The Petty Archives

A Heartbreaker From Way Back
By George Smith and Amy Longsdorf
The Morning Call - August 25, 1989

It's 1976 and an unknown band called The Heartbreakers is touring in support of Canadian metal trio, Rush, at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. The Canucks are selling out halls all over the United States because of a pompous LP of science fiction piffle known as "2112."

The Heartbreakers, on the other hand, led by a diminutive singer named Tom Petty, are tossing these audiences 40-minute sets of taut rock 'n' roll including nods to The Byrds, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and The Everly Brothers. Surprisingly, they survive the tour without being lynched.

Thirteen years have gone by and Rush are now successful purveyors of rock Muzak; the Canadians still sell OK, but no one cares. Not so The Heartbreakers, or more specifically, Petty. His first solo LP on MCA, "Full Moon Fever," has been lodged in the Billboard Top 10 for most of the summer. Petty and his bandmates pull into the Allentown Fairgrounds on Wednesday night with The Replacements, beginning the Allentown Fair's slate of big-name acts. Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty follow the next night.

Music Review: Replacements booted for polished Petty
By Scott Mervis
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Friday, August 25, 1989

In an industry gone mad, it only figures that the "Band of the '80s" (supposedly) would get a crummy opening slot and get booted off the stage after 40 minutes.

That band is The Replacements, and they opened for Tom Petty last night at the A.J. Palumbo Center. The unusual bill offered a study in contrasts of two great bands and two great songwriters.

The Replacements' Paul Westerburg draws on all the schlock rock of the mid-'70s (some of Petty's included), but the pop sensibilities are replaced with nastiness and attitude. The live performances are sloppy fun, with Westerburg's mood constantly shifting between passion and hopelessness.

  • 1989-08-25_The-Pittsburgh-Press

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Entertainment: Tom Petty inspires Palumbo Center Crowd
By Peter B. King
The Pittsburgh Press - Friday, August 25, 1989

Rock stars inspire all sorts of emotions in audiences, from amazement at a guitar hero's technical prowess to envy of a conspicuously rich, scandalous lifestyle.

Tom Petty is one (Bruce Springsteen also comes to mind) who inspires belief in his integrity.

We think nothing of hearing Madonna's music in a Pepsi commercial. But we'd be let down hard if Petty's "Southern Accents" turned up on a commercial for Cajun spices, now wouldn't we?

Petty and band offer fun, non-stress rock
By Lynne Margolis
Washington Observer-Reporter - August 26, 1989

Now I know why a friend grabbed her wedding party and skipped out on her own reception to attend a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert once.

Petty and the band know how to make their audience have a great time. Of course, it helps when the crowd is as appreciative as it was Thursday night at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center.

Before the first note sounded in the hour-and-45-minute concert, many in the audience were on their feet. As soon as the band started into the Byrds' "Feel A Whole Lot Better," the sing-along began.

At one point, the band delivered a blues-jazz intro that came the seductive melody, "Breakdown." Almost before Petty sang the first note, the crowd commandeered the song from him, singing the whole thing as he shrugged his shoulders and conducted.

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Petty's return heartens his touring band
By Gary Graff
New London Day - August 27, 1989

In the reach out and touch someone department, Tom Petty isn't about to list them as his favorite phone calls.

They were the calls he made last year to the other members of his band, the Heartbreakers, to tell them that after 14 years together, he'd decided to make a solo album.

"They weren't really overjoyed about it," Petty, 37, said by telephone from his manager's Los Angeles office. Who could blame them? Petty's name has been out front since the start, and the quintet had just settled down after going through some rough intraband turmoil during the mid-'80s.

For additional anxiety, Petty joined another band, albeit a temporary unit. It was the all-star Traveling Wilburys, whose ranks also boasted Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

Petty's bandmates couldn't help but wonder if their leader was breaking up those Heartbreakers of his.

"They probably just wondered if I was quitting or not," Petty said. "I tried to reassure them that I wasn't. And I wasn't."

  • 1989-08-28_Lewiston-Sun-Journal

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Singer Tom Petty says old-style elements are worth keeping
By David Hinckley
Lewiston Sun Journal - Monday, August 28, 1989

Yeah, says Tom Petty, he did shake his head a few times during the Traveling Wilburys sessions, when he ws working with Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison.

"You want to be of some use," he says with a laugh. "But it's hard, right after you've heard Roy Orbison sing, to tell him he oughta do another take."

On the other hand, maybe after that it was easy to finish up his own album, "Full Moon Fever," and take it on the road. That tour is his first in two years.

Nor, encouragingly for Petty, does the superb Wilburys album overshadow "Full Moon Fever," which is technically a solo album although there are contributions here and there from most of his band, the Heartbreakers. It climbed into the national top five, which isn't bad for a record Petty started two years ago from a blank slate.

