Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Band Member Bios
By Teresa Couch
Steve Ferrone: Drums
Heartbreaker drummer Steve Ferrone was born April 25, 1950 in Brighton, England. Born into a musical family, he showed an immediate love for the drums. Ferrone says "he took to drums like a duck to water.” Ferrone was educated in France. At the tender age of twelve he was part of a local group opening for the Who.
Playing venues around Europe, Ferrone honed his skills until his big break came with the death of Average White Band drummer Robbie Mcintosh. He would stay with the band from 1974 until 1982. Saturday Night Live hired Ferrone on with their house band in 1985.
Touring with Duran Duran and Eric Clapton gave Ferrone the exposure he needed to break out as a superstar drummer. He then began recording with such notables as the Bee Gees, Brian May, Anita Baker, Peter Frampton, Pat Metheny and Paul Simon.
A meeting with Mike Campbell in 1995 as they played a show with George Harrison led to a gig playing on Tom Petty’s Wildflowers album. Obviously Petty must have liked Ferrone’s style, since he has had a steady gig with the Heartbreakers to date.
Source: Wikkipedia , Drummerworld Magazine
Scott Thurston: Backing Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar
Scott Thurston was born January 10, 1952 and was raised in Medford, Oregon. He was a session musician beginning around 1985 and recorded with many established stars such as Jackson Browne, The Cult, Melissa Etheridge, the Motels and Iggy Pop.
Thurston also toured with Iggy and the Stooges before joining the Heartbreakers. Thurston’s abilities did not go unnoticed by Tom Petty, who asked him to join his Touring the Great Wide Open tour in 1991.
Thurston’s talent for mastering many musical instruments made him indispensable and he secured a job as a Heartbreaker. He plays guitars, bass, dobro, ukulele, keyboards and harmonica and keyboards as needed. Thurston’s soaring harmony vocals complete the package both onstage and in the studio.
Source: Wikkipedia, Rolling Stone Magazine
Ron Blair: Bass
Ronald Edward Blair was born into a Navy family on September 16, 1948 in San Diego. His father’s tours of duty took the family around the country as well as Japan and Hong Kong.
In Japan teenager Blair was in a rock band that gained some local recognition, but the music that captured his heart led Ron to Macon, Georgia; and later Gainesville, Florida. There he joined the band RGF while attending the University of Florida.
Blair would move to Los Angeles where he played on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ first four albums. No longer wanting to deal with the rock and roll lifestyle, Blair quit the band in 1982 to open a bikini shop.
In March 2002, he re-joined the band to perform at their Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. He stayed on for the summer tour that year. Blair came in to help finish The Last DJ album. Since then, Blair has been the bass man for the group.
Source:wikkipedia, Conversations With Tom Petty by Paul Zollo
Benmont Tench: Keyboard
Benmont Tench was born September 7, 1953 in Gainesville, Florida. Fascinated by music at an early age, Tench was giving piano recitals by age six. Piano lessons would fall by the wayside for Tench when the Beatles came on the scene, and the classics gave way to rock and roll.
Tench was in college when Tom Petty’s band Mudcrutch offered an opportunity to sit in for a few concerts, which he did. Then he dutifully went back to school. Petty asked him to join Mudcrutch, and he finally agreed.
Mudcrutch would split up before an album could be recorded, and Tench briefly considered forming his own band. But Petty had a record contract and wanted him back. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers officially formed in 1976 and Tench was there.
In his thirty years as a Heartbreaker Tench has been a desired session musician, playing with such greats as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Hall and Oates, the Rolling Stones and Ringo Starr. Tench has played on all 13 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers albums.
Source: Wikkipedia, AOL music
Mike Campbell: Lead Guitar
Born on February 1, 1950 in Panama City, Florida, Michael Wayne Campbell graduated high school in 1968 and bought a guitar. Proving to be an uber-talent, Campbell decided to form a band called Dead or Alive which was quickly dead.
Campbell met Tom Petty when Mudcrutch keyboardist Benmont Tench suggested using two guitarists. He made the move to Los Angeles and when Mudcrutch’s record deal fell through joined with Petty to form the original Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The multi-talented Campbell has also written and produced for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as well as other artists, including Don Henley, Johhny Cash, Fleetwood Mac and Roy Orbison. In his 30 years as a Heartbreaker Campbell has played almost anything that has strings while recording. He also plays accordion and harmonica, and has been known to sing on at least one Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song.
Campbell has his own side band, the Dirty Knobs.
Source: Wikkipedia, Conversations with Tom Petty by Paul Zollo
Tom Petty: Vocals, Guitar
Thomas Earl Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950. At the age of 11 his uncle took him to the Ocala set of a movie Elvis was filming. After seeing the attention Elvis was getting young Petty thought “that was a great job—being Elvis.” But any dreams of fame would have to wait until the Beatles came onto the scene.
With the onset of self-contained musical groups Petty finally saw a way out of Gainesville. He played with several local bands, among them the Sundowners and the Epics. They worked steadily for such young kids, playing dances at the University of Florida and clubs in the area.
Petty formed Mudcrutch along with other Gainesville muscians and began touring the south. But Los Angeles beckoned, and Petty moved there and secured a record deal for Mudcrutch with Shelter records. The deal would be shelved. Not wanting to proceed as a solo artist Petty approached other members of Mudcrutch to form a new band, which he wanted to name The King Bees.
The name, however, would end up being Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty insisted on top billing because “I had done all this work with Mudcrutch and now nobody knows who I am.”
The band would go on to release hit-filled albums such as Damn the Torpedoes and Hard Promises. World tours followed, including one that lasted almost two years backing Bob Dylan. That would introduce Petty to a world of new friends and musical influences.
In 1988 Petty was one of the founding members of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. With buddies George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison Petty would enjoy one of the fulfilling times in his musical career. The Traveling Wilburys released two albums, one after Orbison’s death with just the remaining four.
It was in 1989 Petty asked Jeff Lynne to produce a solo album for him. The smash Full Moon Fever was the result. Petty would go on to work with many of his idols, including Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins.
The 1990s brought more hit albums and massive tours for Petty. The turn of the century brought more touring, more recording. In the coming decade Petty would try his hand at acting, appearing in the films The Postman and Made In Heaven.
In 2002 Petty appeared in a Simpson’s episode, “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation.” In 2004 he began what would turn into a long-running job providing the voice of Lucky on “King of the Hill.” Petty ran down another dream when he scored his own show-- “Buried Treasure” – on XM radio, playing his favorites from his own CD collection.
In 2006 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers celebrated 30 years together, marking the event with a homecoming concert in Gainesville. Recently the documentary and book “Running Down a Dream” was released chronicling his amazing career.
Petty is now awaiting his band’s appearance at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona on February 3, 2008. A new Mudcrutch album and a new Heartbreakers album are coming up soon.
Source: Wikipedia, Conversations with Tom Petty by Paul Zollo, Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty, TomPetty.com