Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. In 1976, the band's original lineup was Tom Petty as the primary vocalist 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 1982, 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. Blair returned to the Heartbreakers in 2002, the year before Epstein's death. In 1994, Lynch, who left the band, was replaced by Curt Bisquera and Steve Ferrone.
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. 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 after 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 Bob Dylan. It includes "Jammin' Me" (#18 U.S.), which Petty wrote with Bob Dylan and Campbell. Bob Dylan recorded a version of the Petty composition, "Got My Mind Made Up", on his album, Knocked Out Loaded.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1989 tour featured college rock band The Replacements opening every show.
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". By this time, multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston had joined the band.
In 1993, Petty released Greatest Hits which included hit single "Mary Jane's Last Dance". Stan Lynch had moved to Florida, but was persuaded to return for his last session with the band.
In 1994 Stan Lynch left the band by mutual agreement 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 records 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, Petty and the Heartbreakers 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 Tom Petty 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.
In 2006, the ABC U.S. television network hired Petty to do the music for its NBA Playoffs coverage.
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. Tom 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 2007, the band accepted an invitation to participate in a tribute album to Fats Domino, contributing their version of "I'm Walkin'" to Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard).
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, got together to record a Mudcrutch album. In late 2008 a live album featuring Mudcrutch was released.
A collection of live recordings was released on 23 November 2009, and announced a new studio album, Mojo, for release in the Spring of 2010.
Petty has announced he intends to release a new Heartbreakers album in 2014. The new album, titled Hypnotic Eye, is set to be released on July 29, 2014.