Posts Tagged ‘The Heartbreakers’

Johnny Thunders & Wayne KramerJohnny Thunders & Wayne KramerJohnny Thunders & Wayne KramerFreudlp076

The New York Dolls & MC5 guitarists collaboration! with Wayne Kramer, It’s the first time on vinyl; in a limited edition in dark red & dark yellow coloured vinyl, on 2xLP with five bonus ‘Live at Max’s’ tracks only previously available on bootleg. Johnny Thunders & Wayne Kramer’s ‘Gang War’ In 1979, Johnny Thunders, renowned band Heartbreakers and New York Dolls guitarist, teamed up with Wayne Kramer, also legendary guitarist of Detroit’s seminal MC5, to form ‘Gang War’, an alliance that lasted the best part of a year. Although Gang War released no records and without a label – at the time they were an underground act; in retrospect the collaboration is looked on as a ‘rock fantasy’ supergroup.

These live recordings bear testimony to this unique partnership between two celebrated rock guitar icons. Gang War came about shortly after Johnny released his ‘So Alone’ album, and Wayne was not long out of jail after serving two years of a sentence of four years for a coke bust. Arriving in Detroit with the Heartbreakers, Johnny met his teenage idol Wayne who jammed with them at the gig. Johnny stayed on, moving his family to Michigan and pledging his future to Gang War. They toured regularly and recorded a couple of demos with a view to getting a deal, but although there was great interest, after eight or nine months they split. On these recordings, both contribute lead vocals and guitars on Thunders and the Dolls tracks such as London Boys, Endless Party and M.I.A.; songs familiar from Kramer and MC5 such as Ramblin’ Rose and Hey Thanks, and fascinating cover versions such as These Boots Are Made For Walking and The Harder They Come.

Together with the between-track repartee they also demonstrate the difference between the two – as Wayne Kramer has said: “Music is important to me and I value the honour, the opportunity, to be an important musician. Johnny, on the other hand didn’t consider himself a musician. He considered himself an entertainer.”

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Richard Hell and the Voidoids “Blank Generation” (1977) anthemic track, Led by former Television bassist Richard Hell (Lester), the Voidoids were an interesting take on punk rock. Sounding like a more aggressive version of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, they played high energy songs with exuberant vocals by Hell. Not a good singer or bassist by conventional standards, he was still able to communicate emotion, albeit through a nihilistic viewpoint. The songs have interesting arrangements, and don’t sound like other punk bands. The band consisting of Richard Hell – Bass, vocals, Ivan Julian – Rhythm guitar, Robert Quine – Lead guitar, Marc Bell – Drums.

Richard Hell is all over this story, passing through Television and the Heartbreakers before arriving at the Voidoids. He mastered the art of thrift store finery, pairing numb, nihilistic cool with spiked hair and safety-pin piercings. “Blank Generation,” caught here at CBGB in 1978 features a future Ramone Marky (still Marc Bell) behind the drums.

A short clip from the movie Blank Generation made in (1980), featuring Richard Hell and the Voidoids playing the theme song Blank Generation at the legendary punk club CBGB. Directed by Ulli Lommel, produced by Andy Warhol.  The band were formed in New York City in 1976 and fronted by Richard Hell, who had been a former member of the Neon Boys, Television and the Heartbreakers.

Richard Meyers moved to New York City after dropping out of high school in 1966, aspiring to become a poet. There he hoped he would be able start a career as a poet and immerse himself in the rich art community of the city. In his career as a poet he managed to get some of his works published in places like Rolling Stone and the New Directions’ Annuals. He also started his own
publishing imprints, Genesis: Grasp and then later Dot Books. He had little success as a poet, his imprints ultimately couldn’t be sustained and he ultimately cooled on his poetic aspirations.

He and his best friend from high school, Along with Tom Miller, founded the rock band the Neon Boys Their first group was it was a short lived group that produced only two
four-track studio recordings which became Television in 1973. The pair adopted stage names; Miller called himself Verlaine after Paul Verlaine, a French poet he admired, and Meyers became Richard Hell because, as he has said, it described his condition. Television received a good deal of hype in the New York music scene, with good write-ups in the Soho Weekly News, by Patti Smith, who was then sometimes working as a rock journalist, among others. Television was the first group on the New York scene to play at the Bowery club CBGB, which quickly became the epicenter of the emerging punk rock. There is both audio and video of the band while Hell remained, but nothing was officially released.

