Huey Lewis Was Jogging When He Wrote Famous Lyrics

Hearing-impaired singer reflects on 'Power of Love' as he releases what may be his last album
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2020 9:50 AM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2020 1:30 PM CST
Huey Lewis Was Jogging When He Wrote Famous Lyrics
This 2019 photo shows musician Huey Lewis posing for a portrait in New York.   (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP, File)

Huey Lewis and the News just released a new album, Weather, but Lewis himself won't be able to listen to it. And longtime fans might have to reconcile with this being the group's last-ever release—thanks to the disease that has robbed the 69-year-old Lewis of his hearing. Coverage:

  • The ailment: Lewis has Meniere's disease, an inner-ear disorder related to dizziness and hearing loss, explains NPR. "I can't hear the notes—I just hear cacophony," Lewis says. He received the diagnosis in 2018 and previously said he was "suicidal" at first.
  • Earlier problem: What casual Lewis fans might not realize is that the singer lost most of the hearing in his right ear in the mid-'80s, but he was able to carry on. “You only need one ear,” he recalls a specialist telling him at the time, per Esquire. “Brian Wilson had one ear.”
  • That song: The mid-'80s, of course, is when Lewis and his band rose to international stardom thanks in particular to the Power of Love, theme for the Back to the Future movie. Lewis and co-writers (and fellow band members) Chris Hayes and Johnny Colla tell the Wall Street Journal how it came to be. Guitarist Hayes gave Lewis the chord progression he'd written for a new song, and Lewis then came up with the main lyrics while out jogging. "I was thinking of my family," says Lewis. "I had married a year earlier and we had our first child, Kelly, in '84. Austin was on the way. I was no longer a bachelor. The power of love keeps you home at night."

  • Two regrets: While making the rounds for his new album, Lewis told Jimmy Kimmel that he has two big regrets from the 1980s: First, he turned down a sponsorship deal from Coca-Cola, which wanted to turn "The Heart of Rock & Roll" into a commercial and pay him millions, reports Billboard. "Stupid," he now says of his decision. Second, Bob Dylan sent him a song, but he turned it down. "I don't know what I was thinking."
  • A punk influence: Dave Holmes at Esquire has an interesting piece about Lewis and his music, including how Lewis was influenced by mid-'70s punk—but not in the traditional way. "The music wasn't for him, but the punk spirit was," writes Holmes, adding that "Huey's more of a risk-taker than his spot in the mainstream would suggest." When his country-rock group of the time broke up, Lewis gravitated to the music and sound he loved—R&B. He also championed the likes of newcomers such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bruce Hornsby. Holmes also offers this poignant general assessment of Lewis: "He is as upbeat as a man can be when he’s beginning to speak about himself in the past tense."
  • Still hoping: Despite his diagnosis, Lewis isn't definitively ruling out performing again, notes Rolling Stone. That's partly because of the nature of his ailment. "It's a syndrome based on symptoms," he says. "If you have fullness in your ears, vertigo, and tinnitus, they call it Meniere's, but they don't know what it is." In the meantime, he's writing songs for a musical to be called The Heart of Rock and Roll, and he's filming a documentary about his life and career.
(Read more Huey Lewis stories.)

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