Date: September 1999
Interviewee: Mike Campbell
Notes: This is part of the “Spotlight on a Heartbreaker” series, which appeared on the official website several years ago (before it was redone), in which fans could email in questions for a Heartbreaker.
1) Amanda in NC, Ruth in NY, Kristin in TX, Tara from Canada and Lisa asked: How old were you when you started playing the guitar and what kind of guitar was it?
I was 16 and it was a cheap Harmony from a pawnshop. My first electric guitar was a $60 Goya from Okinawa.
2) Marcia in MI, Gary in LA and Tracey in PA asked: How did you learn to play – take lessons or self-taught?
I am self taught — got chords from a book and learned by ear from records.
3) CJ and Charlie in CA asked: Where were you born and what high school did you graduate from?
I was born in Panama City, Florida. I graduated from Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Florida.
4) Susan and Sean asked: Do you have any brothers or sisters? Older or younger than you?
I have a brother sister and half sister all younger than me.
5) Beth in IL and Juli asked: How did you get talked into quitting college to join Mudcrutch?
I was convinced I wasn’t exactly Army material. Tom threatened to break my fingers if I didn’t join his band…so I quit school to play music. What were your parents’ reactions to your decision? My parents didn’t complain too much especially after I got my first royalty check.
6) Suzanne in NY and Juli asked: Are your kids musically inclined? Would you be enthusiastic about them pursuing music careers?
All my kids are musically inclined but not that interested in pursuing it. I would be glad if they did.
7) Melissa asked: What was the first song you learned to play, and what is the first song you ever wrote?
The first song I ever learned on the guitar was ” Baby Let Me Follow You Down” from a Bob Dylan record….The first song I ever wrote was ” Purple Sand” — kind of a Beach Boys tune.
8 ) Mike in Washington, DC, Adam in Canada, Jonathan in TN, Tara in Canada, Steve, Daria, Andrew and Eric asked: Which guitarists influenced you as you were learning to play?
I was influenced by many guitarists: Scotty Moore, Luther Perkins, George Harrison, Carl Wilson, Jerry Garcia, Roger McGuinn, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Jimmy Page, Mick Taylor, on and on…….
9) Charlie and Sue asked: When was the first time you recorded something in the studio and can you describe the experience?
Mudcrutch recorded some demos in Miami. It was way cool being in a studio, we were instantly addicted……I remember pulling a tube out of the amp to get it to distort.
10) CJ and Noelle asked: What bands were you in prior to Mudcrutch?
I was only in one band before Mudcrutch. It was a jam–blues type three-piece…we called ourselves Dead or Alive.
11) Jo and Charlie asked: Please describe your first meeting with Tom Petty at yours and Randall’s place.
I was in the back e best partroom when Mudcrutch auditioned Randall Marsh. They asked me to sit in. We played “Johnny B Goode” and I never left. From then on everything was different…there was guitar and nothing else.
12) Ruth in NY and CJ asked: How did you come up with the name Heartbreakers; is it accurate?
Tom came in with the name Heartbreakers. I think he nicked it from the Stones’ song….we liked it—–not to be taken literally.
13) Brittany in FL, Becky in MA and Tara in Canada asked: What do you enjoy most about playing with the same group of people for so many years?
The telepathy is the best part of being in one group so long….it gets comfortable—-things just flow.
14) Theresa asked: Can you tell us a prank that one band member has pulled on another band member at some point on the road or in the studio???
I once had a sampler for a guitar effect on stage but when I stepped on it I realized someone had replaced it with a guy yelling, “GO GATORS”…..most of our pranks aren’t repeatable here.
15) Becky of MA and Wilma asked: What is your most memorable or embarrassing moment live on stage?
My most memorable moment is probably playing with George Harrison at Albert Hall. THAT was a spiritual night—-My most embarrassing moment was when my knee ripped in Atlanta and I hit the deck….I kinda blacked out from the pain but kept playing.
16) Suzanne of NY, Blackjack in PA, Brigitte from The Netherlands, Tara from Canada, Irina and Lena from St. Petersburg, Russia, JUKES37, Daria, CaptainP80, Steve, Susan and Debbie asked: How does it feel to finally SING in front of your fans on tour and do you plan on releasing any other songs with your lead vocal on future Heartbreaker albums?
I love singing with the band. I hope I get to do more in the future.
17) Tara from Canada, JR and Daria asked: “Surf ‘n’ Burn” by the Blue Stingrays is great! What individual musicians other than you play on it?
I heard a rumor that Ron Blair and Randall Marsh were at the legendary sessions of the Blue Stingrays—-but this is not confirmed—–however they have been seen lately in the breaks at Zuma beach.
18) Roxanne in New York, Tara from Canada, Jeanne, Scott, and Jessica asked: Who are your favorite musicians?
I have so many favorite musicians. Right now I am really deep into Jerry Garcia…..
19) Joe and Emily asked: Do you have anyone you would describe as your mentor?
I don’t really have a mentor although I have learned something from everyone I have ever met or played with.
20) Tere in TX, Roxanne in NY, Ron in MA, Tim in FL, Jeremy, Cecilyn in CA, Daria and Christine asked: How many guitars do you have and what are your favorites in your collection?