The group was the first rock band to play the club CBGB, which soon became a breeding ground for the early punk rock scene in New York.  Hell had an energetic stage presence and wore torn clothing held together with safety pins and his hair spiked, which was to be influential in punk fashion in 1975, after a failed management deal with the New York Dolls, impresario Malcolm McLaren brought these ideas back with him to England and eventually incorporated them into the Sex Pistols’ image.

Disputes with Verlaine led to Hell’s departure from Television in 1975, and he co-founded the Heartbreakers with New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan They were a super-group of sorts on the New York scene. Expectations for the new group were high and initial performances were met with criticism. In the group Hell faced many of the same issues of songwriting and singing that he had withTelevision, and the heroin problems of Hell, Thunders, and Nolan were mutually destructive. Hell eventually quit the Heartbreakers after a year, again before the group got into the studio to record an album. Live material featuring Hell exists, but was not officially released until years later.

Hell did not last long with this band, and he began recruiting members for a new band. For guitarists, Hell found Robert Quine and Ivan JulianQuine had worked in a bookstore with Hell, and Julian responded to an advertisement in The Village Voice. They lifted drummer Marc Bell, later Marky Ramone, from Wayne County. The band was named “the Voidoids” after a novel Hell had been writing.[

Musically, Hell drew inspiration from acts such as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, protopunk band the Stooges and fellow New Yorker group the Velvet Underground, a group with a reputation for heroin-fuelled rock and roll with poetic lyrics. Quine’s admiration of the Velvet Underground led him to make hours’ worth of bootleg recordings of the band in the late 1960s.[citation needed] Hell also drew from and covered garage rock bands such as the Seeds and the Count Five that were found on the Nuggets compilation of 1972.[7] The Voidoids’ music was also characterized as art punk.#

Hell had written the song “Blank Generation” while still in Television; he had played it regularly with the band since at least 1975, and later with the Heartbreakers. The Voidoids released a 7″ Blank Generation EP in 1976 on Ork Records[ including “Blank Generation”, “Another World” and “You Gotta Lose”. The cover featured a black-and-white cover photo taken by Hell’s former girlfriend Roberta Bayley, depicting a bare-chested Hell with an open jeans zipper.  It was an underground hit, and the band signed to Sire Records for its album debut.

The Voidoids original lineup. Marc Bell (aka Marky Ramone), Ivan Julian, Robert Quine (later in the Lou Reed band), and Richard Hell (previously in the Heartbreakers and Television).

She's the One

When asked for a song to include in writer-director Edward Burns‘ romantic comedy She’s The One,  Tom Petty responded with an entire album. Though nominally a film soundtrack, the Warner Bros. collection stands proudly with the singer-songwriter’s best work of the 1990s. Cut with producer Rick Rubin and the ever-reliable Heartbreakers, Songs and music from “SHE’S THE ONE” has a relaxed feel and eclectic mix of material (including Beck and Lucinda Williams covers) that give the impression Petty was really enjoying himself. Which doesn’t mean his customary craftsmanship is absent; the dozen originals include such terrific songs as “Climb That Hill” and single “Walls (Circus),” which features guest vocals from Lindsey Buckingham. Released in 1996, SHE’S THE ONE is an album sometimes forgotten but well worth rediscovering.

The album was not mentioned on the four-hour documentary Runnin’ Down a Dream, though Petty could be seen doing a studio session of the song “Angel Dream (No. 4)”.

Some songs were originally recorded for Wildflowers and were put on this album to fill it out. When In April 2015, when Tom Petty’s back catalog was released in High-resolution audio, this was one of only two albums not included in the series (the other being Wildflowers).

There are two songs on the disc that Petty chose to record and release in two different versions. The first is Walls which kicks off the album with its Beatles- and Byrds-inspired psychedelic version, aptly titled Walls (Circus). The version appearing later in the disc is more barren and Dylan-esque in nature. The second song to appear twice is Angel Dream. Both versions borrow a page from the Simon and Garfunkel book. The first to appear is more like the Bridge over Troubled Water era, while the later version borrows from the Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. era. One of my favorites on this disc is Hung Up and Overdue which borrows heavily from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album.

Most notable on this disc is Petty’s merging into a pattern similar to Neil Young’s. His Heartbreakers are like Young’s Crazy Horse, and his sound blends from solitary acoustic music to all-out feedback-laden rockers. It certainly keeps things fresh with the stark contrast between the styles and seems to fit Petty as well as it fits Young.

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American Treasure, is a 60-track box set featuring previously unreleased live and studio material from Tom Petty, will be released on September. 28th. The songs on the collection are reportedly drawn from all phases of Petty’s career with his longtime band the Heartbreakers.

