Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
About Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
If someone wanted an audio capture of the everyman themes, the guitar licks, and the head-nodding grooves that are what rock 'n' roll is all about, a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers record would fill the need. Born in Gainesville, Florida in 1950, Petty spent his youth soaking up rock verities from first-gen rebels like Elvis Presley and '60s British Invasion legends like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. By 1976 his roots-rocking Gainesville gang Mudcrutch had moved to L.A. and evolved into Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, whose self-titled debut LP delivered instantly timeless tracks like the pealing, Byrds-influenced riffs “American Girl” and unimpeachably cool, bluesy “Breakdown.” The nuance and dynamism delivered by bassist Ron Blair, lead guitarist Mike Campbell, drummer Stan Lynch, and keyboardist Benmont Tench made The Heartbreakers a band to be reckoned with. And as songs like "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Refugee" from 1979's blockbuster Damn the Torpedoes saturated '70s airwaves with a fresh take on vintage ideas, they were defining what would come to be known as heartland rock alongside the likes of Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen. Starting with 1982's Long After Dark, Howie Epstein replaced Blair, and by the next LP, Southern Accents, the band were working with producer Dave Stewart and experimenting with swirling psychedelia ("Don't Come Around Here No More"), brass, and beyond. After 1991's Into the Great Wide Open, Lynch was replaced by Steve Ferrone, and 1999's Echo was Epstein's final Heartbreakers album before drugs claimed his life in 2003; Blair then returned to resume his old role. Even as Petty earned elder-statesman status, he and the Heartbreakers never relinquished their ties to each other and their love of raw, honest rock 'n' roll. They kept the faith until Petty's death on October 2, 2017, just a week after the band finished a tour celebrating their 40th anniversary.