Huey Lewis and the News have sold the bulk of their catalog to Primary Wave Music for around $20 million, Variety reports. The deal begins with their 1980 debut LP Huey Lewis and the News and stretches through their 1994 release Four Chords & Several Years Ago. This includes all of their major hits, including “The Power of Love,” “Hip To Be Square,” “If This Is It,” and “I Want a New Drug.”
“In the 1980’s, everyone heard Huey Lewis and the News’s many smashes on radio and saw their iconic & fun videos which appeared on MTV in endless rotation,” Primary Wave Music’s David Weitzman told Variety. “Their incredibly crafted songs still made me smile, remind me of that seemingly more innocent era, and make me want to sing along at the top of your lungs. Primary Wave look forward to working with Huey to create new opportunities for his storied song catalog into the future.”
Huey Lewis and the News have released a mere three albums since 1994. Their focus over much of that time was touring, but they were forced off the road in 2018 when Lewis lost much of his hearing. It happened suddenly during a corporate gig in Dallas as he was preparing to walk onstage.
“I heard this huge noise,” he told Rolling Stone in 2020. “It sounded like warfare was going on in the other room. I yelled, ‘What is that?’ They said, ‘It’s just Pat [Green], the opening act.’ I put in my in-ear [monitors] in and couldn’t hear anything.”
He hoped things would improve once he got onstage, but they only grew worse. “I thought the bass amp had blown a speaker,” he said. “I just heard this horrible noise, and I couldn’t find pitch or even hear myself. It was an absolute nightmare. The worst thing. Just horrible.”
It was the start of a very difficult period for Lewis, who turned helplessly to expert after expert, ultimately learning he had Ménière’s disease. There are no viable treatment options. “I was suicidal,” he said about the days following the diagnosis. “There was literally a roaring tinnitus in my head. I just laid in bed. There was nothing I could do. I’d just lay in bed and contemplate my demise.”
He eventually accepted his fate and even managed to spontaneously sing “Hip to be Square” at a golf tournament in Scotland since some days he hears far better than others. But scheduling any tour would be impossible. “I’d need to book the show a month in advance,” he said, “and I never know what I’ll be like in a couple days since it fluctuates so much.”
His inability to tour drastically reduced his yearly income, though the sale of his catalog to Primary Wave should quell any financial worries for the foreseeable future. “We’re honored to welcome the music of Huey Lewis and the News to Primary Wave,” said Primary Wave Music Senior Counsel John Luneau. “Our entire team is looking forward to working with them to generate new and exciting opportunities for their iconic catalog.”