Mike Campbell (musician)

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Mike Campbell
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Campbell performing with Fleetwood Mac in 2018
Background information
Birth nameMichael Wayne Campbell
Born (1950-02-01) February 1, 1950 (age 69)
OriginJacksonville, Florida, United States
Years active1971–present
Associated acts

Michael Wayne Campbell (born February 1, 1950) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. Campbell was a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and co-wrote many of the band's hits with Petty, including "Refugee", "Here Comes My Girl", "You Got Lucky", and "Runnin' Down a Dream". His work outside the group included composing and playing on the Don Henley hit "The Boys of Summer". Campbell, along with Neil Finn, joined Fleetwood Mac to replace lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham on their world tour in 2018-19.[1]

Early years[edit]

Campbell was born in Panama City, Florida. He grew up there and in Jacksonville, Florida, where he graduated from Jean Ribault High School in 1968. At 16, his mother bought him his first guitar, a Harmony acoustic model which he later described as "unplayable", from a pawnshop.[2] His first electric guitar was a $60 Guyatone, but playing a friend's Gibson SG (a model Campbell would not own himself for many years) was a transformative experience.[2] Like Tom Petty, Campbell drew his strongest influences from The Byrds and Bob Dylan, with additional inspiration coming from guitarists such as Scotty Moore, Luther Perkins, George Harrison, Carl Wilson, Jerry Garcia, Roger McGuinn, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Jimmy Page, Mick Taylor, and Neil Young. The first song he learned to play was "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," a song which appeared on Dylan's eponymous debut album. He formed a band named Dead or Alive which quickly disbanded.[3]

Campbell met Tom Petty through drummer Randall Marsh. Marsh was auditioning to be in Petty's band Mudcrutch and learned that Mudcrutch had recently lost their guitarist. He suggested that Petty try Campbell, who was his roommate and had actually been listening to the conversation in the next room.[4] Campbell impressed Petty with his version of Johnny B. Goode and was offered a spot in the band.[2] Mudcrutch became a very popular act around Gainesville and north Florida in the early 1970s. They relocated to Los Angeles in 1974 and signed a record deal with Shelter Records, but released only one poor-selling single and broke up soon after.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers[edit]

Campbell performing with Tom Petty at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in 2013

In 1976, Campbell rejoined Petty to found Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers along with former Mudcrutch member Benmont Tench (keyboards) along with Ron Blair (bass guitar) and Stan Lynch (drums).

Like the other players in the Heartbreakers, Campbell avoids the virtuoso approach to playing, preferring to have his work serve the needs of each song.[5] Guitar World magazine stated, "there are only a handful of guitarists who can claim to have never wasted a note. Mike Campbell is certainly one of them".[citation needed] He is a highly melodic player, often using two or three-strings-at-a-time leads instead of the more conventional one-at-a-time approach. Like Tench, he was heavily involved in constructing the arrangements for the Heartbreakers' tunes. And also like Tench, he prefers rawness to polish in the studio and onstage.

Campbell co-produced the Heartbreakers albums Southern Accents, Pack Up the Plantation: Live!, Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), Into the Great Wide Open, Songs and Music from "She's the One", Echo, The Last DJ, The Live Anthology and Mojo, as well as the Petty solo albums Full Moon Fever, Wildflowers, and Highway Companion.

Other projects[edit]

Campbell in 2010

Outside the Heartbreakers, Campbell has co-written and performed on songs including "The Boys of Summer" and "Heart of the Matter" with Don Henley. Other songwriting and performance credits include songs for the Blue Stingrays, Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac, Lone Justice, Roger McGuinn, Tracy Chapman, Warren Zevon, George Harrison, Stevie Nicks, John Prine, Bob Dylan, Restless Sleeper, Patti Scialfa, Brian Setzer, J. D. Souther, Jackson Browne, The Williams Brothers and Robin Zander. He produced four songs on Roy Orbison's Mystery Girl album and played guitar on The Wallflowers' "6th Avenue Heartache,"[6] as well as "My Sweet Passion", theme of Amy Rose from Sonic Adventure.[7]

In 2004, he recorded the guitar solo for the song "Los Angeles Is Burning" from the punk rock band Bad Religion's The Empire Strikes First album. In 2010 he recorded the solo for the song "Cyanide" on their 2010 album The Dissent of Man.

In 2007, he joined a reformed Mudcrutch with Petty, Tench, Tom Leadon and Randall Marsh. In 2008, he played banjo on the track "Love Song" from the album Earth to the Dandy Warhols by The Dandy Warhols. He played guitar and mandolin on Bob Dylan's 2009 album Together Through Life. On April 9, 2018, Fleetwood Mac announced that Campbell would be joining the band along with Neil Finn to replace lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham for their coming world tour.[1]

Recent projects[edit]

Campbell collaborated, recorded, and toured with Tom Petty for almost 50 years. His last live performance with the Heartbreakers was on September 25, 2017, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Tom Petty died unexpectedly about one week later, on October 2.[8] Campbell is involved with a side band, The Dirty Knobs. "It's rougher-edged [than Petty's material]," Campbell says of the group. "It's slightly over-driven, less polished, lots of Sixties influence: The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, The Animals. It's something I probably should have done a long time ago, but I didn't 'cause I was wrapped up in the Heartbreakers." Some Dirty Knobs material has been recorded. On March 4, 2019, in an interview on reverb.com he announced the release of a new album by year-end.

Campbell has been married to Marcie Weiss since March 24, 1974. They have two daughters, Brie and Kelsey (the latter of whom sang on the Full Moon Fever track "Zombie Zoo"), and a son, Darian.

November 11, 2011 Rolling Stone magazine named Mike Campbell to their top 100 guitarists coming in at number 79.[9]

Campbell was featured on "Starshine" and "I Don't Care" on Stevie Nicks' newest album 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault. He co-wrote "I Don't Care" with Nicks and Waddy Wachtel.


  1. ^ a b Aswad, Jem (April 9, 2018). "Fleetwood Mac to Tour With Neil Finn, Mike Campbell as Lindsey Buckingham's Replacements". Variety. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Gill, Chris (June 11, 2014). "Vision Quest: Mike Campbell Talks About New Tom Petty & Heartbreakers LP, 'Hypnotic Eye'". Guitar Player. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  3. ^ Andy Greene (September 13, 2018). "Mike Campbell's Life After Heartbreak". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  4. ^ Zanes, Warren (2016). Petty : the biography. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 1250105196.
  5. ^ Newton, Steve (August 14, 2014). "Meet Mike Campbell, the Underrated Guitar Genius Behind All Those Tom Petty Hits". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Sixth Avenue Heartache by The Wallflowers Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  7. ^ "WWCE-31338~9 | Passion & Pride: Anthems with Attitude from the Sonic..." VGMdb.net. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  8. ^ "Watch Tom Petty Play 'American Girl' at His Final Concert". Rolling Stone. 2017-10-03. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  9. ^ "Mike Campbell | 100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2017-03-28.

External links[edit]