Full details including a complete track list are expected to be announced soon. The news was revealed today on Petty’s SiriusXM radio station, along with the debut of the first track from the box set, 1982’s previously unreleased “Keep a Little Soul.” American Treasure was reportedly compiled by Petty’s daughter Adria, his wife Dana, Heartbreakers guitarist and keyboardist Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench and “studio collaborator” Ryan Ulate.

After the countdown clock emerged this morning, many fans speculated that the news would be concerning the release of a double album version of Petty’s 1994 record Wildflowers. He had originally intended for the album, his second solo effort, to be a double album, but, at Warner Bros. request, he scaled it back to a single disc.

In 2014, it was reported that a set expected to be called Wildflowers: All the Rest, that restored the complete track list, was in the works to coincide with the album’s 20th anniversary. Only the song “Somewhere Under Heaven” has officially surfaced, appearing during the closing credits of the Entourage movie.

He was planning to support the release with a unique tour. “I want to take the Heartbreakers and whoever else I need to reproduce every sound in a big way,” he had said. “That album was really about sound in a big way. I would like to go out there and perform the entire album as it was originally conceived with all of the songs.”

“That would have been smaller-scale, away from the hits,” guitarist Mike Campbell later added. But he said that the plan, to which Norah Jones had signed on, was scrapped in favor of a career-spanning trek to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers. Unfortunately, Petty died a week after the last date of the tour, a September. 25th show at the Hollywood Bowl.

Tom Petty‘s family and former collaborators compiled the four-CD box set of previously unreleased material by Petty and the Heartbreakers, for release on September 28th, SiriusXM announced. The release, called An American Treasure, marks the first posthumous album of Petty material since his death in October. The SiriusXM broadcast debuted a clip from one of the unreleased songs from 1982 called “Keep a Little Soul.”

An American Treasurewill contain previously unreleased studio recordings, live recordings, deep cuts and alternate versions of popular Petty songs,. The collection will encompass 60 tracks in total. A less expensive two-CD set will also be available for purchase.

Petty was as prolific as he was talented. During the Eighties and Nineties, he released albums at a rapid pace. His studio productivity dipped slightly in the new millennium, when he put out an album roughly every four years. The last album Petty released under his own name was 2014’s Hypnotic Eye. He also contributed to 2016’s Mudcrutch 2 with members of his pre-Heartbreakers band.

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Petty was found unconscious at his home in Malibu on October 2nd, 2017. He was taken to the hospital and put temporarily on life support. He died hours later.

In January, a medical examiner ruled that the singer died of an accidental overdose. Petty had been prescribed drugs to treat emphysema, knee issues and a fractured hip, according to a statement from his family. “On the day he died, he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break,” Dana and Adria wrote. “It is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his overuse of medication.”

After we lost the iconic rocker Tom Petty. The 66-year-old died of cardiac arrest. In his memory, a new tribute collection called “An American Treasure” features previously unheard recording and live performances. Anthony Mason spoke to Petty’s daughter, Adria, in her first TV interview since her father’s death.

