The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell Will Dip Into Tom Petty’s Songbook on Tour

His new band is about to head on the road

Mike Campbell
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Mike Campbell, co founder of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, performs onstage during the 50th anniversary tribute to the Byrds album 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

It’s not unusual, five years after his untimely death, to hear a musician cover a Tom Petty song in a live setting. The vast majority of these musicians didn’t co-found Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Right about there, we’d like to say that Mike Campbell has a distinct advantage over many of his peers. Campbell’s work with Petty dates back to their days playing in Mudcrutch.

Now, Campbell’s new band, Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs, are set to tour behind their second album. In a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone, Campbell described their sound as, “slightly over-driven, less polished, lots of Sixties influence — the Kinks, Zeppelin, the Animals.” All of which sounds very promising.

Campbell also handled the lead vocal duties on “I Don’t Wanna Fight,” from the Heartbreakers’ album Echo. But if you’ve ever wanted to hear him tackle a few of Petty’s compositions, this tour might just be the place to do it. In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Campbell mentioned that his band had plans to play a few while on the road.

“We have an arsenal of [Heartbreakers] songs that we’ll interchange from night to night,” he said. “I think people coming to see us would probably like to hear some of those.” More intriguingly, Campbell’s comments suggest that the arrangements will take familiar songs into new territory, including “a really good version of ‘Southern Accents’ that we do as a waltz” and a version of “You Got Lucky” that evokes “London Calling.”

Does the idea of a Heartbreakers founder covering Tom Petty in the style of The Clash pique your interest? We suspect it might.

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