Today’s front man came to prominence in the 1980s with such monster hits as “I Want a New Drug,” “The Power of Love,” and “Hip to be Square,” among so many others. But before that he was really living the life of a musical Forrest Gump: As a kid his mom took in Billy Roberts as a boarder: he was the guy who wrote the Jimi Hendrix song “Hey Joe,” and he lived with today’s singer and his mom and taught the boy how to play harmonica.
His dad was a doctor by profession, but his dad’s passion was music. He was a drummer and a piano player. He recalls, “...he would just blast [music]. I mean, loud. And then he’d put us on the drums and he goes, “You’ve got to learn time.” So it started right there. And then when my parents split up, my dad got me guitar lessons; Visitation rights and guitar lessons was his day. And I took guitar lessons…[and went] away to prep school. And then one thing led to another.
He graduated from prep school at 16 and was a year early because he’d skipped second grade. He recalls, “...I’d been accepted to Cornell, and I was going to play baseball. [my dad] was like, “There’s only one more thing I want you to do.” I said, “What’s that?” He says, “Don’t go to college. Take a year off and bum around Europe.” I said, “Really?” He says, “Yeah.” So he made me do it. I took my harmonicas, hitchhiked across the country.
Fast forward to his band, The News and their first album ‘Sports’. He realized they needed a hit and fast, “Heart and Soul was the first single off our Sports album. And that was the song we needed to be a hit...And then the next song we released was [Today’s song] and that thing went as a hit. And I’m like, if [that’s] a hit, we’ve got a lot of hits. It went top 10. Then came “Want a New Drug,” and then “If This is It,” and like that.
Today’s singer says he is not a Deadhead. But he has seen The Grateful Dead at least 12 or 20 times. He even sat in with them a couple times.
When was that, you ask? He says, “In Oregon, first time. Let’s see. In Eugene. And they were really sweet. Jerry Garcia was a very sweet guy, and super smart, man. Super smart. And he was really the spokesman for the whole generation.
“They asked me to sit in. I was up there because Ken Kesey had written a play, and he wanted me to play a part in this play...And I’m a huge Ken Kesey fan. It [coincided] with the Dead’s concert...So I was up there. And now, so the Dead said, “Hey, you want to sit in?” I said, “Sure...So, it was huge. There’s 50,000 people out there. So yeah, no problem.”
And then they said, “Here.” They put these in my ears, these two. I said, “What’s that?” They said, “These are your monitors. You’re going to hear me over it.” I said, “I am? That changed the way I recorded songs.”
Huey Lewis and The News...The Heart of Rock and Roll...I Know That Song!
And CONGRATS to Terry Rutherford of Beaverton. She guessed the theme of the week which was songs with "Rock" in the title. Terry scored free lunch at Jersey Mikes, a sub above! Next week we are off for a few days but Theme Week will return on Monday August 2.