ln an interview with Montana’s Whitefish Review last month, rocker Huey Lewis revealed that the loss of his hearing had made him consider taking fatal drug overdose, saying, “This has absolutely ruined everything.” But while the singer can no longer perform due to hearing issues trigged by Meniere’s disease, he’s got a new album out — and a resilient spirit.
"The heart of rock & roll has been ablated, but it's still breathing!" the 69-year-old star proclaimed in a new interview on CBS Sunday Morning on Jan. 26.
Weather, the latest from Huey Lewis and the News, has taken some 20 years to complete but features just seven songs.
“When the singer can't sing, it's a problem,” cracked bandmate Johnny Colla.
The album — expected to be the final one put out by the group, known for ‘80s rock hits like “Power of Love” and “I Want a New Drug” — comes two years after Lewis and his bandmates were forced to cancel their 2018 tour following the gravely-voiced singer’s diagnosis of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder which can affect balance and hearing. It can cause sounds to appear distorted, which mean Lewis can’t accurately hear what he’s singing or playing or stay in tune with his band.
“I went onstage, and it was horrible,” he recalled of a Dallas gig in January 2018, when his symptoms came to a head. “It was just unbelievable. Couldn't hear anything. Sang out of tune. Had the worst night of my life."
“He was a whole step flat,” added bandmate Bill Gibson. “It was clear that he could not get the pitch of the song. So, I remember looking at our bass player, John Pierce. We immediately looked at each other and went, 'Uh oh.'"
Losing his hearing has brought on some dark days for the musician, who explained that hearing aids can’t remedy the issue because of the distortion.
"Right now I'm having a good day; yesterday was a really bad day," Lewis said. "And now I'm having a good day today. But could I play a show where there'd be a loud PA? Probably not, 'cause a bass part which would normally sound like [imitates bass chords] to me sounds like [makes very distorted noises]. When it occurs in music, it's like cacophony for me. I can't hear anything.
“The hard part for me, I do miss playing a show now and then,” he added. “And I miss the guys. I miss the camaraderie, you know?"
Still, the band is cautiously optimistic, continuing to meet on the off-chance that Lewis regains his ability to find pitch — and with it, his rock ‘n’ roll groove.
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