1              Surrender           Previously unreleased track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sessions-1976
2              Listen To Her Heart         Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA-November 11, 1977
3              Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll      Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA-November 11, 1977
4              When The Time ComesAlbum track from You’re Gonna Get It!-May 2, 1978
5              You’re Gonna Get It       Alternate version featuring strings from You’re Gonna Get It! sessions-1978
6              Radio Promotion Spot    1977
7              Rockin’ Around (With You)          Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -November 9, 1976
8              Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)       Alternate version from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-1976
9              Breakdown         Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA-November 11, 1977
10           The Wild One, Forever  Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-November 9, 1976
11           No Second Thoughts      Album track from You’re Gonna Get It!-May 2, 1978
12           Here Comes My Girl       Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions-1979
13           What Are You Doing In My Life  Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions-1979
14           Louisiana Rain    Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions-1979
15           Lost In Your Eyes              Previously unreleased single from Mudcrutch sessions-1974
CD 2
1              Keep A Little Soul             Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions-1982
2              Even The Losers               Live at Rochester Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY-1989
3              Keeping Me Alive            Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions-1982
4              Don’t Treat Me Like A Stranger  B-side to UK single of “I Won’t Back Down”-April, 1989
5              The Apartment Song      Demo recording (with Stevie Nicks)-1984
6              Concert Intro     Live introduction by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
7              King’s Road         Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
8              Clear The Aisles                Live concert announcement by Tom Petty, The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
9              A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA-June 28, 1981
10           Straight Into Darkness   Alternate version from The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA-May 5, 1982
11           You Can Still Change Your MindAlbum track from Hard Promises-May 5, 1981
12           Rebels  Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions-1985
13           Deliver Me          Alternate version from Long After Dark sessions-1982
14           Alright For Now                Album track from Full Moon Fever-April 24, 1989
15           The Damage You’ve Done            Alternate version from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) sessions-1987
16           The Best Of Everything  Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions-March 26, 1985
17           Walkin’ From The Fire    Previously unreleased track from Southern Accents sessions-March 1, 1984
18           King Of The Hill  Early take (with Roger McGuinn)-November 23, 1987
CD 3
1              I Won’t Back Down          Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA-February 4, 1997
2              Gainesville          Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions-February 12, 1998
3              You And I Will Meet Again            Album track from Into The Great Wide Open-July 2, 1991
4              Into The Great Wide Open          Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena-November 24, 1991
5              Two Gunslingers              Live at The Beacon Theatre, New York, NY-May 25, 2013
6              Lonesome Dave               Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers sessions-July 23, 1993
7              To Find A Friend               Album track from Wildflowers-November 1, 1994
8              Crawling Back To You      Album track from Wildflowers-November 1, 1994
9              Wake Up Time  Previously unreleased track from early Wildflowers sessions-August 12, 1992
10           Grew Up Fast    Album track from Songs and Music from “She’s the One”-August 6, 1996
11           I Don’t Belong   Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions-December 3, 1998
12           Accused Of Love              Album track from Echo-April 13, 1999
13           Lonesome Sundown      Album track from Echo-April 13, 1999
14           Don’t Fade On Me           Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers-sessions-April 20, 1994
CD 4
1              You And Me       Clubhouse version-November 9, 2007
2              Have Love Will Travel     Album track from The Last DJ-October 8, 2002
3              Money Becomes King    Album track from The Last DJ-October 8, 2002
4              Bus To Tampa Bay            Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions-August 11, 2011
5              Saving Grace      Live at Malibu Performing Arts Center, Malibu, CA-June 16, 2006
6              Down South       Album track from Highway Companion-July 25, 2006
7              Southern Accents            Live at Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL-September 21, 2006
8              Insider  Live (with Stevie Nicks) at O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL-September 21, 2006
9              Two Men Talking              Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions-November 16, 2012
10           Fault Lines           Album track from Hypnotic Eye-July 29, 2014
11           Sins Of My Youth             Early take from Hypnotic Eye sessions-November 12, 2012
12           Good Enough    Alternate version from Mojo sessions-2012
13           Something Good Coming             Album track from Mojo-July 15, 2010
14           Save Your Water              Album track from Mudcrutch 2-May 20, 2016
15           Like A DiamondAlternate version from The Last DJ sessions-2002
16           Hungry No More              Live at House of Blues, Boston, MA-June 15, 2016

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Although Johnny Thunders legacy remains underground, there are no end of ‘Top 10..’ listed artists who name check the New York Doll / Heartbreaker as a major influence. His musical legacy has outstripped any empirical chart statistic. His most fertile and unparalled contributions were made in the 1970s, when his songs became a lifelong soundtrack for fans, and his emblematic guitar style bonded with his charisma and thrift couture to influence peers and generations thereafter. Between January and June 1978 Johnny enrolled producer Steve Lillywhite and recorded a wealth of material which contributed to his first solo album ‘So Alone’. To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the album Johnny self proclaimed as the best album he ever made, Remarquable Records is releasing a special companion to add further insight to that creative period and showcase a bedevilled artist supported by an unrepeatable cast of friends and musicians which allowed Johnny more time and more control in the studio than he ever had in his truncated life. Consisting of previously unreleased studio recordings ‘So Alonesome’ is an essential sibling to ‘So Alone’. Featured msuicians include Steve Jones & Paul Cook (Sex Pistols); Peter Perrett & Mike Kellie (The Only Ones); Paul Gray & Steve Nicol (Eddie & The Hot Rods); Walter Lure & Billy Rath (Heartbreakers); Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy); Steve Marriott (Small Faces/Humble Pie); John ‘Irish’ Earle (Thin Lizzy); Chris Wood (Traffic); Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders) & Patti Palladin (Snatch).

tracklist: 
Pipeline (Alternate Mix); Dead Or Alive? (Alternate Mix); (Give Her A) Great Big Kiss (single version 2015 mix); Leave Me Alone (Hot Ones Version); So Alone (Heartbreakers Version); Daddy Rollin’ Stone (Thin Ones Version); London Boys (Alternate Mix); (She’s So) Untouchable (Early Version); Subway Train (Basic track – Early Versions); The Wizard (Full Length Version-2015 Mix)

johnny thunders

He was the New York Doll-turned-junkie poster boy who had it all – and threw it away. Even many years after his death, the friends, lovers and people who knew him best reveal the man behind the myth.

