Huey Lewis and the News were a bar band that made good.
With their simple, straight-forward rock & roll, the San
Francisco-based group became one of America's most popular pop-rock
bands of the mid-'80s. Inspired equally by British pub-rock and '60s
R&B and rock & roll, the News had a driving, party-hearty
spirit that made songs like "Workin' for a Livin'," "I Want a New
Drug," "The Heart of Rock & Roll," "Hip to Be Square" and "The
Power of Love" yuppie anthems. At their core, the group was a working
band, and they knew how to target their audience, writing odes to
9-to-5 jobs and sports. As the decade progressed, the group smoothed
out their sound to appeal to the aging baby boomers that adopted them,
but by the beginning of the '90s, the appeal of their formula had
decreased. Nevertheless, the group remained a popular concert
attraction, and they continued to have radio hits on adult contemporary
stations.The roots of Huey Lewis & the News lay in Clover, an early
'70s country-rock band from San Francisco that featured Lewis (vocals,
harmonica) and keyboardist Sean Hopper. Clover moved to England in 1976
upon the urging of Nick Lowe, who believed they could fit into the UK's
pub-rock scene. In a short time, the group cultivated a small
following. Lowe produced the group's first single, "Chicken Funk,"
which featured lead vocals by Lewis and, the following year, the band,
minus Lewis, supported Elvis Costello on his debut album, My Aim is
True. Polygram released two Clover albums that failed to find an
audience and when their leader, John McFee, left the group to join the
Doobie Brothers, the band broke up and returned to California. Before
returning to the States, Lewis played harmonica on Lowe's Labour of
Lust and Dave Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary, which also featured
Lewis' song "Bad Is Bad."Upon their return to America, Lewis and Hopper
began jamming at a Marin County bar called Uncle Charlies, which is
where they formed American Express with Mario Cipollina (bass), Johnny
Colla (saxophone, guitar) and Bill Gibson (drums), who had all played
in Soundhole, one of Van Morrison's backing bands in the late '70s.
American Express recorded a disco version of "Theme from Exodus,"
calling it "Exodisco." Mercury released the single, which was ignored.
In 1980, the group added lead guitarist Chris Hayes and were offered a
contract by Chrysalis, who requested that the band change their name.
The members chose Huey Lewis and the News and the band's eponymous
debut was released later that year to little attention. The group's
second album, was released early in 1982 and the record became a hit on
the strength of the Top Ten single "Do You Believe in Love," which was
written by former Clover producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. A couple
other minor hits, "Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do" and "Workin'
for a Livin', "followed and the band began building a strong following
by touring heavily. Sports, the group's third album, was released in
the fall of 1983 and it slowly became a multi-platinum success, thanks
to touring and a series of clever, funny videos that received heavy MTV
airplay. "Heart and Soul" (#8, 1983), "I Want a New Drug" (#6, 1984),
"The Heart of Rock & Roll" (#6, 1984) and "If This Is It" (#6,
1984) all became Top 10 hits, and Sports climbed to number one in 1984;
it would eventually sell over seven million copies. Late in 1984, Lewis
sued Ray Parker Jr., claiming that his song "Ghostbusters" plagiarized
"I Want a New Drug." The suit was settled out of court. The News had
their first number one single in 1985 with "The Power of Love," taken
from the soundtrack to Back to the Future. Huey Lewis and the News
returned with their fourth album, Fore!, in 1986. The record sailed to
number one on the strength of five Top Ten singles: "Stuck With You"
(#1, 1986), "Hip to Be Square" (#3, 1986), "Jacob's Ladder" (#1, 1987),
"I Know What I Like" (#9, 1987), and "Doing It All for My Baby" (#6,
1987). The band was riding high on the charts when they decided to
expand their musical reach with 1988's Small World, dipping tenatively
into various American roots musics. While the record produced the Top
Ten hit "Perfect World," it was a commercial disappointment after two
chart-topping, multi-platinum albums, stalling at number 11 on the
charts and only going platinum.The News took three years to follow up
Small World with Hard at Play, which was released on their new label,
EMI. Hard to Play failed to break the Top 20 and only produced one hit,
"Couple Days Off." The group's commercial heyday had clearly passed,
and the group took the remainder of the '90s rather easy, touring
sporadically and releasing the covers album Four Chords & Several
Years Ago in 1994. Their first release for Elektra Records, the album
generated one adult contemporary radio hit, "But It's Alright," and
failed to go gold.