"Happy 62nd Birthday"
Huey Lewis (Hugh Anthony Cregg III, born 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.
Huey Lewis was born in New York City. His father, Hugh Anthony Cregg II, was an Irish American from Boston and his mother, Magda, was a Polish refugee.
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.
(Lawrenceville School Yearbook 1967)
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. He claimed to sleeping rough at times. While visiting the Scottish city of Aberdeen 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 Cornell University where he entered the engineering program. 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.
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 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" Huey 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.
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 smash.
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 band-mates 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.
By the time the band released the album of cover songs Four Chords & Several Years Ago (1994) No. 55, their chosen lower profile and lack of promotion from new label Elektra saw their Top 40 appeal dip.
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.
(Huey Lewis rehearses for his first performance with Umphrey’s)
The band, now in self-proclaimed semi-retirement, still plays over 80 dates a year in the U.S., and an occasional European tour. The average fee for Huey Lewis and the News to play a private college-sized show is around $200,000.
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.
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, Huey 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.