April 29th, 1991. A leaden grey sky hangs oppressively over St. Anastasia’s Roman Catholic Church on 245th St, Queens, as friends and lovers, united in grief, gather to pay their final respects to John Genzale; husband, brother, son and father. Mariann Bracken has lost the prodigal kid brother she’d introduced to the New York City melodramas of the Shangri-Las when he was just a fresh-faced altar boy. Leee Black Childers is inconsolable – the former manager of the deceased fainted when informed of his death – unable to imagine life without the man he was “totally” in love with. Susanne Blomqvist, only now realising the true depth of sacrifice her life partner made when he walked out of the home they shared with their infant daughter for the last time, absently registers the names on the cards of the numerous floral tributes piled on the back of a black El Camino: Deborah Harry, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith – a stark reminder of Genzale’s other life, the one that always seemed to get in the way of their ephemeral moments of domestic bliss.

Johnny Thunders’s story is so steeped in doomed glamour and junkie mythology that somewhere along the line the man that was John Anthony Genzale has been lost in the telling, but to know one you have to know the other. Born in the middle-class Jackson Heights area of Queens on July 15, 1952, the boy who would be Thunders was irrevocably shaped in infancy by the departure of his father Emil Genzale. A serial womaniser of no little prowess, Genzale Sr ultimately chose swordsmanship over fatherhood, leaving little Johnny to be brought up by his mother Josephine and doting elder sister Mariann.

Haunted by rejection in his formative years, yet indulged by his matriarchal Italian upbringing, the young Genzale grew up spoiled but unsatisfied. Initially infatuated by baseball, he finally found a focus for his adolescent anger and angst in the perpetual soundtrack of Brill Building rock’n’roll drifting across the hall from his sister’s Dansette; shrill, urban dramas of switchblade romance and leather-clad Lotharios, delivered by keening teenage girls teetering on the brink of hysteria.

As Genzale matured he developed musical tastes that reflected his self-image. A born dandy with a taste for the urban blues, haphazard ebony locks, and a rebellious streak the width of Broadway, it was inevitable that he should come to idolise Keith Richards. Entranced by rock’n’roll, Genzale made the leap from observer to protagonist in his mid-teens.

“Me and my cousin Janis used to go to the Fillmore East every Saturday,” his childhood friend Gail Higgins remembers. “Johnny and his friends would be on one side of the room, and we’d be on the other, staring at each other.”

The 16-year old Johnny and Janis eventually started dating. They rented an apartment on New York’s First Avenue, where Johnny took up the bass. They caught shows by The Who, The Hollies and Small Faces, they drank beer with Rod Stewart backstage at the Newport Folk Festival, and Johnny was even captured on film gazing in awe at Keith from the front row of Madison Square Garden in the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. In 1969 they travelled to London to sample the scene. But it was the sound of Detroit that particularly struck a chord with Johnny.

“We would drive eight hours to see the MC5 or The Stooges,” Gail attests. It wasn’t long before Johnny abandoned the bass and set about learning the guitar. “Whenever he was practising, I used to yell into the bedroom: ‘Give up, Johnny’,” says Higgins.

Never one to blend into his surroundings, Johnny always stood out from the crowd: long, spiky hair, and a penchant for borrowing his girlfriend’s clothes. His style was extreme. “He had high-heeled boots, velvet jackets and pants, bowling gear,” says Heartbreaker Walter Lure. “I’d see him at all the shows – mostly the British bands, as opposed to the Grateful Deads and Jefferson Airplanes – so I’d seen him around for years. Then when the Dolls started happening I said: ‘Holy shit! There’s that guy.’”

Looking For Johnny, The Legend of Johnny Thunders.

Directed by Danny Garcia (The Rise and Fall of The Clash), Looking For Johnny is the definitive documentary on New York legendary guitar

It’s about an hour before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre for what may be the last time. Backstage, Petty is in his dressing room putting on a frontier rebel’s headdress to fight the chill. Keyboardist Benmont Tench is tweeting about the sad state of our country under Donald Trump. Bassist Ron Blair has battled stage fright for years since rejoining the Heartbreakers in 2002, after a 20-year sanity break. He wanders into Tom Petty’s dressing room and cops to something you’re not likely to admit to your bandleader unless you’ve known him for 40 years. “I’m kinda nervous, you know,” says Blair in a quiet voice.

