Tom Petty releases his debut solo album Full Moon Fever

On April 24, 1989, Tom Petty released his debut solo album, Full Moon Fever. The album is an exploration of Petty’s roots rock sound. His influences shine through on most of the album, along with co-producer Jeff Lynne’s, which include The Byrds, Del Shannon, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, and The Beatles.  It features contributions from members of his backing band The Heartbreakers, and even some by Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison, the latter of whom passed away before the album was released. It was mostly recorded in Heartbreakers member Mike Campbell’s garage, with Petty noting it was the most enjoyable record of his career.

The album opener, and third single, “Free Fallin’”, with lyrics describing what I can only ascertain as a man living in Southern California who broke a woman’s heart, is as uplifting, with it’s happy chorus and soft-textured chord progression, as it is sad, with a line in one of the verse’s reading, ‘And I’m a bad boy, ‘cause I don’t even miss her/I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart’. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” is personally my favorite from the album, with a catchy guitar hook that took me more than a few times to learn because I suck at learning riffs if they don’t start on the first downbeat of the progression. The lyrics are very inspirational, with the character in the story driving down the road on a sunny day with the radio on, driving towards, or chasing, his dream. Whatever we want to pursue in life, those goals will never be fulfilled if we just sit still, and Tom Petty paints a clear picture of why it’s so important to always be on the move to achieve what you want.

With the help of three hit singles, including the motivational anthem, “I Won’t Back Down”, Full Moon Fever was Tom Petty’s commercial peak as a solo artist, and it received widespread critical acclaim. It topped out at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and #8 in the U.K. It has been certified 5x platinum in the U.S. and 6x platinum in Canada. Allmusic rated the album 4-and-a-half stars, and said it rivaled any of the Heartbreakers albums previously released, and called it a “minor masterpiece”. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #92 on their list of 100 best albums of the eighties, and called it a “masterful solo album”. Although Tom Petty would go on to release several acclaimed albums, Full Moon Fever is still regarded by many as a landmark album from a man who beautifully succeeded in ‘running down his dream’.

Here’s what else happened this week in rock history: 

Born This Week in Rock History:

4/22/1950 – Peter Frampton (guitar, Humble Pie)
4/23/1936 – Roy Orbison (rock and roll singer-songwriter)
4/23/1947 – Glenn Cornick (bass, Jethro Tull)
4/24/1945 – Doug Clifford (drums, Creedence Clearwater Revival)
4/25/1917 – Ella Fitzgerald (jazz vocalist)
4/25/1923 – Albert King (blues vocalist & guitarist)
4/25/1945 – Stu Cook (bass, Creedence Clearwater Revival)
4/26/1886 – Ma Rainey (blues vocalist)
4/26/1915 – Johnny Shines (blues vocalist& guitarist)
4/27/1951 – Ace Frehley (guitar, KISS)


Died This Week in Rock History:

4/22/2013 – Richie Havens (folk singer-songwriter, guitarist)
4/24/1970 – Otis Spann (blues vocalist & pianist)
4/26/1984 – William James “Count” Basie (jazz pianist & bandleader)
4/28/1934 – Charley Patton (blues vocalist & guitarist)


Music Releases and Top of the Charts:

4/22/1972 – Deep Purple’s Machine Head hits #1 in the U.K.
4/23/1969 – The Beatles With Billy Preston’s “Get Back” hits #1 in the U.K.
4/23/1971 – The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers is released
4/23/1976 – The Ramones release The Ramones
4/23/1979 – Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” hits #1
4/23/1994 – Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell tops the charts
4/24/1971 – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s LP 4 Way Street hits #1
4/24/1976 – Wings’ LP At The Speed Of Sound hits #1
4/24/1989 – Tom Petty releases Full Moon Fever
4/24/2006 – Bruce Springsteen releases “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions”
4/25/1978 – Queen’s “We Are The Champions” is certified gold
4/25/2005 – Bruce Springsteen releases Devils & Dust
4/26/1969 – The Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack of Hair hits #1
4/27/1968 – Simon and Garfunkel, “Mrs. Robinson” was released


This Week in Rock History: 

4/22/1969 – John Lennon very publicly changes his middle name from “Winston” to “Ono.”

4/22/1978 – Bob Marley and the Wailers perform their first show, and Marley makes his first public appearance in Jamaica, after being wounded in an assassination attempt a year and a half earlier. We love Bob Marley and very much hate the would-be assassin.

4/22/1978 – On tonight’s Saturday Night Live, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd team up to debut two new characters called “The Blues Brothers,” who perform a cover of Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man.”

4/23/1963 – During a Rolling Stones performance at the Crawdaddy Club, the band meets another band, called The Beatles for the very first time. We can’t decide who should have been more starstruck.

4/23/1981 – Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins join Johnny Cash onstage at his show in Stuttgart, West Germany, performing their hits and some mutual country, blues, and gospel favorites. The concert is later released as the LP The Survivors.

4/24/1968 – The newly-formed Apple Records decides not to sign a young talent named David Bowie.

4/24/1976 – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Linda McCartney spent an evening together at Lennon’s NYC apartment kicking back and watching some Saturday Night Live. The show’s producer, Lorne Michaels, went on the air and invited The Beatles to show up at SNL and perform three songs. Lennon and McCartney seriously considered taking a cab down to the studio, but ultimately decided they were too tired to make it down, much to the dismay of basically every music fan ever. This was the last time the two Beatles ever spent together.

4/24/1990 – Roger Waters’ road crew was working on construction of the set for The Wall in Potsdamer Platz, Germany, when they discovered an undetonated explosive from World War II.

4/25/1974 – According to the new issue of Rolling Stone, “streaking” has become so popular that Yes and Gregg Allman concerts have been interrupted by the fad. At a recent Beach Boys concert, the magazine says, the band was streaked by its own crew.

4/25/1979 – The Police made their television debut on the BBC TV’s Top of the Pops, playing their catchy hit “Roxanne.”

4/26/1977 – The disco boom gets rolling in earnest with the opening of Steve Rubell’s new glitzy and ultra-exclusive club, Studio 54, in New York. Among the guests invited opening night: Cher, Mick Jagger and wife Bianca, Debbie Harry, Donald and Ivana Trump, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Hall, Halston, Margaux Hemingway, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Salvador Dali, Brooke Shields, Martha Graham, and Robin Leach.

4/27/1975 – 511 audience members are in custody in Los Angeles for smoking marijuana during Pink Floyd’s recent five nights at the Los Angeles Arena.

4/28/1963 – London hustler and PR man Andrew Loog Oldham gets his first glimpse of the Rolling Stones onstage at the Crawdaddy Club; the very next day, he becomes their manager.

4/28/1968 – Hair, the hit Broadway rock musical about the hippie movement, opened in New York City at the Biltmore Theatre. Included in the show are famous songs such as “Good Morning Starshine,” “Aquarius,” “Let The Sunshine In,” and “Easy To Be Hard,” which have all been recorded by other pop or rock artists as well. The show ran for 1,729 performances and closed in the summer of 1972.

4/28/1982 – Certain “experts” gave testimony to the California State Assembly Consumer Protection Committee that when Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” is played backward, you can hear the following words: “I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off, there’s no escaping it. Here’s to my sweet Satan, whose power is Satan. He will give you 666. I live for Satan.” Since this is very obviously 100% true, “Stairway To Heaven” should be avoided at all costs. No, we’re kidding, always listen to “Stairway,” we love it and it’s the best.

Photo Copyright: The New Yorker