I’m ashamed that I don’t know exactly how many guitars I have. I just got three this month —- near 200 I guess. I’m starting to give some of them away — no room. My favorite is my Fender Broadcaster……I’m designing one right now with a guy from Detroit. It will be a cross between Garcia’s tiger and a Fender Jaguar.
21) Tim in FL asked: Is there a guitar out there you are still hoping to own?
I was trying to buy Garcia’s spare but the guy who has it is kind of elusive.
22) Scott asked: If you could choose one of your guitars to represent you (like a Mike Campbell signature model) which one would it be?
Probably the double neck I was using on “Good to be King” — made for me by Danny Ferrington.
23) Hubert in Germany asked: Which pick-up do you use on your “Black & Gold Custom Rickenbacker” at the Treble position? Is that guitar a unique one?
I was told it’s not available. We changed that pick-up so many times that I forget what ended up in there….something hot, THAT I’m sure of.
24) Mark in GA asked: What kind of guitar, pick-ups, amps, any effects pedals, etc. did you use to get the sound for “Don’t Come Around Here No More?”
On “Don’t Come Around Here No More” I used a gold top Les Paul through a rat distortion pedal with a boss octaver and a wah wah pedal through an Ampeg rocket amp…..also used a slide bottle.
25) John asked: Do you design your guitars’ setups to feel similar from one to the next, or for best individual action?
I usually leave guitars the way I buy them.
26) Hank asked: I saw that you use those Danelectro pedals. Can you tell me your settings on the Daddy-O?
For settings on the Danelectro pedal consult Geetartech@aol.com.
27) Randy in NC and Greg asked: What is your stage amp setup and what pedals do you use? I saw what looked like several Vox AC-30’s. Are your AC-30’s top Boosted?
I use a vintage AC-30 ( with top boost I think) with wah wah Roland delays, Danelectro Daddy-O — also a Kustom200 and sometimes a Bassman amp. Also on the last tour the soundman had a feed from a Groove Tube preamp for the PA only.
28) Mike asked: What are some of the amps and effects you use besides Vox AC-30s?
In the studio we use every amp imaginable.
29) Jim in OH asked: Are there any particular Gretsch model guitars that you like to play?
I like a Tenessean that I keep at home and I have a Firejet from ’56 that is really nice.
30) Greg and Charlie asked: What was the double-neck guitar you used this tour?
Designed by Danny Ferrington here in LA … based on the shape of an old Gibson played by Robert Johnson.
31) Mike asked: Is the Telecaster you’ve been playing on this tour the Broadcaster that you used to play in the ’70s and ’80s? If it is, what made you decide to take a guitar of that value back out on the road?
I brought the Broadcaster out for two reasons: It sounds amazing and I figured why not share the tone?
32) Lorraine in MI, Steve and Joe asked: What is your favorite song to perform live and why?
This tour I liked “I Don’t Wanna Fight” ’cause I got to be king………I always enjoy “Runnin’ Down a Dream” ’cause I get to go off.
33) Tara in Canada, Charlotte and Adrian asked: Is there a song or album that you’ve worked on that has special significance to you or that you are most fond/proud of?
I really like “Lonesome Sundown” just because I was really feeling that take when we did it….it really got to me.
34) Cate in CA and Suzanne in NY asked: What CDs are in your CD player now at home?
Right now in my CD player are Macy Gray — Broken Arrow ( Neil Young) — Run Devil Run ( McCartney ) — Fiona Apple’s new one — Mule Variations (Tom Waits).
35) Cecilyn of CA and Jeanne asked: What do you do to prepare for a gig? Any preshow rituals?
Before a gig I may have a fear nap — some expresso — a little alcohol — pace a lot — make sure my fly is zipped — look for Howie — pray that the set is different from the last gig, etc…..
36) Kim in CA , Beth in IL and Kellyholck asked: How much of the audience can you see from the stage and what do you think when you see the same fans over and over again?
Sometimes you can see a lot of crowd easily, other times it’s just a big headlight in your eyes…….familiar faces are always welcome…..
37) Josh of CO, Beth of KY, Emma and Billy asked: What advice would you give a young kid trying to make it in a good ol’ rock n’ roll band?
My advice to a beginner is — HAVE FUN.
38) Ruth in NY asked: February 1st is your birthday – what does turning 50 mean to you, and when you were a kid what did you think about yourself turning half a century old?
Turning 50 will be strange. Didn’t think I ever would really but it’s actually great being where I am. It has been worth the journey…and what’s surprising is I feel really good — physically and mentally. Music heals all.
39) Mary in ND asked: If it were possible for you to attend any concert (festival, etc.) from the past, which one would it be? And why?
Bob Marley at the Roxy — 1976. There was a presence, a feeling of bliss that I have never felt since.
40) Cecilyn in CA and Charlotte asked: What are your non-music hobbies or interests?
I don’t really have hobbies — no time….I read and I do things with my Family….that’s my greatest joy.
41) Sean and CJ asked: Name 5 things none of your fans know about you.
1. What side of the bed I like best. 2. All my pets’ names. 3. How much booty I’ve got in the bank. 4. How much I really love this band. 5. How much I really love all our fans…. 5. That I was a killer sax player in my last lifetime…