Petty rarely describes himself as the leader of his band, but as “the older brother they sometimes have to listen to.” Tonight, he gives Blair some fatherly assurance and a toothy Southern smile: “Let me be nervous for you.”

The band takes the stage and blows through “Rockin’ Around (With You),” the first song on its self-titled first album, from 1976. Petty ends the next few songs strumming in front of the drum set, trading man-crush smiles with drummer Steve Ferrone (Tench jokes, “They should get a room”). Petty even grins through a joyous version of “Walls,” from 1996’s She’s the Onean album he’s complained about for nearly 20 years.

And then there’s a flash of lightning. Rain pours down. The Heartbreakers are shooed into the catacombs of Red Rocks, and 9,000 fans head for cover.

As the bandmates wait out the rain, Petty asks if they want to add their 1999 song “Swingin'” to the second half of the set. Everyone agrees: They do. The Heartbreakers aren’t a democracy, but more of a benevolent dictatorship. This is true when it comes to the set list. “We can make suggestions,” says Tench with a wry smile. “Sometimes they’re even accepted.”

After 20 minutes, the Heartbreakers retake the stage. They play “Swingin’,” which has a chorus where Petty lists icons who “went down swinging,” including Sonny Liston and Sammy Davis. Tench, who sings with Petty on the song, switches it up. Epstein provided the beautiful high harmonies on the record, so Tench sneaks in a tribute to his departed friend: “He went down swingin’/Just like Howie Epstein.”

Petty is supposed to do some acoustic numbers from Wildflowers, his 1994 solo album. There’s just one problem: His guitar is dead, soaked by the rain. There’s confusion and uncertainty on the band mates’ faces for a moment, like it’s a 1975 show at a honky-tonk in Gainesville. Then Petty and Campbell shout across the stage, “Ben, play something!”

Tench, the best keyboardist in American rock, breaks into a pastiche of boogie-woogie, a homage to pianist Pete Johnson. The group chimes in, not quite in sync, until Petty switches to Chuck Berry’s “Carol.” The Heartbreakers fall in line, sounding like the best bar band you don’t want to tell your friends about.

They encore with “American Girl.” The bandmates take a bow, wiping sweat and rain off their faces. Everyone exits, but Petty seems reluctant to leave. He takes a few steps toward the front of the stage and gives a last wave.

One word Petty and the band never mention: retirement. Petty still goes into his Malibu home office to write songs  right across from his home studio. He’s mostly a homebody, rarely even venturing the 45 minutes into Los Angeles unless it’s to see his two daughters and his young granddaughter. There was a Mudcrutch tour last year and a turn producing a record for former Byrds bassist Chris Hillman. The Heartbreakers will record again and play live in some capacity. After 40 years, it would be surprising if there weren’t a few regrets. “Howie should’ve gotten some lead on a record,” Tench says of Epstein. “He should’ve produced a record for the Heartbreakers. I would’ve loved that.” Then he shrugs. “But I’m not in charge.”

There’s been a valedictory feel to the Heartbreakers‘ 40th-anniversary tour, which Petty says is the band’s final country-spanning run – the “last big one.” Everyone else is a bit skeptical. “I’ve been hearing that for 15 years,” says guitarist and original Heartbreaker Mike Campbell. “We’ll see.”

The crowds are still there, something Petty is clearly proud of when we sit down in a hotel room on an off day. To be honest, he looks more jittery offstage than on. This may be because he is chain-smoking, alternating between Marlboros and vaping, perhaps as a concession to the Denver Ritz-Carlton’s smoking policy.

Petty says sleep is now his friend. “I need a new Netflix show, does anyone have any suggestions?” he asks just before his assistant ducks out of the room. Someone suggests Bloodlinea noirish series set in his native Florida.

Petty is defiant about the hyper pace of the tour, which hits 30 cities this spring and summer. “Unless you’ve done it, you can’t understand what it is,” says Petty, brushing his scarecrow hair out of his face. “And if you’re not really experienced, you will fall.”

What keeps the Heartbreakers together is simple: The band has been their life since 1976.  Benjamin Montmorency Tench III, was a prep-school kid and piano prodigy. Tench wears suits and went to Exeter, but he’s the fiery one. In the Peter Bogdanovich documentary on the Heartbreakers, 2007’s Runnin’ Down a Dream, Tench can be heard screaming at his bandmates to take things seriously. His nickname is Mad Dog. When Tench used to go on one of his tirades, a roadie would slide a dog bowl of water under his piano.

