Huey Lewis and the News
Synopsis of Pop Music
"They say the heart of rock and roll is still beating,
And from what I've seen, I believe 'em..."
Rock and roll music has always been about rebellion, embracing that one group or style that your parents just can’t stand. But every once in a while, a band comes along that builds a temporary bridge across that generation gap, finding a pop/rock sound that everyone can agree on. Delivering the good-time goods with a rock-n-soul beat, Huey Lewis & the News did just that. And while there may still have been the occasional misunderstanding (“’I Want a New Drug’ is about love, mother!”), the boys in the band kept the musical peace for a good portion of their 1980’s heyday.
At the end of the 1970’s, former Clover singer/harmonica player Huey Lewis and keyboardist Sean Hopper were looking for a new band on the San Francisco bar scene. The duo joined with bassist Mario Cipollina, saxophonist/guitarist Johnny Colla and drummer Bill Gibson, jamming at the local bar Uncle Charlie’s on a regular basis. After one failed single (the Exodus theme redesigned as “Exodisco”), the band signed on guitarist Chris Hayes, recorded a demo, and soon found itself with a contract and a debut album.
1980’s Huey Lewis & the News was a mix of cover tunes and originals, but the group’s bar band energy didn’t yet connect with radio audiences like it did live. A second album, 1982’s Picture This, started to change all this. “Do You Believe in Love” broke into the Top-10, and “Workin’ for a Livin’” helped turn Huey Lewis & the News into blue-collar heroes. The rise of MTV didn’t hurt the band’s fortunes any either, as the photogenic Lewis and a series of clever videos brought the News some major national face time.
Picture This gave the group its first Top-20 (and eventual gold) album, but 1983’s Sports was about to kick Huey Lewis & the News into the pop/rock stratosphere. Songs like “Heart and Soul,” “I Want a New Drug,” “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” “If This Is It” and “Walking on a Thin Line” were the kind of infectious, hook-driven tunes that appealed to everybody. The first four singles all went Top-10, and the album itself hit #1 in the summer of 1984. A humble bar band no longer, Huey Lewis & the News were kings of the Top-40 scene, winning over baby boomers and their kids as well.
The band’s first #1 single arrived in 1985, hot on the flaming tracks of a custom-built, time-traveling DeLorean. “The Power of Love,” featured in the film Back to the Future (as was Lewis himself), was another rockin’ love ditty, one that eventually sold over a million singles and became an unofficial anthem of the summer of ’85.
The band followed up its #1 success with a new album, Fore!, released in 1986. “Stuck With You” and “Jacob’s Ladder” gave the group two more #1 singles, while “Hip To Be Square,” “I Know What I Like” and “Doing It All (For My Baby)” all hit the Top-10. The News’ gift for good-time rock and roll anthems remained intact, as did their knack for entertaining videos—from the buried-to-their-necks on a desert island gag of “Stuck With You” to the tiny surgical-cam perspective of “Hip To Be Square.”
1988 brought the release of Small World, along with the #3 single “Perfect World” and the title tune, “Small World.” The album was a platinum-selling success, but coming on the heels of the multi-platinum Sports and Fore!, many saw the new album as a disappointment. The band remained true believers in the heart of rock and roll, however, and after going back to their roots for a few bar gigs to work out material, Huey Lewis & the News released Hard at Play in 1991. The success of the singles “Couple Days Off” and “It Hit Me Like a Hammer” proved that the group still connected with baby boomer rock fans, but the kids were starting to enter their inevitable rebellious phase, ready to embrace grunge rockers Nirvana later in the year.
The band released a cover album, Four Chords & Several Years Ago, in 1994, and Lewis parlayed his Back to the Future big-screen debut into a series of small roles in the 1990’s. Though the band’s Top-40 success had dwindled from the glory days of the mid-80’s, Huey Lewis & the News continued to gig in the 90’s, drawing appreciative crowds who still grooved to old-school rock and roll. And if the kids still liked it, they were welcome to come, too.
Artist Release History1980 - Huey Lewis & the News
1982 - Picture This
1983 - Sports
1986 - Fore!
1988 - Small World
1991 - Hard at Play
1994 - Four Chords & Several Years Ago
1996 - Time Flies: The Best of Huey Lewis & the News
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsTime Flies: The Best of Huey Lewis & the News (Elektra)
Band MembersHuey Lewis vocals, harmonica
Sean Hopper keyboards
Mario Cipollina bass
Johnny Colla saxophone, guitar
Bill Gibson drums
Chris Hayes guitar