Rolling Stone #562 — October 5, 1989

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If It’s Monday, This Must Be Miami
By Tom Petty and Steve Hochman
Rolling Stone #562 — October 5, 1989

On The Road With Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The first time Tom Petty went on tour, he and his teen band drove from Gainesville, Florida, to Sarasota in a van and spent the night in two rooms at a Holiday Inn. Now when Petty and the Heartbreakers — guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench, drummer Stan Lynch and bassist Howie Epstein — take to the road, they do so for months on end, rolling in three luxury buses (one for Petty, his wife, Jane, and their two daughters, one for the band and one for the crew), with four semis for equipment. The accommodations are first-class. Every detail is watched by minions schooled in the ways of modern touring.

Rolling Stone sent photographer Aaron Rapoport to chronicle the opening days of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ first tour in two years and asked Petty and reporter Steve Hochman to keep diaries of the proceedings. As Petty’s opening entry shows, at the start of the nine-week tour, which was to hit forty-four American cities, he was having a little trouble getting in the right frame of mind.

June 29th: Crescent Beach, Florida (Tom Petty): I came here two days ago with Jane and my two girls — Adria, who’s fourteen, and Kim, who’s seven. We’re in our rented place on this fairly deserted stretch of intoxicating white-sand beach in north Florida. I left L.A. after cutting rehearsal a week short. “We know these songs,” said Howie. “Go rest,” said everyone who’s had to deal with me lately. So I’m here resting, I guess. I just walk miles up and down the beach.

Stan lives near here sometimes and might even be here now. The rest of the Heartbreakers will drift down to Miami over the next few days for our first sound check on July 4th and our first show in two years on the fifth. The band has a modest wager that Howie will arrive two hours before we go on, as he is finishing production on Carlene Carter’s LP — the last HB to be free of outside endeavors.

I had a week here last summer, the only week off since we finished our tour with Bob Dylan in ’87. Since then I met some new friends, recorded Full Moon Fever with Jeff Lynne, wrote and sang some tracks on Roy Orbison’s LP, sang on Joni Mitchell’s record, made the Traveling Wilburys LP, played and sang on a couple Randy Newman cuts and, along with Jeff Lynne, wrote and recorded (at Mike Campbell’s) a song for Del Shannon. Oh, we also played on this wild track for Jim Horn. Maybe I should just say, “I’ve been in the studio for a couple of years.”

So have the Heartbreakers been busy? Yes. Benmont with Elvis Costello, Roy O., U2 and who knows how many others. Stan with Don Henley and Lord knows what else. Mike with me on Full Moon Fever, on his own writing and playing with Don Henley and Stevie Nicks and also playing with Warren Zevon, Paul Carrack, and oh, yeah, he did those sessions for Del Shannon with Jeff and me and some more of Del’s as producer. And he produced four tracks on Roy’s Mystery Girl, then somehow found the time to play on those Randy Newman and Jim Horn tracks, too.

Our tour begins in seven days. It’s late. I guess I should rest.

 


 

July 2nd: (T.P.): Our bus-driver Robin (on her third T.P. tour, even though she’s only twenty-three) arrived with our new bus for the drive to Miami in the morning. Smelling diesel always does it — I’m starting to find it hard to get my mind off being onstage again.

 


 

July 3rd: Miami Beach (T.P.): We’re in a high-rise hotel on the beach, complete with two pools and a fake rock waterfall. It’s amazing how less charming his beach is. I miss the soft white sand.

The band arrived around 11:00 p.m.: Tony Dimitriades (our manager) called to say Full Moon Fever entered the English charts at Number Eight. We had a brief international celebration, and I went to bed.

 


 

July 4th: Hotel Alexander, Miami Beach (T.P.): Wake up to a million phone calls. I worked on some form of song list, which is still not straight. And I’ll bet it’s not when we go on.

Got bored and went early to Miami Arena for rehearsal and T.V. interviews. Had crew meal.

