On Tap: Petty, Cliff honor past while forging own paths
By Jim Higgins
The Milwaukee Sentinel - September 6, 1991
Tom Petty and Jimmy Cliff, a pair of singers who honor tradition while distinctly going their own way, will sing in Milwaukee this weekend.
Petty and the Heartbreakers will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Marcus Amphitheater. Tickets are $22.50 and $29.50, plus service charges.
Listeners who heard Petty's "American Girl" from his 1976 debut album might have sworn it was Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. Petty's sound owes a lot, including occasional use of 12-string guitar, to The Byrds, and he honored McGuinn by co-writing "King of the Hill" for the Byrdman's recent "Back From Rio" album.
In addition to echoing McGuinn, Petty plays with a snarling emotional intensity that's all his own.
After years of recording hard-edged records with the Heartbreakers, though, he lightened up and cut the solo CD "Full Moon Fever" (1989), which featured the hits "Free Fallin'," "Running Down a Dream" and "I Won't Back Down." The new Petty and the Heartbreakers album is "Into the Great Wide Open" (MCA).
Petty is a charter member of the Traveling Wilburys, whose first album also featured George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan and the late Roy Orbison. Petty co-wrote "You Got It," Orbison's posthumous solo hit. He also was deeply involved in the production of late rocker Del Shannon's final album, which is slated to be released on Petty's own Gone Gator Records.
Heartbreakers bassist Howie Epstein is a Milwaukee native.