Huey Lewis on Hearing Loss: ‘There is Hope’

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Huey Lewis (Photo: Deanne Fitzmaurice; used with permission)

Huey Lewis, who has suffered from hearing loss for over five years that has prevented him from singing, remains hopeful that his health issues will one day be resolved. In an interview published on Sept. 12, 2023, the beloved singer and co-writer of such classic rock favorites as “The Power of Love” and “If This Is It,” said, “I think there is [hope].”

Lewis has been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, which causes sounds that he hears to be severely distorted. “I’m very deaf,” he told The Messenger, “and I’m on the verge of maybe needing a cochlear implant. I don’t want to do that because the hearing can change. Meniere’s can change it and once you go cochlear, you can’t go back. I’m kind of hoping for that.”

In the meantime, as the publication notes, although Lewis can’t sing, perform or even listen to music, his hearing aids allow him to have conversations without any problems. His hope comes from stories of others who share a similar diagnosis. “I know of one guy who was a pilot and he had Meniere’s so he had to quit flying airplanes because he worried about the vertigo mainly,” he said. “Six years later, his hearing returned.” It wasn’t until October 16 that Lewis shared the interview on his Facebook page.

A few weeks ahead of the February 14, 2020, release of the first new album of original songs in nearly two decades from Huey Lewis and the News, the singer talked about the hearing loss that has affected him since 2018.

In an interview that aired on CBS Sunday Morning a few weeks earlier on Jan. 26, Lewis said, “Right now, I’m having a good day. Yesterday was a really bad day.”

He told CBS’ John Blackstone of the precise moment when it first made its impact.

“Just before a gig in Dallas, Texas, on January 27, 2018,” he says, “I went onstage and it was horrible. Couldn’t hear anything. Sang out of tune. Had the worst night of my life.”

Lewis was born on July 5, 1950. “I miss the guys and the camaraderie. Could I play a show where there’d be a loud PA,” he asked the CBS Sunday Morning interviewer. “Probably not.”

Watch the CBS Sunday Morning interview with Lewis

The Weather album followed the April 2018 revelation that Lewis had cancelled all performances because he had lost most of his hearing. In a May 7, 2018, interview with NBC’s The Today Show, Lewis said, “I can’t hear music. I can do everything but what I love to do the most.”

In an interview published behind a paywall on Feb. 7, 2019, with the San Francisco Chronicle, Lewis spoke in detail about the ups and downs of the past year.

“For the first two months I was like suicidal,” he told the paper. “Really, it can drive you absolutely crazy. After two months of wanting to blow my brains out and not being able to hear anything, I had to figure something out. So creatively, I got involved in our musical.”

He’s referring to The Heart of Rock & Roll, a musical comedy centered around his band’s hits. Although he didn’t create it, he’s involved and wrote a new song for it. It enjoyed a solid out-of-town tryout in San Diego and it will open on Broadway in April 2024.

In his original disclosure of his hearing issues on April 13, 2018, Lewis wrote to his fans, “Although I can still hear a little, one on one, and on the phone, I can’t hear music well enough to sing. The lower frequencies distort violently making it impossible to find pitch. I’ve been to the House Ear Institute, the Stanford Ear Institute, and the Mayo Clinic, hoping to find an answer. The doctors believe I have Meniere’s disease and have agreed that I can’t perform until I improve.”

However, in October 2018, in news that was not widely picked up, Best Classic Bands reported that Lewis had sung in public for the first time in eight months, when he performed his hit, “Hip to Be Square.” Read our story here.

“Boom, I sang it, it was great, I could hear everything!” he told the Chronicle. “Next day, my hearing’s still good. It’s fantastic. Huey’s back! I’m going to sing again!

“[Then] my hearing goes to s— again.”

At the time, Lewis said, “I haven’t given up. I have not given up.” That performance, though, was his last, for now.

With the back-to-back smash success of the 7x Platinum-certified Sports and 3x Platinum Fore!, followed by the Platinum-certified Small World, the group has written and performed such crowd-pleasing classic rock hits as “Heart of Rock & Roll,” “Stuck With You,” “I Want a New Drug,” “If This Is It,” “Hip to Be Square,” “Do You Believe In Love” and “Workin’ for a Livin’.”

The group also wrote and performed “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” for the hit film Back to the Future. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, “The Power of Love” went on to reach #1 and was a worldwide smash.

Related: Our Album Rewind of Sports

Huey Lewis and the News (Photo: Deanne Fitzmaurice; used with permission)

Huey Lewis and the News are Lewis (vocals and harmonica), Johnny Colla (saxophone, guitar and vocals), Bill Gibson (drums, percussion and vocals), Sean Hopper (keyboards and vocals), Stef Burns (guitars and vocals) and John Pierce (bass). Their live show featured their long-time horn section of San Francisco bay area musicians including Rob Sudduth (tenor saxophone), Marvin McFadden (trumpet), and Johnnie Bamont (baritone saxophone).

The Weather album, originally scheduled for 2019, was released by BMG. It features the group’s first new, original songs since 2001’s Plan B album, plus one cover (of the classic Eugene Church soul burner “Pretty Girls Everywhere”). It was produced in-house by Lewis and the band, just like every record they’ve made since the early 1980s.

The day before its release, Lewis introduced the video for “Her Love is Killin’ Me,” on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. The clip features plenty of guest stars.

Lewis called Weather “some of the band’s best work. Songs evoke the superlative eras of Sports and Fore! (one of the small number of albums to ever generate five or more Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100), and extend to blues shuffles, classic R&B, and even a hint of country twang.”

Huey Lewis and The News recorded Weather at their own Troutfarm Studio in Marin County, Calif., and brought in the mixing expertise of studio legend Bob Clearmountain. Clearmountain and The News have had a long-running relationship, and he is credited with mixing many of the band’s hits.

As Lewis said when the album was released, ‘You’ve got to look on the bright side and stay creative. Even if I never sing again, things could always be worse. After all, I’m deaf, not dead.'”

Best Classic Bands Staff

6 Comments so far

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  1. Bluzrider
    #1 Bluzrider 27 September, 2019, 07:19

    Great tune Huey, I can relate, “her love is killing me” too

    Reply this comment
  2. Lorax
    #2 Lorax 7 December, 2019, 08:33

    I’m mostly deaf but music brings me happiness and makes me dance! Keep singing, Huey, so I can keep dancing! Love ALL your music!! Oxox
    From, Adelanto, Ca !!

    Reply this comment
  3. SissyK
    #3 SissyK 25 February, 2020, 01:33

    OMG, you are great 100% Living it up every day! positive feelings =])

    Reply this comment
  4. Corky
    #4 Corky 18 October, 2023, 07:19

    What a joy this man & his band’s music have brought to fans for decades now.

    Bless you sir, hope the ear technology is able to help you in the near future & you are able to return to performing again.

    Even if it’s acoustic, whatever you’re able to do, follow your heart & spirit.

    Corky in KC

    Reply this comment
  5. WheelinGreg
    #5 WheelinGreg 18 October, 2023, 09:54

    Best of luck! Miss you and the guys performing in AC. Used to catch you all the time down there. Love you and your music. Keep the faith!

    Reply this comment
  6. Maxwell
    #6 Maxwell 18 October, 2023, 13:36

    If you’re any kind of a musician and have played for any length of time you are deaf. it’s the nature of the business. that’s why all the good bar bands are so loud. They’re all deaf !!!

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