Huey Lewis: the soundtrack of my life

Huey Lewis
(Image credit: Deanne Fitzmaurice)

NYC-born Huey Lewis dropped out of university in his late teens to join the rock’n’roll circus in 1969. Having graduated through Slippery Elm to become lead vocalist and harmonica player with Clover, Lewis was ultimately ‘discovered’ by Nick Lowe, who encouraged him to come to the UK to try his luck on the burgeoning pre-punk pub-rock scene. 

After guesting on Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous, Lewis formed Huey Lewis And The News in 1978. Five years later, their third album Sports exploded, going multi-platinum in the US and spawning four Top 10 hits. Supernova success ensued when The Power Of Love appeared on the Back To The Future soundtrack Tragically, since being diagnosed with Ménière’s disease in 2018, Lewis has faced significant hearing problems that have effectively halted his music career.


The first music I remember hearing

That would have to be my dad’s jazz. It was 1954 or ’55 and I was four or five years old. He used to play a lot of big band jazz, but his favourite record, that he played all the time, was Louis Armstrong’s Satch Plays Fats and it’s since become one of my favourite records.

The first song I performed live

Back in college I used to do Somebody Hoodoo’d The Hoodoo Man, Hoodoo Man Blues, the Junior Wells tune, and I think that was probably one of the first songs I ever played.

The greatest album of all time

You shouldn’t apply numerology to art, but among the greatest of all time you’ve got to include a Stevie Wonder record, most probably Music Of My Mind. And as far as a straight-ahead rock record goes, AC/DC’s Back In Black.

The guitar hero

There are so many good guitar players, but I like Robben Ford a lot. And I should probably say Steve Lukather, because he’s a good buddy of mine.

The singer

Paul Rodgers, Van Morrison, Frankie Miller and any number of old black R&B singers. I think Johnny Taylor might be my favourite singer of all time. WhatI look for in a great singer is commitment.

The songwriter

Todd Rundgren is right up there for me. Love Is The Answer is a gorgeous song. He’s not the most obvious choice, but he’s written some really great ones.

The best record I've made

Our latest [2020’s Weather]. And I’m not just saying that. It’s only seven tracks, but it’s up there with some of our best work, and two or three of the tunes on there are our best work: While We’re Young, Her Love Is Killin’ Me and One Of The Boys represent some of our best work of all time, and all three of those are on our new record. 

The worst record I've made

Well, I’ve made some bad ones. We made a song called If You Really Love Me, You’ll Let Me. It was terrible. Not a good song. It wasn’t even played very well.

My guilty pleasure

Unfortunately my hearing collapsed four years ago, so I don’t listen any more. I’m basing all of this on memory, because I can’t hear music any more. But my guilty pleasure used to be modern country music. That said, I guiltily love stuff like Brad Paisley’s Online and The Fishing Song.

The most underrated band ever

The greatest band that nobody really knew about that much is Little Feat. You knew them in your country more than most people, and they were reckoned critically, but they certainly weren’t as popular as they should have been.

The best live album

That’s got to be Frank Sinatra, Live At The Sands, with Quincy Jones conducting. Unbelievable. I actually saw that band. They opened with All Of Me just with piano, drums and bass, then the whole band stood up for the chorus, and then back to the trio. An absolute tour de force. 

I saw that band in 1966 at Mountain Theatre. It was basically the Count Basie Band, and they’re playing those songs 200 nights a year. Nothing was written, but the horn section were playing and bending notes as one. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.

My Saturday night party song

Something to make you dance? Well it’s got to be Cold Sweat by James Brown.

My 'in the mood for love' song

Steve Wonder’s You And I. Beautiful. I love it.

The song that makes me cry

[Thin Lizzy’s] The Boys Are Back In Town. The reason I say that is because I miss my pal Phil Lynott, and that’s what makes me cry. Phil was important to me. He helped me in many different ways. He taught me what popularity was going to be like, how to be a band leader, how to deal with press, fans, record companies, the whole bit. He was a mentor to me and I think about him still. He was one of the greats.

The song I want played at my funeral

I think I’m going to go with Sow A Little Kindness, which is a song that I wrote that hasn’t even been recorded yet: ‘Sow a little kindness, reap a little love’. I love it, but we somehow never got it right, and then I lost my hearing. I have a demo of it, so we’ll play that at my funeral.

Back To The Future: The Musical is currently running at London’s Adelphi Theatre.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.