The Petty Archives

Live & On Record: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Mixing the Old With the New
By Tom Kielty
The Boston Phoenix - December 19, 2002

Wrapping up a tour in support of his latest studio album, The Last DJ (Warner Bros.), Tom Petty brought his seasoned band to the FleetCenter last Saturday to perform a set that offered a little something for everyone. And in Petty's case, "everyone" means three decades worth of fans from a wide array of socio- economic backgrounds, including the old hippies who jumped on the Petty bandwagon when he and his Heartbreakers toured as Bob Dylan's backing band and the MTV generation who helped make his psychedelic "Don't Come Around Here Anymore" single a fixture on the music-video channel throughout the '80s. This means he's one of those rare performers who's established enough to fill a venue as large as the FleetCenter without touring behind a current hit album. But it also means he has to craft a live show that can satisfy a wide range of fans.

Half Notes
By Tom Buckard
South Amboy - Sayreville Times - January 18, 2003

How about Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers latest single, "The Last Dee Jay"? It's a really good song, and sounds like something from the '60s. Word is out that lots of radio stations won't add it to their play lists because it knocks the industry, but I've been hearing it quite often on New York radio stations.

  • 2003-02-26_Gainesville-Sun

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Ex-Petty bandmate Howie Epstein dies
Gainesville Sun - February 26, 2003

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Howie Epstein, a former bass player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died of what authorities suspect was a drug overdose. He was 47.

Investigators were told Epstein had been using heroin, said Maj. Ron Madrid of the Santa Fe Sheriff's Department. Epstein was driven to St. Vincent Hospital by his girlfriend, who described him as "under distress." He died Sunday.

Epstein had been a respected musician and producer for more than 20 years. In addition to his work with Petty, he played on some of Bob Dylan's albums in the 1980s and produced a Grammy-award wining album for folk singer-songwriter John Prine called "The Missing Years."

He was singer Carlene Carter's longtime boyfriend, producing two of her albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy.

"I'm devastated," said Carter, the stepdaughter of country singer Johnny Cash and daughter of June Carter Cash. "I loved him very much. My kids thought of Howie as their father." She said they split last May.

  • 2003-03-03_Milwaukee-Journal-Sentinel

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Loved ones remember Epstein's skill, humility
By Dave Tianen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Monday, March 3, 2003

Longtime Heartbreaker mourned without celebrity fanfare
The world knew Howie Epstein as a Heartbreaker, and there was no shortage of anguish in the way he left it.

The longtime bassist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers died Feb. 23 in Santa Fe, N.M. of a suspected heroin overdose. He was only 47.

In a funeral service Sunday afternoon at Temple Menorah, 9363 N. 76th St., Epstein's family and friends acknowledged the heartbreak but remembered a man of striking talent who carried his musical gifts with unfailing modesty.

Damn the Torpedoes
By Jim DeRogatis
Chicago Sun-Times - April 13, 2003

Tom Petty has long been one of the most outspoken voices in rock, as well as a dedicated crusader to the cause of keeping concert and album prices at a reasonable level.

This week, he comes to Chicago to perform five sold-out shows in the intimate confines of the Vic Theatre, and to tape an appearance on WTTW-Channel 11's new ly revived "Soundstage" series.

During a long and spirited chat, Petty and I talked about the Vic concerts; his connections to Chicago; his controversial album, "The Last DJ"; the state of the music industry; the role of the artist, and his long and rewarding legacy of recordings.

Petty offers chestnuts, rarities
By Jim DeRogatis
Chicago Sun-Times - April 15, 2003

"I'm gonna leave you and go on up to Chicago!" Tom Petty sang, reworking the lyrics to "Baby Please Don't Go" at the Vic Theatre on Sunday.

It was an appropriate choice for the first song in the first show of a sold-out five-night stand, and not just because Petty is playing Muddy Waters' adopted hometown.

The blues classic set the tone for an ambitious two-hour, 45-minute performance, laying out Petty's plan for this special extended stay at an intimate venue.

The Vic is the Heartbreakers' laboratory and woodshed. The goal: honing a set of the material they love to listen to on the tour bus, illustrating their roots in the sounds that preceded rock 'n' roll, with the possible plan of recording them live at Chess Studio.

There was a hint of grumbling from a few of the fans around me: In a 26-song set,  Petty played only a handful of his greatest hits and concert standards. But after four decades on the road, he has certainly earned the right to indulge himself.

Petty and Co. mine their past, hint at future
By Greg Kot
Chicago Tribune - April 15, 2003

Professor Tom Petty staged a rock 'n' roll history class Sunday as he and his longtime band, the Heartbreakers, opened a five-night stand at the Vic Theatre.

Petty dipped into his back catalogue and gave a glimpse of his future with at least one newly written tune, but he devoted much of the performance to his influences, shading particularly hard toward the Chicago blues. With tickets at $50.50--well below the price commanded by Petty's peers for less-cozy arena and stadium shows--the singer has turned his sold-out residency into an event that is not only musically bold but financially reasonable. A line of ticketholders snaked south on Sheffield Avenue outside the Vic on Sunday five hours before show time. Once inside, they got more than 30 songs spread over 2 1/2 hours, including a number of tunes Petty has rarely performed in his tours.

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You don't know how it feels
By Art Bamford
Chimes - April 25, 2003

Smaller is better for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
When asked how the Heartbreakers have managed to outlast so many other bands, and continue to succeed after twenty years, lead singer Tom Petty replied, "Well we're better than they are."

This comment might sound arrogant to someone unfamiliar with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but after a five-night run at the Vic Theater last week the people of Chicago would have to agree. It's unfortunate that the better a band gets, the worse venues they have to play at.

Not just a Petty show
By Gabe Estill
The Western Courier - April 25, 2003

Regardless of popular musical trends that cause him to share the charts with generally less-talented people, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have built a career on uncompromised integrity. So it was pure Petty to emblazon his catalogue and his roots with an intimate audience, particularly in the form of a five-night run at Chicago's Vic Theater.

Though attendees paid dearly for this privilege of intimacy, the audience was treated to more than just a greatest hits set; the warmth of the occasion called for a more eclectic and roots-y show.

Providing the audience with a condensed history of blues and boogie, Petty let the opening number, John Lee Hooker's "Baby, Please Don't Go," set the tone for an evening that was as important to the artist as it was to his audience: an enjoyment that is seldom shared anymore.