Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty (1950–2017) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. He fronted the Heartbreakers, a classic rock quintet that released eight albums between 1976 and 1991. Their radio evergreens include “Breakdown,” “Refugee,” “The Waiting,” “A Woman In Love,” “You Got Lucky,” and the Stevie Nicks duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”

In 1988, Petty appeared in the Traveling Wilburys, a rock supergroup with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison. Lynne produced Petty’s 1989 debut solo album Full Moon Fever, which spawned the hits “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Falling.”

Heartbreakers members: Tom Petty (vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards), Mike Campbell (guitar, accordion, bass, vocals), Benmont Tench (keyboards, piano, organ, vocals), Ron Blair (bass, guitar, 1976-82, 2002-2017), Stan Lynch (drums, vocals, 1976-94), Howie Epstein (bass, 1982-2002), Scott Thurston (guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica, ukulele, vocals, 1991-2017), Steve Ferrone (drums, 1994-2017)

Early Life

He was born Thomas Earl Petty on October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida; the first of two sons borne to Earl Petty (1924–1999; a traveling salesman) and Kitty (née Avery, 1927–1980; a tax-office worker). Their second son, Bruce, was born seven years after Tom.

Petty’s uncle worked on the set of Elvis Presley’s 1962 musical comedy Follow That Dream, filmed in nearby Ocala. The pre-teen Petty met the icon, who sparked Tom’s lifelong fascination with rock music.

In 1968, Petty graduated from Gainesville High School, the alma mater of Eagles guitarist Don Felder (three grades earlier) and Stephen Stills (five grades earlier).

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their self-titled debut album on November 9, 1976, on Shelter Records.

The album features ten Petty originals, including “Luna,” “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It),” and the FM evergreens “Breakdown” and “American Girl.”

Mike Campbell co-wrote the opener, “Rockin’ Around (With You),” a single in Germany. Side A wraps with “Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll,” their breakthrough UK hit.

A1. “Rockin’ Around (With You)” (2:26)
A2. “Breakdown” (2:42)
A3. “Hometown Blues” (2:14)
A4. “The Wild One, Forever” (3:01)
A5. “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” (2:23)
B1. “Strangered In the Night” (3:32)
B2. “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)” (3:54)
B3. “Mystery Man” (3:04)
B4. “Luna” (3:59)
B5. “American Girl” (3:33)

Recorded At – The Shelter Studio, Hollywood
Producer – Denny Cordell

“Breakdown” became a US radio staple after its inclusion on the soundtrack to FM, a 1978 dramedy about a radio staff revolt and station takeover.

You’re Gonna Get It!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, on May 2, 1978, on Shelter Records. At 29:38, it’s their shortest album.

Petty lone-wrote eight songs, including “When the Time Comes,” “Too Much Ain’t Enough,” and the singles “I Need to Know” and “Listen to Her Heart.” Campbell co-wrote “Hurt” and “Baby’s a Rock ‘n’ Roller.”

A1. “When the Time Comes” (2:48)
A2. “You’re Gonna Get It” (2:57)
A3. “Hurt” (3:17)
A4. “Magnolia” (2:59)
A5. “Too Much Ain’t Enough” (2:46)
B1. “I Need to Know” (2:23)
B2. “Listen to Her Heart” (3:01)
B3. “No Second Thoughts” (2:38)
B4. “Restless” (3:22)
B5. “Baby’s a Rock ‘n’ Roller” (2:54)

Studio Shelter (Hollywood)
Producer – Denny Cordell, Noah Shark, Tom Petty
Engineer – Max Reese, Noah Shark

Accordion [Squeeze box], Guitar [6 & 12 String] – Mike Campbell
Drums, Vocals – Stan Lynch
Electric Bass, Acoustic Guitar – Ron Blair
Piano, Vocals, Guitar [6 & 12 String] – Tom Petty
Piano, Vocals, Organ – Benmont Tench

Backing Vocals – Phil Seymour (A4)
Maracas [Beer Cans, Odds & Ends] – Noah Shark

Damn the Torpedoes

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their third album, Damn the Torpedoes, on October 19, 1979, on Backstreet–MCA.

