Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tom Petty rocks The Midnight Special

It took a while for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ self-titled debut to click, following its release in November of 1976. Opening for acts like Bob Seger, The Runaways and Roger McGuinn put Petty and the band in front of large crowds, giving them the opportunity to shine.

The album’s first single, “Breakdown,” didn’t gain much attention, and record sales were slow. Petty’s big break came as the opening act on a UK tour for Nils Lofgren in May ‘77 – a British-only single of “Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” hit Top 40 while the band was out with Lofgren, and the group went from openers to headlining their own shows there. The second US single, “American Girl,” failed to chart but did edge into the Top 40 in Britain by summer’s end (it would go on to become an FM rock radio staple Stateside and elsewhere).

Following Petty's British success, his label rereleased “Breakdown” in the States in ’77 and, this time, it worked: the song reached the Top 40 and, by year’s end, the band had played more than 200 shows across the U.S., Europe and the U.K.

Building on their success, Petty released his second album, “You’re Gonna Get It,” in May of ’78; the following month, the band appeared on The Midnight Special.

Guest host for the show was Crystal Gale; alongside guests Chuck Mangione and Eddie Rabbitt, Petty and crew played three songs: “American Girl,” “I Need To Know” (the first single from the new album) and “Listen To Her Heart.”

American American Girl - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty – American Girl
The Midnight Special – June 2, 1978

I Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - I Need to Know - You're Gonna Get It

Tom Petty – I Need To Know
The Midnight Special – June 2, 1978

Listen Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Listen to Her Heart - You're Gonna Get It

Unfortunately, finding a version of “Listen To Her Heart” has been difficult; this isn’t the best quality, but it’s presented for historical purposes.

Tom Petty – Listen To Her Heart
The Midnight Special – June 2, 1978