song "Back In Time," Huey Lewis has a cameo appearance in the film as a faculty member who rejects Marty McFly's band's audition for the school's "Battle of the Bands" contest. As a nice inside joke, the piece the band plays is an instrumental version of "The Power of Love" (Lewis's response: "Sorry, fellas ... I'm afraid you're just too darn loud"). "The Power of Love" was also nominated for an Academy Award.
Following the success of "The Power of Love" and Back to the Future, Huey Lewis and The News released Fore! in 1986. Fore! was the band's second number-one album on the Billboard 200. The album had widespread success, spawning two number-one singles, "Stuck with You" and "Jacob's Ladder". Fore! is also known for the Mainstream Rock number-one hit "Hip to Be Square". All told, the album had five top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified triple platinum.
The band continued to tour throughout 1987, and released Small World in 1988. After two mega-hit, multi-platinum albums, Small World was considered a commercial disappointment, stalling at No. 11 and only going platinum. The album, which was more jazz and less rock than their previous albums, had one major hit single, "Perfect World," which reached No. 3 on the pop charts.The album was voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as the worst album of 1988, though many Huey Lewis & The News fans regard Small World as their best.
At the end of the Small World tour in 1989, the band took a long-earned break from recording and heavy touring and parted ways with Chrysalis Records. In 1991 they released the Hard at Play album on their new label EMI, which went back to the R&B rock sound that listeners expected of them, and the band was able to crank out two more hit singles, "Couple Days Off" (No. 11) and "It Hit Me Like A Hammer" (No. 21). The album was certified gold and the band headlined another world tour in support of the release, which would be their last album of new material for a decade.
The band once again changed labels, this time signing with Elektra Records, releasing a cover album in 1994 called Four Chords & Several Years Ago featuring doo-wop and rock songs from the 1950s and '60s. This was the last album released with bassist Mario Cipollina, who left the band after the Four Chords & Several Years Ago world tour ended. The album charted on the Billboard 200 and had two big hits on adult contemporary radio.
Into the 21st Century
In late 2000, Huey Lewis furthered his acting career with his biggest starring role yet in the ensemble comedy "Duets." The film was a box-office flop. However, the soundtrack featured a duet between Lewis and co-star Gwyneth Paltrow on the Smokey Robinson classic, "Cruisin'," which became an unexpected hit, peaking at number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, as well as reaching the top spot on the Australian and New Zealand pop charts.
The band's first album with all new material, Plan B on Jive Records, was released in 2001, which was the last album with lead guitarist Chris Hayes as a member. The album was a collection of songs which the band enjoyed playing and gave the band some of the better reviews of their career. The album only briefly made the charts, while the lead single, "Let Her Go & Start Over", became a minor adult contemporary hit. Since 2001, no album containing new material has been released, but the band continues to tour, playing around 70 dates a year. In 2007, Garth Brooks released a duet with Huey Lewis, with a cover of "Workin' for a Living", featured as a new track on Brooks' The Ultimate Hits set. The single reached number 19 on the Billboard Country chart.
In 1984, Ray Parker Jr. was signed by the producers of Ghostbusters to develop the film's title song. Later that year, Huey Lewis and the News sued Parker, citing the similarities between the Ghostbusters theme song and their earlier hit "I Want a New Drug". According to Huey Lewis and the News, this was especially damaging to them since the Ghostbusters theme song was so popular, rising to number one on the charts for three weeks. Parker and Lewis later settled out of court. Huey Lewis has stated that his experiences with the producers of Ghostbusters may have been indirectly responsible for getting his band involved with the movie Back to the Future.
In the 2001 Behind the Music special, Huey Lewis stated: "The offensive part was not so much that Ray Parker Jr. had ripped this song off, it was kind of symbolic of an industry that wants something -- they wanted our wave, and they wanted to buy it. ... t's not for sale. ... In the end, I suppose they were right. I suppose it was for sale, because, basically, they bought it." As a result of this statement, Ray Parker Jr. has filed a suit against Huey Lewis, claiming he violated the settlement's confidentiality agreement and seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees. The lawsuit is ongoing.
The band continues to tour to this day; however, the lineup has changed significantly since the band's heyday. Mario Cipollina left the band shortly after 1994's Four Chords and Several Years Ago album and tour. His replacement since that time has been bassist John Pierce. The Tower of Power, which served as the band's horn section from the early 80's, also ceased their work with the band in 1994. Marvin McFadden, Ron Stallings, and Rob Sudduth joined the group in their place. In early 2000, Chris Hayes left "The News" to spend more time with his family, though he performed on their 2001 album Plan B. Stef Burns replaced Hayes, although guitarists Tal Morris and James Harrah have also filled in when Burns has had to leave due to other commitments. Hayes has occasionally appeared with the band when playing in the San Francisco Bay Area and is known to play some shows with other performers and friends in the San Francisco area.
Huey Lewis and the News recorded their live album, Live at 25, in December 2004 at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California, which celebrated their 25th anniversary as a band. In the summer of 2006, the band co-headlined a U.S. tour with Chicago. Highlights of the tour included Chicago's Bill Champlin playing with the band, and members of Huey Lewis and the News playing on Chicago's percussion-laden hit, "I'm a Man." Huey Lewis also sang the lead on Chicago's "Colour My World."
On , 2007, Lewis was interviewed on the podcast series Stuck in the 80s, during which he revealed that the band has written several new songs that they hoped to record sometime in 2008. He does state that, given how much the industry has changed since their last album, he's unsure at this point how they will sell the new material.
On , 2007, the band played a show at the California State Fair and were joined on stage by original bassist Mario Cipollina during a four-song encore, his first on-stage performance with the group in over 10 years. Huey Lewis and the News performed at the 28th annual presentation of A Capitol Fourth in Washington, D.C., on Friday, , 2008.
In 2008, Huey Lewis and the News recorded the theme song to the action-comedy film, Pineapple Express. The song is on the soundtrack to the film, which was released on , 2008, a day before the movie released on , 2008.
Ron Stallings died on April 13, 2009, from a hard fought battle with multiple myeloma.
Huey Lewis and the News members
Huey Lewis - (born Hugh Anthony Cregg, III on , 1950 Marin County, California) lead vocals, harmonica (1979 - present day)
Sean Hopper - (born Sean Thomas Hopper, , 1953, in San Francisco, California) - keyboards, backing vocals (1979 - present day)
Bill Gibson - (born William Scott Gibson, , 1951, in Sacramento, California) - drums, percussion, backing vocals (1979 - present day)
Johnny Colla - (born John Victor Colla, , 1952, in Sacramento, California) - saxophone, guitar, backing vocals (1979 - present day)
Mario Cipollina - (born , 1954, in San Rafael, California) - bass guitar (1979 - 1995)
Chris Hayes - (born Christopher John Hayes, , 1957, in Sacramento, California) - guitar, backing vocals (1980 - 2001)
John Pierce - bass guitar (1996- )
Stef Burns - guitar, backing vocals (2001- )
Tal Morris - guitar, backing vocals (occasional fill-in)
Marvin McFadden - trumpet, percussion, backing vocals (1994- )
Ron Stallings - saxophone (1994 - 2009)
Rob Sudduth - saxophone, backing vocals (1994- )