Petty, Campbell and 
Tench formed the nucleus of the band Mudcrutch,
which morphed into the
 Heartbreakers in 1976,
 after adding San Diego native Blair on bass and 
Stan Lynch on drums.
 Blair fried out and
 bailed in 1982. He opened a bikini shop in the Valley and was replaced by Howie Epstein, but the band loomed in his subconscious. “I’d dream I’d be walking to the stage, and be like, ‘I don’t know “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,”‘ recalls Blair. “I had half a dozen of those nightmares, so I started learning those songs so I could get a night’s sleep.”

This proved fortuitous when Epstein died of heroin-related complications in 2003. “I don’t think the band continues without Ron,” Tench tells me. “Bringing in someone new wouldn’t have worked.”

“About 20 years ago, we stopped doing soundchecks,” says Petty. “It eats up the whole day and we’d argue, and then you’d come back and the sound would be completely different with a crowd.”

The other game-changer was Dylan. By 1986, the band had toured relentlessly for a decade. Off the road, everyone was a mess – some members dealing with substance issues, some just dealing with real life. “The road and the studio are the only places I’ve ever felt completely OK,” says Petty, lighting another Marlboro. “In any other life situation I’m terribly retarded.” Petty got a call from Dylan asking if the band would back him on a tour. Petty raced out a “hell, yes.” Watching footage, you can see him smiling his head off, ecstatic to not be leading the show. The experience taught him how to be in the Heartbreakers, not just lead them. “That’s when we learned how to really be a band,” says Petty.

 

One word Petty and the band never mention: retirement. Petty still goes into his Malibu home office to write songs  right across from his home studio. He’s mostly a homebody, rarely even venturing the 45 minutes into Los Angeles unless it’s to see his two daughters and his young granddaughter. There was a Mudcrutch tour last year and a turn producing a record for former Byrds bassist Chris Hillman. The Heartbreakers will record again and play live in some capacity. After 40 years, it would be surprising if there weren’t a few regrets. “Howie should’ve gotten some lead on a record,” Tench says of Epstein. “He should’ve produced a record for the Heartbreakers. I would’ve loved that.” Then he shrugs. “But I’m not in charge.”

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Writing a great song is tricky enough, but writing a standout duet is an even more difficult bit of business than that. After all, you have to make room for two contrasting perspectives without pulling the song apart at the seams in the process. And, since the majority of duets are inter-gender, you have to be able to write believably for the opposite sex.

Most people would agree that Tom Petty pulled off one of the great duets in rock history when he penned “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and joined Stevie Nicks on the justly celebrated recording. The only problem with that story is that the song wasn’t meant to be a duet at all.

As Petty recalled to author Paul Zollo in the book Conversations With Tom Petty, the Fleetwood Mac chanteuse was enamored with his music and wanted him to write a song for her. “Stevie came to me around ’78,” he said. “And she was this absolutely stoned-gone, huge fan. And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song. And we were a little wary of Stevie. We didn’t quite know whether to like Stevie or not, because we kind of saw this big corporate rock band, Fleetwood Mac, which was wrong, they were actually artistic people. But in those days, nobody trusted that sort of thing and we just kept thinking, ‘What does she want from us?’”

Nicks was persistent and Petty eventually attempted a song for Nicks to be included on her first solo album. He wrote a ballad called “Insider,” but when the two sang it together, Petty liked it so much he decided to keep it for himself. He included it on The Heartbreakers’ 1981 album Hard Promises, even using a line from the song to give the album its name.

At the time that this was occurring, Jimmy Iovine, who was Petty’s producer and also was lined up to produce Nicks’ album Bella Donna, asked Tom about another song from the Hard Promises sessions with lyrics by Petty and music by Heartbreaker guitarist Mike Campbell. The Heartbreakers (with Donald “Duck” Dunn filling in for the band’s usual bassist Ron Blair) had finished “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” right down to Petty’s lead vocal, but Iovine persuaded him to give this track to Nicks after he had taken “Insider” back.

As a result, what you hear in the recording that became a #3 Billboard hit in 1981 is Nicks singing on top of the Heartbreakers recording. In the verses, Petty’s vocals, with the exception of a couple lines, were wiped away to make room for Nicks. To keep up the appearance of a duet, Nicks sang with Petty’s vocal in the refrain, actually taking the high harmony part since Petty already had the main vocal line covered.

The funny thing is that the song works better as a duet. It’s got a typically sturdy Heartbreakers foundation, featuring Campbell’s moaning guitar and Benmont Tench’s creeping keyboard. Nicks is right at home in this bluesy backdrop, imbuing Petty’s conversational lyrics with oodles of fiery attitude and a tinge of genuine hurt. “This doesn’t have to be the big get even,” she warns the guy who comes “knocking on my front door” with the “same old line.” “It doesn’t have to be anything at all.”

