Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Huey Lewis and the Nobleman

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Huey Lewis and the News’s breakthrough album Sports, whose 42 minutes of music established them as the band of my youth…a title that still stands even if the youth does not.

Of the nine songs on the album, five were released as singles and five videos were shot—but, strangely, the fives were not exact overlaps. (“Heart and Soul,” “I Want a New Drug,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” “If This Is It,” and “Walking on a Thin Line” were the singles; no video that I know of was shot for “Walking” and one was shot for “Bad Is Bad.”)

If you’ve read my series “The Girl in the Video,” you’ve seen this photo:

Also in high school, I replaced the News with the heads of my best friends on the cover of the single to my favorite Huey song:

AKA Huey Lewis and the Jews.

So it was an honor 30 years in the making to be able to meet Huey Lewis and some of the News after a concert in Virginia on 8/13/13.

The set started with the entire Sports album, played in order…but coolly, Huey didn’t call attention to this until he was about to “flip over the record” and start side B. (And shameful for any superfan, I hadn’t noticed on my own.) They went on to play an atypical assortment of songs—none from Fore!, Small World, or Hard at Play. The encore consisted of “The Power of Love,” Do you Believe in Love,” and “Workin’ for a Livin.’”

At least 30 people had been given backstage passes—more than I was expecting but not so many as to limit access. 

The first insider I met was band manager Lol Halsey. He was surprised when I asked to get a picture with the manager—but he’s not just the manager.

Up till that point I knew Lol only as the British guy shown in fisheye lens in the humor bit that opened the “Stuck With You” video.

In other words, Huey Lewis and the News royalty.

He was as nice as can be, welcoming to and focused on my friend Christian and me. 

Lol was the one who called over Huey himself, introducing me as the writer who interviewed the Sports video girls, to which Huey said, “Oh, yeah—Signy.” (Also Janet and Sandra.)

We shook hands. We posed. And that was about it. But that was enough. (Until next time.)

I also had the honor of meeting two other principals from the band, drummer Bill Gibson and keyboardist Sean Hopper. Both were completely genuine.

 me and Bill Gibson

 me and Sean Hopper

Already prepping my next round of “Girl in the Video,” I’d planned to ask any band member I could if he remembered the name of the woman who appeared in the 1982 video for “Do You Believe in Love.” Amid the excitement, I almost didn’t remember to do so, but am relieved I did with Bill, because he responded with the name immediately. (I then asked him which band member has the best memory, and he said “me,” so I am doubly relieved.)

I instantly remembered that I had heard her name before…but pre-Internet, because a google on this (even a “fully loaded” search with the name of the video and her name) turns up literally nothing. So it is that rare example (rare to me, anyway) of pop culture knowledge that publicly exists yet is not yet documented online.

I also asked Bill if anyone in the band is in regular touch with the two original members who are no longer in the News, Chris Hayes and Mario Cipollina. He said no. I asked if there was any bad blood in connection with their departures and he said yes, but not with him.

I asked if either had been invited to participate in the 30th anniversary festivities and he said no because it wouldn’t be fair to the other band members, some of whom have now been with the News longer than Chris and/or Mario.

Lastly, I asked if they still play a personal favorite, “The Boys Are Back in Town,” in concert and he said they haven’t for a while.

Sean Hopper was equally fun to talk with. He said he read all my “Girl in the Video” interviews and even looked up more images of the “Addicted to Love” women! That was wild—one ‘80s icon curious about another. Of course they’re only human, too, but humans in a different orbit than the one I usually travel.

Johnny Colla was the only original band member who didn’t come backstage—and the only one who had emailed me back personally beforehand. (I’d contacted him through his site while researching the “Girl in the Video” series, and then to announce it.) I was bummed and wrote him that, to which he kindly responded. His consolation was to offer to send me a CD. But the real consolation was that he signed his email “Pals.”

Thanks again to the band for being so gracious to a longtime fan. And special thanks to Nina at Hulex for arranging the backstage passes.

When the band comes around again, I can already foresee telling her, “I Want a New Pass.”

1/27/23 addendum: I visited the bar where the photo on the iconic Sports album cover was taken.


hobbyfan said...

Oh, snap! "Hip to be Square" is my favorite Huey Lewis song, too!

Dex said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing time!

Sports was definitely one of those decade defining albums for me.

Jason said...

Awesome piece, and what a great honor to meet these guys! I just saw them a month or so ago, and it sounds like I saw the same show you did (same setlist, I mean). I'm totally jealous of you, you know, even as I live vicariously through you... :)

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thanks all! Jason, your time may come!

syndicate.001 said...


I was curious to know if you may know who the hot blonde was in the huey lewis and the news music video, "the heart of rock & roll?".... please let me know if you have... [or even have not]


Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

syndicate.001 - sorry, I did not look for her...