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We received your recent letter and would like to thank you for your support. All of our fans are very important to us, but the ones who write in are truly special. It would be great if we could answer each letter personally, but due to our touring schedule, rehearsals, and studio commitments, it is just impossible. So, we thought a note like this would be the best way to get in touch with you.
The Heartbreakers lineup is the same as ever: Tom Petty on guitar and vocals, Ron Blair on bass, Benmont Tench on keyboards, Mike Campbell on guitar, and Stanley Lynch on drums.
"DAMN THE TORPEDOES" is a Top Five album and has been receiving more radio play than any album in the country. The first single, "Don't Do Me Like That" is in the Top Ten, and the new single, "Refugee" is rapidly moving up the charts. An extra surprise is the first album, "Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers" re-entering BILLBOARD's Top 200. This is happening because of YOU!! Your support in the record stores and your calls to the radio stations don't go unnoticed. We are aware of it and we thank you.
1980 is going to be an exciting year for the band, and we hope y'all have a good one too. We look forward to seeing all of you when we come to your city.
T.P. & THE HEARTBREAKERS
Mike, Ben, Ron & Stan
TOM TORPEDOES AM/FM PLAYLISTS
As we go to press, here are the latest news flashes from Tom Petty Central:
(1) "Damn the Torpedoes," placed comfortably in Billboard's Top Ten, is, as of this writing, the most played album (on the radio) in the United States!
(2) It has gone gold in Canada and went platinum (1,000,000 albums sold) in the U.S. right around New Years.
(3) The latest single from the album, "Don't Do Me Like That," is getting plenty of airplay and is climbing the charts steadily. "Refugee" will be the next single off the album and should be released right around the end of January. Be sure to call your local stations to request it!
(4) Tom and the Heartbreakers have been recording some of their recent live shows for a special presentation of the King Biscuit Hour. The program should be aired around Valentine's Day, so watch your local listings.
(5) Tom and the band will be on the cover of Rolling Stone soon, with a major story inside.
(6) Watch for some Tom Petty footage on the Don Kirschner program in February.
(7) Tom and the Heartbreakers played the Oakland Coliseum on New Year's Eve. Sharing the bill with Eddie Money and Chuck Berry, they ushered in the new decade for 50,000 rock-'n'-rollers with an amazing show. As the Heartbreakers' set began, Tom flew down out of the rafters on a long thin wire and, finally landing on stage, smashed a huge red heart there. Of course, that was only the beginning!
Happy New Year to all of you!
We have a great deal of things to tell you about: the release of the album, Tom's recent appearances, the Lawsuit Tour, a highlight on Mike Campbell, and so on.
"Damn The Torpedoes"
By now, most of you are probably considering buying a second copy of "Damn the Torpedoes" to give the first one a rest, so it would be silly for us to mention it was released last October nineteenth, but we will tell you that when it was released, it generated one of the most immediate and sensational responses in radio history.
Radio station KMET, the number one FM rock station in Los Angeles, told us they had never, ever, played a new album so much.
In Philadelphia, radio station WIOQ somehow, through some very mysterious and, as yet, unexplained manueverings, obtained a copy of the album before its official release date and began playing it non-stop. Naturally, every rock-n'-roller in town tuned into WIOQ. Soon, many parties were hot and bothered by this development: Backstreet Records, Tom's new record label, and the other stations in town. Backstreet threatened to sue if WIOQ didn't stop playing the record. WIOQ simply ignored the hubbub and kept on playing it. Voices and tempers began to rise. The folks at Backstreet, carefully assessing the state of affairs, realized terrible disorders were imminent in the fabric of society unless action was quickly taken. They decided there was only one fair way to restore the peace: they gave copies of the record to all the other Philly stations so they might get some of their listeners back. It worked, and calm once again reigned over the land.
Last September, Tom and the Heartbreakers appeared at the huge anti-nuke benefit at Madison Square Garden. The crowd was pretty tame until Tom and the boys took the stage. They had been preceded by Gil-Scott-Heron, Peter Tosh, and Bonnie Raitt, all of whom put on fine shows, but it wasn't until Tom and the band started playing that the crowd jumped to its feet and began dancing on their seats. After a short, tight set, Tom left the audience screaming for more. Bruce Springsteen arrived on stage and started playing. This did not encourage anyone to sit down. For his finale, Bruce asked Tom and Jackson Browne to join him, which they did. Together, they did a fantastic version of "Stay," the Iseley Brothers classic. Luckily, the concert was recorded and filmed. The record has been released and we would be remiss in our duties if we didn't mention that the cuts getting the most airplay currently are those of Bruce and ... Tom Petty!
The "Lawsuit Tour"
We want to tell you about Tom's mini-tour through California, which they called the "Lawsuit Tour," but think you should know a little of the background behind it.
You are all aware of the various hassles Tom's had this past year, so this is just a simple summary of what led up to the "Lawsuit Tour:"
Last March, MCA Records bought ABC records. ABC was Tom's label prior to that. MCA said that Tom's contract was transferable and that he was now their property. Tom's lawyers said that the contract was not transferable due to a clause in the original contract. An impasse.
Tom was busy recording his third album at this time. He was refusing to go along with MCA and so they cut off his funds. The band continued recording and ran up a few bills.
Anyway, in May, Tom filed for a financial reorganization through the courts. He needed more time to pay his bills and he also wanted the court to free him from MCA. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the issues were resolved.
Tom's new label, Backstreet Records, was a result of all this, as was the release of "Damn the Torpedoes" and the "Lawsuit Tour."
