It was a long way to the top for Huey Lewis and the News. Literally. Formed from the ashes of two bands in the seventies (one had backed Elvis Costello at one point, the other was behind Van Morrison), the San Francisco groups teamed up to make an album. And even that didn’t make a splash. At the age of 30, after nearly a decade making rock music, Huey Lewis had just US$300 to his name.
Finally, with the help of producer Mutt Lange (who also produced AC/DC, The Cars and helped shaped the musical landscape of the eighties), the band had an early eighties hit with the single “Do You Believe In Love”.
After that, there was no stopping them. Whether it was “The Power of Love” (the theme song from hit film Back To The Future), “The Heart of Rock and Roll”, “I Want A New Drug” or “Hip To Be Square”, the San Francisco-based group was a worldwide radio and chart favourite. Over the course of nine studio albums, they notched nineteen Top 10 singles, sold over 30 million copies and even had an Academy Award nomination. But, looking back, Lewis still downplays it all. “Had I not had this success, I’d still be perfectly happy playing harmonica somewhere,” he told US TV interviewer John Blackstone earlier this year.
To fans, the group was the epitome of rock. Their base was rooted firmly in traditional blues and RnB with easy, sing-along melodies. In the nineties, they would even go back to the sound of yesteryear as they explored the doo-wop harmonies of the fifties and early sixties (that is, when Huey Lewis wasn’t appearing in films, which he did in Duets, co-starring alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in 2000). But to detractors, the group symbolized everything wrong with corporate, safe, album-oriented rock. Ensuing years would see sporadic studio output, continued touring, a move to Montana (for Lewis) and the ability to poke fun of it all on humorous YouTube spoofs (See this one for starters: http://youtu.be/Fk15H6PjBis).
Now, during a year in which they’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of their most popular album Sports, the nine-piece group will be appearing in Hong Kong at the 12th annual Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) ball on October 5th at the Grand Hall of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. “He’s really popular with our members who listened to him as a teenager,” says Andy Chworowsky, the evening’s MC and Co-chairman of the FCC Charity Fund. “He’s been on our list of artists to get for several years. Because he’s touring [in Japan], it was the perfect fit.” Past musical acts at the ball have included the Beach Boys, Blondie, INXS, the Doobie Brothers and Sergio Mendes.
The ball is an annual highlight on the Hong Kong social calendar due to its unique combination of glamour, free-flowing drinks, four course dinner, auction and raffle draw. This year’s draw and live auction will feature airline tickets, luxury hotel stays, a custom made Harley Davidson, an astronaut training experience at the Kennedy Space Center and much more. “There are plenty of guitars signed by many rock legends, basketballs signed by NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and one of the year’s biggest draws will surely be a locker room door from Muhammad Ali’s training camp with his pencilled notes in it,” says Chworowsky.
All proceeds from the event will support Po Leung Kuk, which is home to some of Hong Kong’s neediest children. Since launching the FCC Scholarship Fund over a decade ago, the fund has awarded over 100 scholarships and has also supported learning centers, child development and language training programs. To date, the FCC Annual Charity Ball has raised more than HK$53 million. “When we started raising money, we wanted the ball to be more meaningful than just a ball,” says Chworowsky. “The Po Leung Kuk was a natural fit. Over 300 clients are served there and in the last several years we’ve also opened two community and some of the successful alumni have formed their own scholarships.”
Tickets for this year’s ball are priced at HK$2,388, which includes pre-dinner cocktails, four-course gourmet dinner with wine and the opportunity to see Huey Lewis and the News. To reserve tickets, contact the FCC at 852-2521-1511. For donations, contact Ms. Mireya Garcia. For more information, please visit http://www.fcchkcharityfund.com and http://www.poleungkuk.com.org.hk.
Huey Lewis and the News will also be playing in Tokyo on October 7th and 8th, as well as Osaka on October 10th.