Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
|Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers|
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performing live in Indianapolis June 23, 2006
|Origin||Gainesville, Florida, United States|
|Genres||Rock, heartland rock, blues rock, hard rock|
|Labels||Shelter, Backstreet, MCA, Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||Mudcrutch, Traveling Wilburys, Blue Stingrays, Jeff Lynne, Stevie Nicks|
Tom Petty |
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. In 1976, the band's original lineup was Tom Petty as the lead singer and guitar player, Mike Campbell as the lead guitarist, Ron Blair on bass, Stan Lynch on drums, and Benmont Tench on keyboards. The band has largely maintained this lineup, with a few exceptions. In 1981, Blair, who was tired of the touring lifestyle, left the band. Blair's replacement, Howie Epstein, was with the band for the next twenty years. Scott Thurston joined the band as a multi-instrumentalist, mostly rhythm guitar and second keyboards, in 1991. Blair returned to the Heartbreakers in 2002, the year before Epstein's death. In 1994, Steve Ferrone replaced Lynch.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were on the forefront of the heartland rock movement, alongside artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger, which arose in the late 1970s and 1980s. The genre eschews the synthesizer-based music and fashion elements being popularized in the 1980s, such as synthpop and New Romanticism in favor of a straightforward classic rock sound and lyrics based on relatable, blue collar issues. Petty and the Heartbreakers are known for hit singles such as "American Girl", "Breakdown", "The Waiting", "Learning to Fly", "Refugee" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance". While the heartland rock movement fizzled in the 1990s, the band remained active and popular. They still tour regularly and continue to record albums. Their most recent, Hypnotic Eye, was released on July 25, 2014. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling bands of all time.
Although most of their material is produced and performed under the name "The Heartbreakers", Petty has released three solo albums, the most successful being 1989's Full Moon Fever. In these releases, members of the band contributed as studio musicians.
Petty's early bands included the Sundowners, the Epics, and Mudcrutch, which consisted of future Heartbreakers members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. In 1974, Mudcrutch signed with Shelter Records and re-located to Los Angeles, California. The band released one single, "Depot Street," in 1975, which failed to chart, and the group disbanded. In December 1975 "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" formed. The Heartbreakers began their recording career with a self-titled album, released through the aforementioned Shelter label. Initially, the Heartbreakers did not gain much traction in America, although they achieved success in the UK playing "Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll" on Top of the Pops. Early singles included "Breakdown" and "American Girl". "Breakdown" was re-released in the USA and became a Top 40 hit in 1978, after word filtered back to the States that the band was creating a firestorm in the UK.
Their 1978 second album, You're Gonna Get It!, marked the band's first gold album, and featured the singles "I Need to Know" and "Listen To Her Heart". In 1979, the band was dragged into a legal dispute when ABC Records, Shelter's distributor, was sold to MCA Records.
Petty refused to be transferred to another record label. He held fast to his principles, which led to his filing for bankruptcy as a tactic against MCA.
In 1979, after their legal dispute was settled, the Heartbreakers released their third album Damn the Torpedoes through MCA's Backstreet label. The album rapidly went platinum. It included "Don't Do Me Like That" (#10 U.S., the group's first Top Ten single) and "Refugee" (#15 U.S.), their U.S. breakthrough singles.
Though he was already extremely successful, Petty ran into record company trouble again when he and the Heartbreakers prepared to release Hard Promises (1981), the follow-up album to Damn the Torpedoes. MCA wanted to release the record at the list price of $9.98, which was considered a high price for a record album at the time. This so-called "superstar pricing" was $1.00 more than the usual list price of $8.98. Petty voiced his objections to the price hike in the press, and the issue became a popular cause among music fans. Non-delivery of the album or naming it Eight Ninety-Eight were considered, but eventually MCA decided against the price increase. The album became a Top Ten hit, going platinum and spawning the hit single "The Waiting" (#19 U.S.). The album also included the duet "Insider", with Stevie Nicks.
On their fifth album, Long After Dark (1982), bass player Ron Blair was replaced by Howie Epstein (formerly of Del Shannon's backing band), giving the Heartbreakers their line-up until 1991. Long After Dark features the hits "You Got Lucky" (U.S. #20) and "Change of Heart" (U.S. #21), and was to feature a track called "Keeping Me Alive", but producer Jimmy Iovine vetoed it from the album. Petty has expressed that he feels the album would have turned out better if the song had been included on the album.
