Lewis was born Hugh Anthony Cregg III in New York City. Lewis was raised in Marin County, California. In 1967, at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, 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.
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 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 U.S.
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.
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.
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". Clover—without Lewis—also backed Elvis Costello on his 1977 debut album My Aim is True. In 1978 the band returned to California, and 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 recording contract from Phonogram Records.
The band played a few gigs - including an opening for Van Morrison - before adding 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. It rose to No. 13 on the Albums chart thanks to "Do You Believe in Love," the band's first hit.
The band's third LP, the No. 1 Sports, is one of the best-selling pop releases of all time. It has sold ten million copies in the U.S. alone. That well received album was followed by Fore! another No. 1 multi-platinum success.
Lewis produced Nick Lowe's 1985 version of "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)," and later produced and played on several songs on Bruce Hornsby & The Range's debut album, The Way It Is.
He and his bandmates also 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 fourteen Top-20 Billboard Hot 100 hits and releasing two more hit albums: Small World in 1988 and Hard at Play. Lewis also performed in the song "Once Upon a Time in New York City" for the 1988 Disney film, Oliver & Company.
|Photo by Thousandrobots|
The band, now in semi-retirement, still plays 80+ U.S. dates a year and an occasional European tour.