Huey Lewis contemplated taking his own life after hearing loss diagnosis

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Huey Lewis, known for ’80s hits such as “Power of Love” and “If This Is It,” has made music his life’s work, so facing a medical diagnosis that prevents him from doing that all the time was devastating — and still is.

“This has ruined everything,” Lewis said, as he pointed to his ear, during an interview this month with Whitefish Review journal. “This has absolutely ruined everything. I try not to let it get me down. In the first two months of this, I was suicidal. I can honestly share that with you. I thought, s**t, I’m just going to commit suicide. I actually contemplated my demise. You know, like pills. I figured pills were the easiest way to go. I mean, would I have? I don’t know.”

Lewis revealed in April 2018 that he was being treated for an inner-ear disorder, Ménière’s disease, which causes vertigo, ringing in the ears and hearing loss that comes and goes.

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The frontman of Huey Lewis and the News, who was still regularly touring with his band (75 shows a year!) at the time, cancelled “all future shows.” He explained that his condition kept him from hearing music well enough to sing, because the frequencies were distorted.

In his new interview, Lewis, who lives on a ranch in Montana, gave an update.

“My Ménière’s Disease is atypical in that the hearing loss is my main symptom,” he said. “But, there are always people worse off, and after all I’m still a lucky guy, and it’s important to remember that.”

These days, he often copes with his diagnosis by retreating into a “cocoon,” reading more than ever, and relying on hearing aids, which sometimes help. There are exceptions. He told the interviewers that he enjoyed a fishing trip with neighbours two days before meeting with them. (Lewis had planned to give the Whitefish Review interview by phone, but he was unable to hear during the call.)

Huey Lewis attends a 30th anniversary screening of Back To The Future in 2015 in New York City. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“We had a great day on the river and everything. I had fun,” Lewis said. “I couldn’t hear anything. But I had fun. People say, well, it doesn’t affect your golf game or it doesn’t affect your whatever… but it really does. It affects everything. And when my hearing is good, it feels so good to have good hearing. I just thank my lucky stars and just hope and pray that it stabilises, which it never does.”

Trouble hearing music has kept him away from the stage.

“This is now a year and eight months, and it’s awful. I can’t hear music,” he said. “It’s hard enough to hear speech. But music is impossible. The music is cacophony for me and now my hearing fluctuates. I can actually get better sometimes where I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can almost sing.’ And I have sung twice in the last two years when my hearing was better. And I sang one song acoustically. But I couldn’t do it for a set. And anyway, the point is moot because if I book a gig, I have to book it a month in advance. And I don’t know what’s going to happen a month from now. So that’s the hard part.”

Huey Lewis with Huey Lewis and the News performs during the 2016 Shaky Knees Festival at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in Atlanta. (Photo by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)

Lewis misses his band, but he said he doesn’t miss traveling and performing.

“I would like to do a show every now and then,” he said. “But you know, what are you going to do?”

Lewis has managed to record seven songs with his band over the past few years. They plan to drop Weather in mid-February, he said, but the single “Her Love Is Killin’ Me” is out now.

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