Finally got some clean clothes. Sound was okay. But we’re not fond of rehearsal for some reason. I don’t want us to know too much about what we’re doing tomorrow. First gigs are an experience.

My favorite moment today was watching Kim and Adria chase colored spotlights around the floor of the arena.

 


 

July 4th: 12:30 p.m. (Steve Hochman): In the hotel coffee shop, a waitress with a Hispanic accent asks Petty, “You do concert tonight?” T.P. says “Nah, we’re just here to play cards.” A wise-guy waiter comes over and says “Hey! Don’t back down, okay?” T.P. grimaces.

T.P. asks if they want tickets to the concert. The waiter says, “Yeah, just quit draggin’ my heart around.” Everybody grimaces.

 


 

July 4th: 2:00 p.m. (S.H.): The same waiter comes to the table where Tench and Lynch are studying the menu. Tench: “Can I get a club sandwich?” Waiter: “Sure, just don’t back down, okay?” Tench and Lynch grimace.

 


 

July 4th: 9:00 p.m. (S.H.): After calling for an early sound check so that he can enjoy the holiday with his family, T.P. heads off for the beach with Jane and their kids so that they can watch the fireworks and set off a few of their own. “The last time I was anonymous was up in Crescent Beach,” Petty says. “I just pulled my hair back and wore a cap and sunglasses and my old T-shirt and this fluorescent-green pair of shorts I had, and I was just like a local. Until the last day there, when people started to recognize me.”

 


 

July 5th: 12:30 a.m. (S.H.): Squired by assistant tour manager Mickey Heyes, Campbell, Tench, tour accountant Tony Flannery and manager Tony Dimitriades take up an invitation from a local rock club to be its guests. The young crowd (“Rob Lowe does his shopping here,” says a friend of Dimitriade’s) and loud sounds are not to everyone’s liking, so the party departs, with Tench, Campbell and Heyes catching a ride from a young associate of the club’s in a white Jaguar.

The young man hints at shady connections (“Anything you want, I can get,” he says, though no one takes up his offer) as he drives through downtown Miami at an average speed of about 65 m.p.h.

“So you’re in a band?” he asks.

“A rock band,” Heyes says.

“You new on the scene?”

Campbell can’t resist. “No, we’re been around about two years,” he says with a straight face.

“Well, I wish you a lot of success, and I hope it all doesn’t go up your nose.”

 


 

July 5th: 7:00 p.m. (S.H.): Before the show, Petty and the band piddle around the arena, obviously antsy. Campbell emerges from his first meeting with the Replacements, who are opening for the Heartbreakers, and encounters T.P. and Tench in the hall.

“You gotta meet these guys,” Campbell says. “They’re great. They were telling me how much they like your new song ‘Running Down the Drain.'”

T.P. and Tench immediately to meet them.

“You nervous?” Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson asks T.P.

“I’m scared as shit.”

“You want a beer or something?” Stinson asks for the first of several times.

“Nah, you’re opening Pandora’s box there,” Petty replies.

“You still do ‘Breakdown’?” Stinson asks.

Petty rolls his eyes. “Yeah, we still do that. I think I’ll know we’re really doing okay when I don’t have to do that song anymore.”

Singer-guitarist-songwriter Paul Westerburg says, “That was the first song I ever sang with these guys. But I couldn’t really get the high parts. My voice won’t do that.”

“Why don’t you do the song and then we won’t have to?” says Petty.

 


 

July 5th: 7:30 p.m. (S.H.): Mike Campbell has altered the sign on the tuneup room to read, HIT ON HEAD LESSONS, a reference to a Monty Python sketch. (At the next show, it will read, TEENS FOR CHRIST.) Inside, Stan Lynch is playing a practice drum kit. Pausing, he considers the recent past and the state of the band.

