Tom Petty’s death marked the end of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but that doesn’t mean the music is over for the band’s surviving members. Three months after Tom Petty’s untimely death at age 66, several of his surviving bandmates are set to reunite — and it’s for a good cause. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, three of the Heartbreakers will reunite in Los Angeles in April to play at Stephen Stills’ autism benefit concert, Light Up the Blues.
Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench, and drummer Steve Ferrone will play in public together for the first time since Tom Petty’s death. Bass guitarist Ron Blair and multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston and are not included in the announcement, but the Heartbreakers trio will be part of a house band that will also include bassist Zev Katz, guitarist Kevin McCormick, and pianist Russell Walden. The Heartbreakers will be joined onstage alongside headliners Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Judy Collins, and more at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on April 21.
There is no word if the band will play any Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers music, but the show is not intended to be a Petty tribute. Still, the news about the reunion gig is music to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fans’ ears.
Shortly before he died in October, Tom Petty old a Los Angeles Times reporter that the band would end if all of the current members couldn’t perform together.
“If one of us went down, or if one of us died — God forbid — or got sick,” Petty said. “We’re all older now. Then we’d stop. I think that would be the end of it, if someone couldn’t do it.”
Sadly, Tom Petty died just days after making that statement and the band as fans knew it was officially done.
Days after Petty’s death, Benmont Tench announced that his previously planned solo show at the end of October would go on. At the time, Tench said he thought about not doing the shows so soon after Tom’s death, but decided to move forward with it.
“You don’t stop playing music on any account, for any reason, and especially when faced with such enormous loss,” he wrote to fans on Instagram. “You play more, louder, quieter, faster, slower, sad, joyous, angry, celebratory, lovingly.”
Benmont also said that the solo show would not include any kind of tribute to Tom Petty because that tribute was taking place privately, in his heart. Now that a little more time has passed, fans are hoping that Benmont and the boys will play some Tom Petty songs during their reunion gig.
Tom Petty didn’t often refer to himself as the leader of the Heartbreakers, but it came with the territory. According to Rolling Stone, Tom described himself not as the leader of his band, but instead as “the older brother they sometimes have to listen to.”
When Petty called the Heartbreakers’ 40th-anniversary tour last year the “last big one,” original Heartbreaker Mike Campbell said, “I’ve been hearing that for 15 years. We’ll see.”
Now, with Tom Petty gone, it really was the last one. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers final 40th-anniversary show was played at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25.