The "Lawsuit Tour" began in Salinas. From there, the band went to Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Reno, and ended up at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles for two sold-out shows.
At all the shows, Tom Petty t-shirts with the inscription, "Lawsuit Tour," were selling like hotcakes. Tom's road crew had their own special shirts with "WHY MCA" printed on the sleeves, a not-so-subtle reference to the pillage people at the record company.
The L.A. shows were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at their absolute best. After the shows, the critic for the Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Tom Petty appears to be on a collision course with major rock stardom." Another critic wrote, "By the end of the set, he and the Heartbreakers left little doubt that they are among the premier attractions in rock."
Throughout the tour, Tom and the band stuck to a predetermined sequence of songs. Opening when "When the Time Comes," they moved on to "Anything That's Rock and Roll," and then into "Fooled Again," after which they did "I Need To Know." Next they would do a song they have rarely done live, "Wild One Forever." "Listen To Her Heart" followed that and then Tom introduced two new songs, both of which are on the new album, "Here Comes My Girl," and then "Even the Losers." One critic described them as "most striking ... if the rest of his next album is as good, Petty is definitely here to stay."
This being the "Lawsuit Tour," Tom did an old blues number next, an old Solomon Burke song, "Cry To Me," one the Rolling Stones once recorded. As the band played a blues shuffle intro, Tom explained how he happened to be playing this particular song. It seems an old friend called him up before the tour and asked him why all these people were suing him. They talked about it for awhile. Finally his friend said, "Why don't you play 'Cry For Me' on your tour?" and Tom liked the idea. The next three songs were "American Girl," "Strangered In The Night," and "Too Much Ain't Enough." For their last song, they did a thundering version of the Isley Brothers' hit, "Shout." The audience, which had been rushing the stage throughout the show, went nuts and it was obvious the band would have to do an encore. Tom, et al, returned to the stage shortly and did two songs, "Dog On The Run," an unrecorded original, and a steaming "I Fought The Law (And The Law Won)," which Tom dedicated to his lawyers, who were in the audience. The band left the stage. Was too much enough for the fans? Of course not. They wanted more and let the band know it. Tom and the band came back a few minutes later with their version of "Anyway You Want It," the Dave Clark Five song from the early sixties, and left the stage again.
Now, any rational person would realize that this was just about the extreme limit of the amount of rock and roll that any live human being could take and still be somewhere in the proximity of the planet Earth. We all know this to be true. But we also know that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were playing, so it will come as no surprise that the audience would settle for no less than another encore. The band returned once again for a sizzling version of the old Stones' song, "Route 66." The kids were dancing in the aisles and on their seats. Tom and the band left the stage for the night.
Mike Campbell: Have Guitar, Will Travel
We all know you have your favorites in the band, so we're going to concentrate on one guy per edition for awhile so you can get an idea of what the men with Tom are like.
This time, the man on the hot seat in Mike Campbell.
Mike was born in Panama City twenty-seven years ago. He is an Aquarius. He grew up in Florida, went to school there, and ended up a few years back in Gainesville, Florida, where he met Tom. The two hit it off immediately.
Tom asked Mike to join his band, Mudcrutch, which was the predecessor to the Heartbreakers. Mike's first gigs with Mudcrutch were in a topless joint in Gainesville called Dub's Steer Room. Little is known about these early days. As time went on, Mike became Tom's right-hand man and one of his best friends.
Mike says that the major turning point in his life was the appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan television program in 1964, when he was eleven or twelve. He took up the guitar later when he realized he "couldn't get the girls with basketball," as he puts it.
He has never had any musical education -- he couldn't read music fast enough to get into music school -- and is a self-taught guitarist, pianist, and bassist. One of his earliest musical influences was Mike Bloomfield, of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Mike now owns twelve guitars, including a 1951 Fender Broadcaster, his pride and joy. He is not a guitar collector, as such: every guitar is used constantly, for different sounds and various tunings.
He began writing music as soon as he started playing, but it wasn't until recently, with Tom's help and guidance, that he could transform his ideas into complete songs. On the first album, he collaborated on "Rocking Around With You." On the second, "Baby's A Rock And Roller," and "Hurt." On the upcoming album, he and Tom shared songwriting responsibilities on the aforementioned "Here Comes My Girl," and "Even the Losers." Considering the reaction to the latter two songs on their tour, it's obvious that Mike has made some amazing strides in refining his ideas and will continue to be a major musical force within the band.
Mike uses a four-track rape recording machine on which he works out his concepts. When he develops them to his satisfaction, he gives them to Tom, who then writes the words and melodies to them. A simple, but, obviously, effective process.
We asked Mike if he had any hobbies. He replied, "Songwriting, sex, drugs, and rock and roll." We shall leave it to you to decide whether he was joking or not.
Mike, like everyone else in the band, lives in Los Angeles.
He asked us to convey this message: "I want to thank every one of you who make it up to the front rows at our shows, because I never forget a face!"
Tom and Jimmy Iovine co-produced the upcoming album. If you recognize Jimmy's name, it's because you've probably seen it on earlier Tom Petty albums where he got engineering credits, or on John Lennon's albums "Rock n' Roll," and "Walls and Bridges," or on a couple of Bruce Springsteen's albums, or on Patti Smith's album, "Easter." As a matter of fact, it was Jimmy who got the song "Because The Night," from Bruce for Patti, providing her with her first big hit. Working with Jimmy and Tom on the new album is Shelley Yakus, another name you are likely to recognize. He and Jimmy have been working together for years.
And that is pretty much all we have to report for now.
We want you all to be sure to make it when Tom comes to your town next, 'cause he'll be lookin' for you!