Huey Lewis and the News performing "The Heart of Rock & Roll"

Friday July 16, 2021’s Smile of the Day: First x-Ray of Arterial Circulation

On this Day:

In 1936, the 1st x-ray photo of arterial circulation was taken in Rochester, NY.  Well, this may be but with a bit of an examination, we can see that this was not the first x-ray of the human heart.

Werner Theodor Otto Forßmann (Forssmann in English; 29 August 1904 – 1 June 1979) was a physician from Germany who shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Medicine (with Andre Frederic Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards) for developing a procedure that allowed cardiac catheterization. In 1929, he put himself under local anesthesia and inserted a catheter into a vein of his arm. Not knowing if the catheter might pierce a vein, he put his life at risk. Forssmann was nevertheless successful; he safely passed the catheter into his heart.

Forssmann was born in Berlin on 29 August 1904. Upon graduating from Askanisches Gymnasium, he entered the University of Berlin to study medicine, passing the State Examination in 1929.

He hypothesized that a catheter could be inserted directly into the heart, for such applications as directly delivering drugs, injecting radiopaque dyes, or measuring blood pressure. The fear at the time was that such an intrusion into the heart would be fatal. To prove his point, he decided to try the experiment on himself.

In 1929, while working in Eberswalde, he performed the first human cardiac catheterization. He ignored his department chief and persuaded the operating-room nurse in charge of the sterile supplies, Gerda Ditzen, to assist him. She agreed, but only on the promise that he would do it on her rather than on himself. However, Forssmann tricked her by restraining her to the operating table and pretending to locally anaesthetise and cut her arm whilst actually doing it on himself. He anesthetized his own lower arm in the cubital region and inserted a urinary catheter into his antecubital vein, threading it partly along before releasing Ditzen (who at this point realised the catheter was not in her arm) and telling her to call the X-ray department. They walked some distance to the X-ray department on the floor below where under the guidance of a fluoroscope he advanced the catheter the full 60 cm into his right ventricular cavity. This was then recorded on X-Ray film showing the catheter lying in his right atrium.

The head clinician at Eberswalde, although initially very annoyed, recognized Werner’s discovery when shown the X-rays; he allowed Forssmann to carry out another catheterization on a terminally ill woman whose condition improved after being given drugs in this way. An unpaid position was created for Forssmann at the Berliner Charité Hospital, working under Ferdinand Sauerbruch, although once Sauerbruch saw his paper, he was dismissed for continuing without his approval. Sauerbruch commented, “You certainly can’t begin surgery in that manner”. Facing such disciplinary action for self-experimentation, he was initially forced to leave the Charité, but was later reinstated until again being forced to leave in 1932 for not meeting scientific expectations. His surgical skills were noted, however, and he was recommended to another hospital where he worked for a while before leaving in 1933 after marrying Dr. Elsbet Engel, a specialist in urology there. Finding it difficult to get a job with his reputation, he quit cardiology and took up urology. He then went on to study urology under Karl Heusch at the Rudolf Virchow Hospital in Berlin. Later, he was appointed Chief of the Surgical Clinic at both the City Hospital at Dresden-Friedrichstadt and the Robert Koch Hospital [de] in Berlin.

From 1932 to 1945, he was a member of the Nazi Party. At the start of World War II, he became a medical officer. In the course of his service, he rose to the rank of Major, until he was captured and put into a U.S. POW camp. Upon his release in 1945, he worked as a lumberjack and then as a country medic in the Black Forest with his wife. In 1950, he began practice as a urologist in Bad Kreuznach.

During the time of his imprisonment, his paper was read by André Frédéric Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards. They developed ways of applying his technique to heart disease diagnosis and research. In 1954, he was given the Leibniz Medal of the German Academy of Sciences. In 1956, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Cournand, Richards, and Forßmann.

After winning the Nobel Prize, he was given the position of Honorary Professor of Surgery and Urology at the University of Mainz. In 1961, he became an honorary professor at the National University of Córdoba. In 1962, he became a member of the Executive Board of the German Society of Surgery. He also became a member of the American College of Chest Physicians, honorary member of the Swedish Society of Cardiology, the German Society of Urology, and the German Child Welfare Association.

He and Elsbet had six children: Klaus Forßmann in 1934, Knut Forßmann in 1936, Jörg Forßmann in 1938, Wolf Forßmann in 1939 (who was first to isolate the atrial natriuretic peptide), Bernd Forßmann in 1940 (who helped develop the first clinical lithotriptor), and Renate Forßmann in 1943.

He died in Schopfheim, Germany of heart failure on 1 June 1979. His wife died in 1993 (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

My mom was a radiologist. She met my dad one day when he came in for a heart x-ray. I wonder what she saw in him…

Second, a Song:

Huey Lewis and the News is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California. They had a run of hit singles during the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually achieving 19 top ten singles across the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and Mainstream Rock charts.

Their most successful album, Sports, was released in 1983. The album, along with its videos being featured on MTV, catapulted the group to worldwide fame. Their popularity expanded when the song “The Power of Love” was featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future. “The Power of Love” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

In 1978, singer/harmonica player Huey Lewis joined keyboardist Sean Hopper, drummer Bill Gibson, saxophonist/rhythm guitarist Johnny Colla, and bassist Mario Cipollina, to form a new group, Huey Lewis & The American Express.