Having Nicks take the lead puts an interesting spin on the cautionary lines from the final verses (“Make a meal of some bright-eyed kid/ You need someone looking after you.”) Normally this would be the thing that the older guy would say to the young girl, maybe even in condescending fashion. Since it’s the woman making that statement, it levels the playing field. The guy is reduced to telling her that he’s onto the fact that, though she might be protesting at the moment, she’s the one who’s making the decision to leave: “I know you really want to tell me goodbye/ I know you really want to be your own girl.”

Petty’s lyrics are stinging and evocative in the run up to the refrain: “Baby you could never look me in the eye/ Yeah you buckle with the weight of the words.” The play on the phrase “weight of the world” is telling, because that’s the kind of pressure this fading relationship seems to be exerting on the principals. It all leads up to the title’s desperate plea for mercy, Petty and Nicks both going to the top of their registers to highlight the urgency, “Stop draggin’ my/ Stop draggin’ my/ Stop draggin’ my heart around.”

There are so many tantalizing hypothetical scenarios here. Would Petty’s solo vocal take have become quite as big a hit? Would Nicks have taken the intensely personal “Insider” and made it universal as well? As always, fate has the final answer. And the answer is that, to reach its full potential, “Stop Draggin My Heart Around” simply needed two to tango.

THREE DISC BROADCAST COLLECTION DISC 1 – The Coliseum, Jacksonville, FL, 24th July 1987

DISC TWO Deans Dome, Chapel Hill, NC, 13th September 1989 DISC 3 – RARE TV BROADCASTS 1978 – 1994

This three disc set adds to Tom Petty’s body of work by making available in one collection these broadcast recordings from the live canon of one of Pop & Rock music’s most respected and successful performers

His first album hit the streets in 1976 and initially its arrival caused few heads to turn. Music fans were confused; were these a bunch of punks or 1960s revivalists with a liking for Gene Clark era Byrds? Fortunately, as is so often the case, the UK seemed to ‘get it’ pretty soon after the record s release there and it reached #24 on the British chart. News traveled West, and a full year after the home turf release Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers entered the Billboard chart. Shortly thereafter second album You’re Gonna Get It! was released, and became a hit right away. The rest, as they say, is history. But it s relatively recent history about which any number of books, films and of course superlative albums are readily available for students of this remarkable performer to delve into. What a fantastic release! Three CDs of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers live and at their very best. Good sound quality and some of their best material

Heartbreakers Max's Kansas City RSD LP

A Record Store Day release on multi-coloured vinyl of the classic live album, with the rarely heard Volume 2 added for the first time on vinyl.

Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan formed the Heartbreakers out of the ashes of the New York Dolls in 1975.  Gaining infamy in London touring with the Sex Pistols on the Anarchy tour of ’76, they went on to produce just one album, the classic L.A.M.F. in 1977.

The Heartbreakers split up When Track Records folded early in 1978.  But in the fall of ’78, Johnny Thunders,Billy Rath and Walter Lure found themselves in New York and decided to do a couple of gigs for ‘old times sake’ and some ‘chump change’. Jerry had moved on to play with The Idols and Sid Vicious, so they got together with drummer Ty Styx for some farewell gigs at Max’s Kansas City.  The resulting album was issued in 1979 on Max’s Kansas City Records in the US and Beggars Banquet in the UK.

It sold well, so Max’s Tommy Dean and Peter Crowley decided to record a Volume 2. A long weekend of shows was booked, this time with original drummer Jerry Nolan, but ‘chemical imbalances’ ruined all but half of the last show.  Beggars turned down the tapes, and Volume 2 remained unreleased, appearing only briefly on CD in the mid-90’s.  

Now for the first time, both volumes are brought together on double-vinyl, in a Record Store Day release of limited, spattered red, yellow & black double vinyl.  Disc 1 is the original 1978 live album and Disc 2 is Volume 2 recorded 1979 but unreleased until 1995 and never before on vinyl.  The album comes in a gatefold sleeve with the original artwork, together with an insert with notes by Johnny Thunders’ biographer Nina Antonia.

VOLUME 1:  Side One  Intro, Milk Me, Chinese Rocks, Get Off The Phone, London, Take A Chance, One Track Mind.  Side Two  All By Myself, Let Go, I Love You, Can’t Keep My Eyes On You, I Wanna Be Loved, Do You Love Me.   
VOLUME 2:  Side Three  All By Myself, Pirate Love, Too Much Junkie Business.   Side Four  Don’t Mess With Cupid, So Alone.


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