The Petty Archives

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New On The Charts: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Billboard — December 3, 1977

“Breakdown” — 100

Petty played in local rock bands in Florida from the mid-1960s until 1973, when his group Mudcrutch moved to L.A. That band included Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, the guitarist and keyboard player for the present day Heartbreakers.

Denny Cordell’s Tulsa-based Shelter Records signed Mudcrutch, but the group dissolved before finishing its first album, leaving Petty as a solo Shelter artist.

Two years later, Tom regrouped with two of his Mudcrutch cohorts as well as fellow Floridians Ron Blair on electric bass and Stan Lynch on drums. This is the lineup of the Heartbreakers, whose debut album was released last winter.

Petty cites his main influences Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, and especially the late ’60s West Coast folk-rock of the Byrds. Petty’s tribute to the Byrds, “American Girl,” was covered by Roger McGuinn on his “Thunderbyrd” album and the Heartbreakers have also been opening for McGuinn on the road.

The 24-year-old guitarist has been tagged a punk, but his music is simply classic rock ‘n’ roll, free of the calculation and pretense of contemporary pop, and characterized instead by a sense of urgency and defiance.

The group is managed by Tony Dimitriades of L.A. (213) 876-7822. Its agent is Peter Russo of Premier Talent in New York, (212) 758-4900.