"I didn't even think how it would come out," he says. "We did it one track at a time. The first time I considered where it might be going was after we'd done nine songs, when I took a break to do the Wilburys.

"But it was pretty loose. The song 'All Right for Now' happened because I just thought I'd like to do something in open tuning. We did 'I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better' after I'd seen the Byrds reunion concert. I always loved the song as a kid, and I'd just gotten a new 12-string guitar, so I decided to do it."

Heartbreakers, Replacements Play Great Rock
By George Smith
The Morning Call - August 31, 1989

The "old" Replacements showed up to open for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at the Fairgrounds last night. From a purist's standpoint it was great rock 'n' roll, from a Petty worshiper's view it was maddening and if you were in the band . . . it was understandable.

However, it didn't start out that way. The 'Mats seemed genuinely charged up when they hit the stage, opening with "Tommy Got His Tonsils Out" from "Let It Be." "Color Me Impressed," "Bastards of Young," and that other song from "Let It Be" (which can't be mentioned in a family newspaper) followed. Singer Paul Westerberg then downshifted into the poignant "Skyway" as the show unraveled.

Visibly annoyed by the crowd's constant screaming for the headliner, the band transformed "I'll Be You" from "Don't Tell A Soul" into a two-beat crawl. The audience failed to see the novelty and The 'Mats wrapped with a ragged version of The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" which was brought to a grinding halt when Westerberg spiked his guitar into his amplifier and drummer Chris Mars kicked his kit off the stage.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were great rock 'n' roll too, but for different reasons. The band's obvious strengths are maturity and an arm load of great songs. However, The Heartbreakers live go way beyond that. After being around for more than a decade, Petty still carries it all off with an air of freshness and wonderment that belies his massive reputation.

  • 1989-09-01_Meriden-Record-Journal

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Music Review: Petty has them singing along
By Jim Zebora
Meriden Record-Journal - Friday, September 1, 1989

BRISTOL -- If album rock has a king, it must be Tom Petty.

Petty is a performer for the modern rock fan. He's a drawling singer, a down home persona, a writer of songs with rather universal youthful sentiments.

He has the style that creates hits and keeps them alive in people minds an on the radio. Without challenging anyone too much, Petty makes his music pretty appealing.

And let's call him rock's sing-along king, too, since that's what he was Thursday night at Lake Compounce Festival Park. With the exception of a mid-set instrumental and -- curiously enough -- a Bob Dylan cover, Petty had a greater percentage of the crowd joining in unbidden than any performer in recent memory save Ringo Starr.

Accompanied by his Heartbreakers, a band like its leader dedicated to straightforward, non-complex rocking, Petty delivered 100 minutes of music that was variously enthusiastic and exciting. Not always at the same time, but often enough to make the show worthwhile.

Tom Petty is one of rock's premier rockers
By Diahann Nadeau
The Georgetown Herald - Wednesday, September 6, 1989

 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played a sold out concert at Kingswood on Labor Day Weekend. Petty, who is notoriously wary of reporters and interviews, was totally open with his fans. Relaxed, grinning, friendly, and outgoing, Petty was a delight to watch, a charismatic master of ceremonies who had the audience enthralled from beginning to end.

The stage was decorated with a number of props, including a full size totem pole, stuffed grizzly bear, ox head, wooden Indian, suit of armor, and a few other oddities. The band opened with American Girl from their 1976 debut album, went on to The Reason Why, from Petty's solo album, the brilliant Full Moon Fever. There followed two hours of old favorites, such as Refugee, You Got Lucky, Even the Losers, Rebels, Breakdown, Don't Come Around Here No More, and Jamming Me, complete with updated lyrics -- "take back Batman and Pete Rose."

Interspersed through the old songs were the new: Free Falling ("I like that one myself," Petty admitted at the end of it), Yer So Bad ("my system got lucky and married a Yuppie, took him for all he was worth, now she's a swinger and dating a singer, I can't decide which is worse"), the incredibly pretty Face in the Crowd, and Running Down a Dream. He also included some covers, Route 66, Should I Stay or Should I Go, Feel a Whole Lot Better and Don't Bring Me Down.

Heartbreakers Mike Campbell on lead guitar, Benmont Tench, "the boy with the boogie-woogie brain," on keyboards, Howie Epstein on bass, and Stan Lynch on drums were all excellent. But Petty is the man to watch. Not just another pretty face in rock (someone once described him as having "a face only a mother could love, and then only on payday"), he is too thin and weak chinned to be attractive. However, he is so charming and active that it is impossible to take one's eyes off him.