Damn the Torpedoes features nine Petty originals, including “Century City” “Louisiana Rain,” and the singles “Even the Losers” and “Don’t Do Me Like That,” a piano-driven radio evergreen.

Campbell co-wrote “Here Comes My Girl” and the strident “Refugee,” the Heartbreakers’ breakout hit.

A1. “Refugee” (3:20)
A2. “Here Comes My Girl” (4:23)
A3. “Even the Losers” (3:59)
A4. “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)” (4:23)
A5. “Century City” (3:43)
B1. “Don’t Do Me Like That” (2:42)
B2. “You Tell Me” (4:33) features bassist Duck Dunn
B3. “What Are You Doin’ In My Life” (3:23)
B4. “Louisiana Rain” (5:51)

Recorded At – Sound City Studios
Recorded At – Cherokee Studios
Producer – Jimmy Iovine, Tom Petty
Engineer – Shelly Yakus
Engineer [Assistant] – Gray Russell, John Mathias, Skip Saylor, Tom Panunzio, Tori Swenson

Art Direction – Tommy Steele
Photography By [B&W Innersleeve] – Aaron Rapoport
Photography By [Back Cover] – Dennis Callahan
Photography By [Colour Innersleeve] – Lynn Goldsmith
Photography By [Front Cover] – Glen Christensen

“Don’t Do Me Like That”
Released: November 5, 1979
Released: January 11, 1980
“Here Comes My Girl”
Released: April 7, 1980
“Even the Losers”
Released: July 1980 (Australia only)

Hard Promises

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their fourth album, Hard Promises, on May 5, 1981, on Backstreet–MCA.

Hard Promises features ten Petty originals, including “The Criminal Kind,” “Kings Road,” “Insider,” and the singles “Something Big” and “The Waiting.”

Mike Campbell “Nightwatchman,” “You Can Still Change Your Mind,” and “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me),” an ominous radio staple.

Stevie Nicks guests on “Insider” and “You Can Still Change Your Mind.” Hard Promises appeared two months ahead of Nicks’ solo debut Bella Donna and its lead single, the Petty and the Heartbreakers duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”

The Hearbreakers shot videos for “The Waiting,” “Letting You Go,” and a film noir clip for “A Woman In Love.” All three received high rotation on the fledgling MTV network.

A1. “The Waiting” (3:54)
A2. “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” (4:21) features bassist Duck Dunn
A3. “Nightwatchman” (3:58) features “wild dog” pianist Alan “Bugs” Weidel
A4. “Something Big” (4:45) features Petty on electric piano.
A5. “Kings Road” (3:21)
B1. “Letting You Go” (3:22)
B2. “A Thing About You” (3:32)
B3. “Insider” (4:21) features harmonies by Stevie Nicks
B4. “The Criminal Kind” (3:55)
B5. “You Can Still Change Your Mind” (4:01) features backing vocals by Nicks and her long-time sidewoman Sharon Ceylani

Recorded At – Sound City Studios
Recorded At – Cherokee Studios
Recorded At – Goodnight LA Studios
Producer – Jimmy Iovine, Tom Petty
Engineer – Shelly Yakus
Engineer [Assistant, Uncredited] – John Michael Weaver
Engineer [Assistant] – Brad Gilderman, Tori Swenson

Bass Guitar – Ron Blair
Drums, Vocals – Stan Lynch
Electric Guitar [12 & 6-String], Autoharp [Auto-Harp], Accordion [Accordian], Harmonium, Bass Guitar – Mike Campbell
Organ, Piano, Vocals – Benmont Tench
Vocals, Electric Guitar [12 & 6-String], Acoustic Guitar [12 & 6-String] – T.P.

