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Lewis was born in New York City and raised in Marin County, California, attending Strawberry Point Elementary School (where he skipped second grade) and Edna Maguire Junior High School in Mill Valley. His mother, Magda Cregg, was a Polish refugee and the girlfriend of poet Lew Welch, and his maternal grandfather had gained some success as the inventor of the red wax protective sealant used on certain varieties of cheese. When he was 13, his parents divorced and he was sent to an East Coast prep school instead of going to Tamalpais High School with his classmates. He graduated from Lawrenceville School, New Jersey, in 1967 with 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 USA.
On his return, Lewis entered Cornell University, joining the engineering program. While there, he made friends with Lance and Larry Hoppen, who later played with Orleans and King Harvest. Initially being 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, moving back to the San Francisco area. His aim was to continue playing music, but along the way he also tried other fields of work including landscaping, carpentry and natural foods.
In 1971, Lewis joined the Bay Area band Clover. Around this time he took the name Huey Lewis. The Lewis is for his mother Magda Cregg's boyfriend, Beat Generation poet Lew(is) Welch, whom he considered his stepfather. Sean Hopper joined the band in 1972; other members of the band were John McFee, Alex Call, John Ciambotti, Mitch Howie, Mickey Shine and Marcus David. Lewis played harmonica with the band and only sang lead vocals on a few tunes. Clover's main rival band (which developed into a friendly rivalry) was Soundhole (Johnny Colla, 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 was not successful in Britain, and the band arrived just as their folk-rock sound (known as pub rock in Britain) was being replaced by punk rock. They recorded two albums for the British Phonogram label; both albums produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, but neither were successful.
While Huey went on vacation, the rest of Clover backed Elvis Costello on his debut album My Aim is True. The band returned to California, McFee joined the Doobie Brothers, and Clover disbanded.
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), Huey landed a 'singles contract' from Phonogram Records, and Bob Brown became his manager. Huey Lewis and the American Express formed in 1979, with the same line-up as the News. The band played a few gigs (including an opening for Van Morrison), but on Brown's advice, they changed their name again. Huey Lewis and the News became their moniker.
After a failed self-titled debut in 1980, the band finally broke through to Top 40 success with the gold album Picture This (1982) riding to #13 on the Albums chart thanks to the Mutt Lange-penned "Do You Believe In Love" (#7), which became the band's first hit.
The band's third LP, the #1 Sports (1983), is one of the best-selling pop releases of all time. It has sold ten million copies in the US alone. It was followed up by Fore! (1986), another #1 multi-platinum smash.
in 1995, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. over similarities between Parker's theme for the 1984 movie Ghostbusters and Lewis' own "I Want A New Drug". The case was settled out of court, with both parties agreeing to keep the settlement secret. Mr. Parker sued Mr. Lewis in 2001, alleging that Mr. Lewis violated the agreement in a "VH1- Behind the Music" Episode, when he stated that Mr. Parker paid some amount to settle the case.
Lewis produced Nick Lowe's 1985 cover of "I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)". Huey Lewis and the News provided backup vocals and played on the song. 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 adding to an impressive string of 14 Top-20 Billboard Hot 100 hits and releasing two more hit albums: Small World (1988) #11 and Hard At Play (1991) #27. By the time the band released their critically-acclaimed album of cover songs Four Chords & Several Years Ago (1994) #55, their chosen lower profile and lack of promotion from new label Elektra saw their Top 40 appeal dip for good, yet they have endured as one of America's top drawing live acts and have continued to have the occasional hit on adult contemporary radio.
As well as singing lead vocals and playing harmonica with the band, Lewis also writes or co-writes many of the band's songs.
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.
The band, now in self-proclaimed semi-retirement, still plays 80 U.S. dates a year, with an occasional European tour. The average fee for Huey Lewis & The News to play a private college-sized show is around US$200,000.
On February 13, 2007, Huey was interviewed on the podcast series "Stuck in the 80s," during which he revealed that the band has written several new songs that they plan to record next year, though he states that, given how much the industry has changed since their last album, he's unsure at this point how they will sell the new material.
During a show at the California State Fair on August 21, 2007, Huey 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.
Huey has also recorded a duet version of "Workin' For A Livin'" with Garth Brooks, which was included in Brooks' 3-Disc set The Ultimate Hits, in late-2007.
Huey Lewis's real name is "Hugh Cregg" Read more on Last.fm
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