“For years my last name was Drummer for T.P. and the Heartbreakers,” Lynch says. “It was good for me to do some other projects. We all as band members have been allowed to do whatever we want. Tom just says, ‘Keep it clean. Do things we can all be proud of.’ But Tom’s never had the possibility. For fourteen years he’s been the faithful bandleader. Now that he did some other things, that in the end could keep the band together.”

At that point, T.P. comes in to warm up on  guitar. Stumbling around the fret board of his Fender Telecaster, he mutters that he has forgotten the songs. But soon he has a gleam in his eye.

“Well, Stanley,” he says, head cocked devilishly. “It’s all comin’ back to me.”

 


 

July 5th: 9:10 p.m. (S.H.): Tour manager Scott Harder, making his first tour with the Heartbreakers, ducks his head into their dressing room to tell them there’s five minutes to show time, so they’d better attend to whatever business they have to do.

“‘Nerve poo’ means five minutes,” he says in the hallway. “‘Nerve pee’ is two minutes. I tell them that so they can take a dump if they’re nervous.”

 


 

July 5th: 9:15 p.m. (S.H.): The band heads down the hall toward the stage. “Where’s the priest?” says Tench. “Father, I don’t want to die!”

As photographer Aaron Rapoport records the procession, Lynch proclaims, “This is the face of stark terror.”

 


 

July 5th: 9:16 p.m. (S.H.): “Ladies and gentlemen. Will you welcome, from the United States of America, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.” Against a stunning background provided by lighting and stage designer (and long-time Petty pal) Jim Lenahan, the band launches into “American Girl.” The static electricity that was building backstage is shooting out palpable charges onstage, sometimes misfiring (the set loses some momentum toward the middle, and the airy “Free Fallin'” proves a little too down-tempo to provide a knockout punch in the encore) but mostly sending lightning bolts dead on target. The crowd, though a bit short of a sell-out in the 15,000-seat arena, is with the band nearly every note, even the intricate trills and strolls of Tench’s barrelhouse piano showcase (dubbed “Ben’s Boogie”) which is admittedly not the usual fare for arena shows. A supercharged cover of the Yardbirds’ stutter-step rocker “I’m Not Talking,” though, leaves as many people scratching their heads as boogieing in their seats.

Petty seems rejuvenated, performing like an excited kid on his first big tour. And despite the first-night glitches, the uniform of the day for the five musicians is a big shit-eatin’ grin. No one onstage, however, is smiling as much as Jane Petty, standing on a platform next to the stage.

“Every tour has had some heavy thing,” he says. “Like two years ago, we went out a week after the fire that destroyed our house. Every year this guy’s had something to come out of! This time it’s just for fun.”

 


 

July 5th: 10:58 p.m. (S.H.): After the show ends, a reluctant Petty has to stay to meet and greet some contest winners. But the Heartbreakers “do a runner,” sprinting straight to their bus for the all-night ride to St. Petersburg, the first of many such trips to come. Mickey Heyes serves the guys takeout Chinese food, and they gleefully utilize the mobile dorm’s new feature: a trash chute leading to a giant trash can in the luggage hold. After a little chat or reading, they all turn in.

 


 

July 6th: The Don Cesar, St. Petersburg, 5:00 a.m. (S.H.): The bus rolls up to the hotel. The band is awakened to check in — and to receive the news that the wondrous trash can has not been installed on the bus and there is Chinese food all over the luggage.

 


 

July 5th: On bus from Miami to St. Petersburg after show at Miami Arena (T.P.): Thank God the day has come. I’m on the bus in the back lounge. She’s the Sheriff is on TV. No, wait, there’s another channel coming in, some western. Anyway, felt great to do the show and play with the Heartbreakers again. Lovely audience in Miami. I’m still confused with the set list. We did the order of our last rehearsal. We met the Replacements. I like them, and they sound great. My mind is flooding with 1000 thoughts a second — it’s always, winding down from a show. It’s hard to write — we’re on some shaky road. My favorite song tonight was “Milk Cow Boogie Blues.”