On the next album, Southern Accents (1985), the Heartbreakers picked up where they had left off. The recording was not without problems; Petty became frustrated during the mixing process and broke his left hand when punching a wall. The album includes the psychedelic-sounding hit single "Don't Come Around Here No More" (#13 U.S.), which was produced by and co-written with Dave Stewart. The video for the single, which starred Stewart, featured Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter, mocking and chasing Alice from the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, then cutting and eating her as if she were a cake. This caused minor controversy after it was criticized by feminist groups, but the video did win an MTV Video Music Award.
A successful concert tour led to the live album Pack Up the Plantation: Live! (1985). The band's live capabilities were also showcased when Bob Dylan invited the Heartbreakers to join him on his True Confessions Tour through Australia, Japan and the U.S. (1986) and Europe (1987). Petty praised Dylan, saying "I don't think there is anyone we admire more."
Also in 1987, the group released Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), a studio album made to sound like a live recording, using a technique they borrowed from Dylan. It includes "Jammin' Me" (#18 U.S.), which Petty wrote with Dylan and Campbell. Dylan recorded a version of the Petty composition, "Got My Mind Made Up", on his album Knocked Out Loaded.
In 1991, the band released Into the Great Wide Open, produced by Jeff Lynne who had worked with Petty in Traveling Wilburys. Songs included the title track itself and "Learning to Fly". Multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston joined the band as of the tour for the album.
In 1994 Lynch left the band and was temporarily replaced by Dave Grohl before being permanently replaced by Steve Ferrone. Ferrone had worked with Petty, Campbell, Tench, and Epstein on Petty's solo album, Wildflowers. At this time, the band served as backing band on Unchained by Johnny Cash with producer Rick Rubin.
In 1995, a six-CD box-set entitled Playback was released. Approximately half of the tracks were previously available on albums, and the rest were B-sides, demos and live tracks. Two notable tracks are a "solo" version of Tom's 1981 duet with Stevie Nicks, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around", and the song "Waiting For Tonight", which features vocals from The Bangles. The latter song also appeared on the two-CD anthology released in 2000, Anthology: Through the Years.
In 1996, Petty "reunited" with the Heartbreakers and released a soundtrack to the movie She's the One starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston (see Songs and Music from "She's the One"). Three songs charted from this album; these were "Walls (Circus)" (featuring Lindsey Buckingham); "Climb that Hill"; and a song written by Lucinda Williams, "Change the Locks". The album also included a cover of a song by Beck, "Asshole".
In 1999, Petty and the Heartbreakers released the album Echo with producer Rick Rubin at the helm. The album reached number 10 in the U.S. album charts and featured, amongst other singles, "Room at the Top".
In 2002, the group released The Last DJ. Many of the tracks' lyrics contain stinging attacks on the music industry and major record companies. The album reached number 9 in the U.S. charts. Ron Blair played on two of the tracks. He also replaced the man who had previously been his replacement, Howie Epstein on the band's 2002 tour as a result of Epstein's deepening personal problems and drug abuse. Epstein died in 2003 at the age of 48. Tench described him as "the coolest guy in the band."
2006 to present
In the band's thirtieth anniversary year, 2006, they headlined the fifth annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. In addition to Bonnaroo, Petty was on tour throughout the summer of 2006. The tour started in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 9 and ended in Randall's Island, Manhattan, New York on August 19. Stops included major cities such as New York, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Denver. Supporting acts during the tour included Pearl Jam, The Allman Brothers Band, and Trey Anastasio. Additionally, Stevie Nicks joined the band onstage during the first eight concerts as well as subsequent second leg dates to perform various songs from the Heartbreakers' vast catalog. For the Highway Companion Tour they offered a Highway Companion's Club which allowed fans to receive priority seating, discounts at the Tom Petty Store, a complimentary CD of Highway Companion and a personalized email address.
On September 21, 2006, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received the keys to the city of Gainesville, Florida, where he and his bandmates either lived or grew up. Petty quipped, when questioned about the key he received from Gainesville's mayor, "It's a lot nicer than the one we got in Chicago."
From July 2006 until 2007, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio featured an exhibit of Tom Petty items. Much of the content was donated by Petty himself from a visit to his home by some of the Rock Hall curatorial staff.
