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 U.K.’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.
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.’ . 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 & the News and the band’s eponymous debut was released later that year to little attention.
Picture This, 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’ (number eight, 1983), ‘I Want a New Drug’ (number six, 1984), ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’ (number six, 1984) and ‘If This Is It’ (number six, 1984) all became Top Ten 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 & 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’ (number one, 1986), ‘Hip to Be Square’ (number three, 1986), ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ (number one, 1987), ‘I Know What I Like’ (number nine, 1987), and ‘Doing It All for My Baby’ (number six, 1987).