 


 

July 6th: St. Petersburg (T.P.): We arrive at the hotel in St. Petersburg Beach at 5:30 a.m. After two hours’ sleep on the bus we moved into a suite, fell into bed and realized that the air conditioning didn’t work. A man came up and couldn’t fix it. I tossed and turned till 8:30, checked the thermostat, and it was ninety degrees. I did not sleep.

Went to the hall for sound check. Roger McGuinn and his wife, Camilla, were there. Bruce (my bro) and his wife, Beth, are with us again. I see my dad at crew meal. A sea of familiar faces, but I feel like shit. I know better by now not to go with this feeling. Mike’s come in, and I get a B-12 shot. We work on the set list again. Have a brandy for nerves and go on. Great show, amazing crowd. I love it when the house and band connect early. So it was high-power nuts.

Roger came on and did four Byrds songs, and it was great. I love Roger. Afterwards I met 100 or so people who someone had promised I would meet without my knowledge. “It was more work than the gig,” said Roger. He was right.

Got back on the bus through a wall of fans all around where Kim (age seven) was signing autographs through the window. She’s been waiting for an hour with my dad. Got home at 1:00 a.m., bedded the kids down and fell asleep. Feeling tired but good.

P.S. My favorite song tonight was “Southern Accents.”

 


 

July 6th: The Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg, 9:15 p.m. (S.H.): “Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome…” In only the second show of the tour, everything gels into a powerful, personal and eminently entertaining set. The presence of Roger McGuinn, who lives fifteen miles from here, doesn’t hurt. But T.P. and the boys in their own right put it all together, with “Free Fallin'” taking a better spot in the middle of the show, and the set-closing one-town of “Refugee” and “Running Down a Dream” setting up the house-shaking encore pairing of “I’m Not Talking” and the Animals’ “I’m Crying.”

 


 

July 6th: 10:15 p.m. (S.H.): Stan Lynch Sr., a professor of psychology at the University of Florida and, like Stan Jr., a tall, thin, handsome figure, is watching his son’s band perform. “I used to never be able to enjoy these shows,” he says. “I was always so wrapped up in experiencing what they felt, living their lives. But this is really fun! And the crowd is so alive — everybody’s having fun. I’m having fun!”

 


 

July 7th: The Don Cesar, 9:00 a.m. (S.H.): The tour’s only two days old, but already the gang is happy to take a day off at the hotel, a gorgeous pink edifice rising from the white sands on the Gulf Coast.

Petty sleeps in well past noon, lounging around in his penthouse suite virtually all day. Campbell, Tench, and Epstein ogle the extra-healthy young things frolicking by the pool and pick up a few rays. (“I’ve lost my credibility as a musician,” moans Tench, showing off the little color he’s acquired.) Only Lynch, in true drummer fashion, indulges in a little physical adventure, going up on a parasail.

 


 

July 7th: Don Cesar penthouse suite, 1:30 p.m. (S.H.): “I was telling Adria how now there’s fifty people that go around with us,” says Petty. “It used to be just five guys in the band and Bugs [guitar technician Alan Weidel] and Jim Lenahan. But we didn’t see Bugs and Lenahan because they were always driving the rental truck. That’s how I remember those days. Like, here we are in the motel room, now we’re in the dressing room, now we’re in the van. And it was always us, always together. And you get to know each other so well. You just don’t say anything. You could just raise an eyebrow or a look or one word and you get a whole different language. We had a Vox amp apiece and a drum set, and that was it. We’d put up the amps and drums and play. Probably the way we should still do it.

“It was a strange way to be married,” Petty says. “Jane lived there, and I lived everywhere else. The first reason it changed was when I could afford to do it. I think it’s probably just growing older. There was a point where I got so attached to especially Kim. I didn’t want to miss Kim growing up. And I spend so much time on the road, the idea of sitting alone in a room anymore is … I don’t like to be alone. I used to be able to entertain myself endlessly.”