In 2008, the Heartbreakers were also featured as the Super Bowl XLII Halftime Show. In April that year, the members of Petty's prior band, Mudcrutch, including Heartbreakers Petty, Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, along with Randall Marsh and Tom Leadon, released a Mudcrutch album. In late 2008, Mudcrutch released a live EP.
The band released Hypnotic Eye on July 29, 2014, and Nobody's Children digitally in 2015
- In 1985, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers participated in the world-spanning charity rock concert Live Aid.
- In 1986, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released a live record, Pack Up the Plantation: Live!
- In 1992, the band played three songs (including one backing Roger McGuinn) at Madison Square Garden to honor the 30th anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan's first record. The three songs were released on The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration.
- They also played at the 2001 America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert.
- In 2002, the band played at Concert for George honoring George Harrison, who had died the previous year.
- In 2006, the band returned to their home town and celebrated their anniversary with a collection of popular songs.
- In 2012 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers headlined Friday night at the Isle of Wight Festival.
In 2008 they headlined the super bowl halftime show.
Petty solo albums
Petty has released critically acclaimed solo albums, the first of which was 1989's Full Moon Fever which included his signature tune, "Free Fallin'", as well as "I Won't Back Down", later covered by Johnny Cash, and "Runnin' Down a Dream" and Gene Clark's Byrds classic "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" - the album's only cover song.
Though the Heartbreakers were dismayed by Petty's decision to go solo (similar to the arrangement between Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at the time), Campbell played guitar solos on every track, Tench contributed piano to one track, and Epstein reluctantly provided backing vocals to two tracks.
Relationship with music industry
Petty has fought against his record company on more than one occasion, first in 1979 over transference to another label and then again in 1981 over the price of his record, which was (at that time) considered expensive. He is also outspoken on the current state of the music industry and modern radio stations, a topic that was a center concept of the lyrics of his 2002 album, The Last DJ, and its respective limited edition DVD.
In an interview with Billboard magazine, Petty described himself as "not really [being] involved in the business side of music." Petty however is very much involved in ticket pricing; he keeps his ticket prices between US$25–50. The low ticket prices is one of the reasons for Petty's often sold out shows and a way of saying "thank you to his fans for all the years of support."
- Current members
- Tom Petty – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica (1975–present)
- Mike Campbell – lead guitar (1975–present)
- Benmont Tench – keyboards, backing vocals (1975–present)
- Ron Blair – bass, backing vocals (1975–1982, 2002–present)
- Scott Thurston – rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals (1991–present)
- Steve Ferrone – drums, percussion (1994–present)
- Former members
- Stan Lynch – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1975–1994)
- Howie Epstein – bass, backing vocals (1982–2002; died 2003)
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976)
- You're Gonna Get It! (1978)
- Damn the Torpedoes (1979)
- Hard Promises (1981)
- Long After Dark (1982)
- Southern Accents (1985)
- Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) (1987)
- Full Moon Fever* (1989)
- Into the Great Wide Open (1991)
- Wildflowers* (1994)
- Songs and Music from "She's the One" (1996)
- Echo (1999)
- The Last DJ (2002)
- Highway Companion* (2006)
- Mojo (2010)
- Hypnotic Eye (2014)
- Runnin' Down a Dream - a film documenting the history of the band
- List of awards and nominations received by Tom Petty
- Mudcrutch - Petty's prior band, featuring Heartbreaker members
- Traveling Wilburys - a band featuring Tom Petty, frequent Petty collaborator Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan
- The Blue Stingrays a band that was composed of the members of the Heartbreakers in 1997.
- "Tom Petty Announces 2014 Tour, Release Date for 'Hypnotic Eye'". UltimateClassicRock.com.
- Reporter, Belper News (2013-01-30). "Top talent at The Flowerpot". Belper News. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- Petty: The Biography Paperback by Warren Zanes. Henry Holt. New York, 2005 ISBN 0805099689. pg 105
- "Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
- "Tom Petty gets key to Gainesville, Fla". USA Today. September 22, 2006.
- McKnight, Connor. "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Announce New Album, Tour". billboard.com. February 25, 2010.
- "May 23, 1979: Tom Petty defies his record label and files for bankruptcy". This Day In History. The History Channel. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Petty, Tom & Zollo, Paul (2005). Conversations with Tom Petty. Omnibus Press. p. 72. ISBN 1-84449-815-8.
- The Last DJ (Bonus DVD)
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