Gainesville Magazine — December 2004

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Faces & Places: Former Heartbreaker rocks on
By Dave Schlenker
Gainesville Magazine — December 2004

Stan Lynch seems more than relaxed in his Melrose-area home.

On many occasions, the shoes are off and he’s savoring one of the best waterfront views in these parts. The former drummer for TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS lives mostly in St. Augustine, but he is no stranger to the Melrose-area home he has owned — off and on — since 1979, when “Damn the Torpedoes” gave the Gainesville musicians their first taste of success.

At 49, his hair is much shorter now, and there’s even a bit of pepper mixed in the former mane. But the sharp features that graced MTV and stages worldwide are still unmistakable.

Lynch’s mellow demeanor is appropriate. Indeed, things are more relaxed since he called long-time friend Petty in 1994 and left a band that continues to pack arenas. When you’re young and full of rock ‘n’ roll vinegar, he says, touring with your buddies in a rock band is the most natural thing in the world. But when you pass your third decade and you can’t even tell your mother what city you are calling from, well, not so much.

With TP & the HBs, Lynch just followed that flashlight to the next stage and provided the beat for the most successful music group to ever form in Gainesville. He reunited with his bandmates in 2002 when TP & the HBs were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It was a euphoric, if nerve-racking, experience, as Lynch said his primary mission on stage was simply not dropping his drum sticks. After all, his days behind the drum set have given way to behind-the-scenes endeavors and, quite frankly, the result is a happier human being.

Lynch is more songwriter than performer these days; it’s a craft that finds him appreciating Petty’s talents more than ever.

Recent offerings include co-writing TIM MCGRAW’S “Back When,” a Top 10 hit that serves as Lynch’s most successful Nashville project. He also co-wrote the ballad “In the Moment” off SISTER HAZEL’S recent disc “Lift,” but his writing and co-writing catalogue also includes works performed by RINGO STARR, THE MAVERICKS, THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, THE EAGLES, TOTO, THE BYRDS, THE JEFF HEALEY BAND and close friend, mentor and collaborator DON HENLEY.

The man who has backed up BOB DYLAN has a reputation for being humble. He says things like, “Ringo cut my song? Really? Far out.” And when he awoke to hear McGraw singing “Back When” on “Good Morning America” recently, he wanted to send a telegram of thanks to the country superstar.

Lynch is also a producer, although he’ll tell you he only ventures into that “all-hats” territory for dear friends. That includes Henley (2000’s “Inside Job,” for one) and Sister Hazel’s DREW COPELAND (this year’s solo debut “No Regrets”). For about 10 years, Lynch has been a partner with old pal Jeff Sims in Sims Music & Sound in Gainesville.

“I’ve got a life of continuity . . . To me, that’s the definition of happiness,” Lynch says, later adding: “It’s all very personal now. That’s what it’s really all about.”

And Gainesville remains a substantial part of that.

A 1973 graduate of P.K. Yonge School who also inhabited Gainesville High School for a spell, he returns to this city often, checking in with Sims, driving around and bumping into childhood friends. Recently, he visited with old pal and original Heartbreaker BENMONT TENCH, who was in town to celebrate the birthday of his father, retired judge Benjamin M. Tench.

Lynch digs just drifting through this city, revisiting “trigger” spots that impacted his life and/or simply provided a memorable backdrop for his early years — clubs, now developed chunks of land and even the Duck Pond neighborhood where his first drum teacher lived.

“My Gainesville is still downtown, the Duck Pond and some of those bars I used to play,” says Lynch, who recalls skipping school to ride motor bikes in the wilderness that now houses the Oaks Mall. “Tower Road didn’t even exist, man.”

He remains close to his family, too. His father, Stanley Lynch, was a longtime professor at Santa Fe Community College and the man who convinced his rock star son to stop whining about Los Angeles and move back to Florida. Lynch Sr. now lives in Melrose. Mother Sally Lynch, a former librarian at Littlewood Elementary School, now lives in St. Augustine, as does the musician’s younger sister, Jody.

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