Although they played gigs under this name, in 1979, they recorded and released a single simply as “American Express.” The single, “Exodisco” (a disco version of the theme from the film Exodus) was largely ignored. The B-side of this record, “Kick Back,” was a song that had previously been performed live by Lewis and his former band, Clover. In 1979, the band was joined by lead guitarist Chris Hayes and moved to Chrysalis Records, which occurred after their demo tape was heard by Pablo Cruise manager Bob Brown, who helped them land a record deal with the label. Chrysalis did not like the name American Express, fearing trademark infringement charges from the credit card company, so the band changed their name.

Later in 1980, the band released their first studio album, a self-titled LP, Huey Lewis and the News. It went largely unnoticed. In 1982, the band released their second studio album, the self-produced Picture This. The album turned gold, fueled by the breakout success of the hit single “Do You Believe in Love,” written by former Clover producer “Mutt” Lange. Largely because of the single, the album remained on the Billboard 200 album chart for 35 weeks and peaked at No. 13. The follow-up singles from Picture This, “Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do” and “Workin’ for a Livin'”, followed, with limited success.

Due to record label delays on the release of their third studio album, Sports, Huey Lewis and the News was back to square one in late 1983, touring small clubs in a bus to promote the record (eventually known as the “Workin’ for a Livin'” tour). The new album initially hit number six in the U.S. when first released. However, Sports slowly became a number-one hit in 1984, and went multi-platinum in 1985, thanks to the band’s frequent touring and a series of videos that received heavy MTV airplay. Four singles from the album reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: “Heart and Soul” reached number eight, while “I Want a New Drug,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” and “If This Is It” all reached number six. The album has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.

At the beginning of 1985, the band participated in the all-star USA for Africa charity single “We Are the World,” with Lewis taking a solo vocal. The song topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. They were to play the Philadelphia leg of the Live Aid benefit concert that July, but pulled out two weeks before the concert over concerns that the money raised by the single and other efforts had not been spent to benefit Ethiopian famine victims, earning them vociferous criticism from USA for Africa organizer Harry Belafonte. A year later a Spin article suggested that much of the money raised from the single and concert had been misspent.

Their song “The Power of Love” was a number-one U.S. hit and featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future, for which they also recorded the song, “Back in Time.” Lewis has a cameo appearance in the film as a faculty member who rejects Marty McFly’s band’s audition for the school’s “Battle of the Bands” contest. As an inside joke, the piece the band plays is an instrumental hard rock version of “The Power of Love” (Lewis’s response: “Hold it, fellas … I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud”). “The Power of Love” was nominated for an Academy Award.

Following the success of “The Power of Love” and Back to the Future, Huey Lewis and the News released their fourth studio album, Fore!, in 1986. Fore! followed the success of Sports and reached number-one on the Billboard 200. The album spawned the number-one singles, “Stuck with You” and “Jacob’s Ladder,” as well as the mainstream rock hit “Hip to Be Square.” In all, the album had five top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified triple platinum.

The band continued to tour throughout 1987, and released Small World in 1988. After the previous two multi-platinum albums, Small World was considered “noticeably weaker,” peaking at number 11 and only going platinum. The album had one top-ten single, “Perfect World,” which reached number three on the pop chart.

At the end of the Small World tour in 1989, the band took a break from recording and heavy touring, and parted ways with Chrysalis Records. In 1991, they released Hard at Play on the EMI label in the USA and Chrysalis in the UK, which went back to the R&B/rock sound of their earlier albums, and released the hit singles “Couple Days Off” (number 11) and “It Hit Me Like a Hammer” (number 21). The album was certified Gold (eventually hitting the one million sales mark) and the band headlined another world tour in support of the release, which would be their last album of new material for a decade.

The band once again changed labels, this time signing with Elektra Records, releasing a cover album in 1994 called Four Chords & Several Years Ago, featuring doo-wop and rock songs from the 1950s and 1960s. The album charted on the Billboard 200 and had two hits on adult contemporary radio.

In early 1996, the band released the greatest hits album Time Flies which focused primarily on the releases from Picture This, Sports, and Fore!, and included four new tracks.

“The Heart of Rock & Roll” is a song performed by Huey Lewis and the News, released as the third single from their 1983 album Sports in 1984. The single peaked at number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The song was inspired by a gig the band played in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland, at the time was known for its rock scene, but the band remained defiant of this claim believing their home town of San Francisco had the better scene. After playing the show Lewis relented, with initially the title phrase being “The heart of rock and roll is in Cleveland”, based on a comment Lewis made to the band, but he changed it to “The heart of rock and roll is still beating”. According to him the message of the song is “There’s real rock and roll in other places than LA or New York.

The music video was recorded in March 1984 featuring skits with the band as well as footage of concerts filmed in New York City and Los Angeles.

At the first annual MTV Video Music Awards, which aired on September 14, 1984, the song was nominated for “Best Group Video”, losing to ZZ Top’s “Legs”. The song was also nominated for Record of the Year at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards, losing to Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. The group performed the song at the ceremony (per Wikipedia).

Here are Huey Lewis and the News performing “The Heart of Rock & Roll”. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” – Frank Morgan


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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