Stevie Nicks – backing vocals on “Insider” and “You Can Still Change Your Mind”
Lori Nicks – backing vocals on “Insider”
Sharon Celani – backing vocals on “You Can Still Change Your Mind”
Donald “Duck” Dunn – bass guitar on “A Woman in Love”
Phil Jones – percussion
Alan “Bugs” Weidel – piano on “Nightwatchman”

Art Direction, Design – Art Hotel, Tommy Steele
Artwork [Hand Coloring] – Bennett Hall
Photography By [Back Cover] – Dennis Callahan
Photography By [Collage] – Benmont Tench, Dennis Callahan, Joel Bernstein, Lynn Goldsmith
Photography By [Collage], Photography By [Back Cover, T.P.] – Henry Diltz
Photography By [Front Cover] – Joel Bernstein
Photography By [Group Photo & Lyric Insert] – Joel Bernstein

“The Waiting”/”Nightwatchman”
Released: April 20, 1981
“A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)”
Released: June 29, 1981
“Something Big”/”Letting You Go”

Long After Dark

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their fifth album, Long After Dark, on November 2, 1982, on Backstreet–MCA.

Long After Dark features ten Petty originals, including “Change of Heart,” “Straight Into Darkness,” and “A Wasted Life.”

Mike Campbell co-wrote “Finding Out,” “The Same Old You,” “Between Two Worlds” and the synth-laden “You Got Lucky,” the album’s lead single.

A1. “A One Story Town” (3:05)
A2. “You Got Lucky” (3:37)
A3. “Deliver Me” (3:27)
A4. “Change of Heart” (3:19)
A5. “Finding Out” (3:35)
B1. “We Stand a Chance” (3:37)
B2. “Straight Into Darkness” (3:48)
B3. “The Same Old You” (3:29)
B4. “Between Two Worlds” (5:10)
B5. “A Wasted Life” (4:37)

Recorded At – Record Plant, Los Angeles
Recorded At – Wally Heider Recording Studio, Los Angeles
Recorded At – Crystal Sound
Recorded At – Rumbo Recorders
Producer – Jimmy Iovine, Tom Petty
Engineer – Shelly Yakus
Engineer [Assistant] – Alan Wiedel, Bill Freesh, Brad Gilderman, Charlie Brewer, David Bianco, Eddie Delena, Greg Edward, Hill Swimmer, Kevin Eddy, Michael Carnevale, Nick Basich, Norman Perbil
Engineer [Remix] – Don Smith, Shelly Yakus

Tom Petty – lead vocals, guitars (acoustic, electric, 12-string, lead on “We Stand a Chance”), Prophet 5 synthesizer
Mike Campbell – guitars (lead, 12-string), organ on “We Stand a Chance”
Howie Epstein – bass guitar, backing vocals
Benmont Tench – acoustic and electric pianos, Hammond and Vox organs, Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer, backing vocals
Stan Lynch – drums, backing vocals

Ron Blair – bass guitar on “Between Two Worlds”
Phil Jones – percussion
Craig Harris – programming: Synthesizer Program (A2) and Vocoder (B1)

Photography By [Back Photo] – Aaron Rapoport
Photography By [Front Photo] – Andrew Sackheim

“You Got Lucky”/”Between Two Worlds”
Released: October 22, 1982
“Straight into Darkness”/”A Wasted Life”
Released: 1982
“Change of Heart”
Released: February 1983

Southern Accents

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their sixth album, Southern Accents, on March 26, 1985, on MCA.

Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their seventh album, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), on April 21, 1987, on MCA.

Albums with The Heartbreakers:

  • 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)
  • Into the Great Wide Open (1991)
  • Songs and Music from “She’s the One” (1996)
  • Echo (1999)
  • The Last DJ (2002)
  • Mojo (2010)
  • Hypnotic Eye (2014)

Solo albums:

  • Full Moon Fever (1989)
  • Wildflowers (1994)
  • Highway Companion (2006)


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