Later, Mike Campbell — the other family man in the band, with three kids — mentions that he’d love to be able to bring his family out, too. “I really miss my family,” he says. “If I could afford to take them like Tom, I would, though we might go crazy doing it for the whole trip. And if I did bring them out like that, I’d go home with about five dollars.” He chuckles. “Maybe I should do a solo album so I could afford a solo bus.”

 


 

July 7th: 8:30 p.m. (S.H.): Petty is finally tempted out of the hotel for a sunset walk on the now nearly empty beach with Jane and Kim — the first time since July 4th that he has left his room for anything besides going to a show.

 


 

July 8th: On bus from St. Petersburg to Orlando, 2:30 p.m. (S.H.): “We’re going to the heart of the whole thing — Orlando!” says Petty. “It’s Mickey’s birthday! My brother said he went to Disney World last year and they had Mickey’s Birthday House. You could line up and get Mickey’s autograph. He said it was like that backstage the other night, but Mickey didn’t have to talk, so Bruce said he had it better than me.”

 


 

July 8th: Still on the bus, 3:00 p.m. (S.H.): After fiddling around for a few minutes, Petty figures out how to work one of the bus’s four VCRs (yes, four: this one up front, one in the master bedroom and one in each girl’s bunk). He watches a work tape of the animated clip for “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” After that, the decidedly nontechnical Petty tries to play an audiocassette, but he can’t get the tape deck to work. So he gives up and takes the wrapper off a melted Power Bar nutrition snack.

“This is rock & roll in the Eighties,” he declares. “Your own bus, a tape deck that doesn’t work and a Power Bar.”

 


 

July 8th: 6:30 p.m. (S.H.): At the crew meal at Orlando Arena before the show, T.P. comments on another change in touring: “AIDS has really changed rock & roll,” he says, gesturing toward the crew members. “In the past all of them would have had a little crumpet lined up by now.”

 


 

July 8th: Orlando Arena, 7:00 p.m. (S.H.): This night, Petty figures out the Mickey Mouse game. Informed that again there is a group of more than twenty contest winners promised a meeting with him (this time before the show), his first reaction is to say, “They’ll have to do it without me.” But he gamely goes to the room, where the fans have been instructed to line up and say little besides hello. T.P. is introduced, and after a pregnant pause he launches himself down the line like a master, shaking everyone’s hand in about thirty seconds: “Hello. Hi. Nice to see you. Thanks. Hi. Hello….”

 


 

July 8th: 9:15 p.m. (S.H.): “Ladies and gentlemen, will you welcome…” The Replacements don’t go over too well with the crowd. (Only a version of Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen,” sung by the band’s road manager, gets the audience cheering). But the HBs have no such problems. Campbell plays with a little extra fire, while Lynch and Epstein lock into particularly propulsive grooves all night long. And the packed-house crowd does its part: On “Breakdown,” the fans sing almost the entire song for Petty, who doesn’t jump in until the last chorus.

 


 

July 9th: Peabody Hotel, Orlando, 1:30 a.m. (S.H.): A few would-be crumpets have found their way to the hotel bar. The half dozen young women chat with Tench, Epstein, Harder, security director Doug Ivan and Dimitriades (one of the rare occasions he doesn’t have his portable phone with him). One of the women — a hairdresser who says she is writing a “tell all” book about the famous people she’s bedded — explains that she won tickets to the concert in a radio contest that involved eating a banana stuck between a man’s legs with her hands tied behind her back. Everyone goes to bed alone.

 


 

July 9th: 11:30 a.m. (S.H.): T.P. and the Heartbreakers are on the bus to the airport. They’re flying to Milwaukee (Epstein’s hometown), where they’ll play for 24,000 people at the Summerfest. Discussing last night’s social activities, Tench describes how standards change during a tour: “They’ll all be goddesses by Pittsburgh.”

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