Mike Campbell (musician)

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Mike Campbell
Mike Campbell, June 2016.jpg
Campbell performing in 2016
Background information
Birth name Michael Wayne Campbell
Born (1950-02-01) February 1, 1950 (age 67)
Origin Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Genres Rock
Instruments Guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, violin, ukulele, vocals
Years active 1971–present
Associated acts Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Don Henley, The Blue Stingrays, The Dirty Knobs, Mudcrutch, Stevie Nicks

Michael Wayne Campbell (born February 1, 1950) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and record producer, best known for his work in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

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, he bought his first guitar, a cheap Harmony model, from a pawnshop. His first electric guitar was a $60 Guyatone. 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. Campbell first met Petty through Mudcrutch drummer Randall Marsh when they were auditioning him and he suggested his friend Mike to play rhythm guitar.

Campbell's autograph on a 1975 "Mudcrutch" 45.

Mudcrutch moved to L.A. and signed a record deal with Shelter Records, recording an album in 1974 that ended up being shelved. Campbell then joined Petty to found the original Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1975 along with Benmont Tench (keyboards), Ron Blair (bass guitar) and Stan Lynch (drums).

The Heartbreakers[edit]

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. Guitar World magazine noted "there are only a handful of guitarists who can claim to have never wasted a note. Mike Campbell is certainly one of them". 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. "People have told me that my playing sounds like bagpipes," he muses. "I'm not exactly sure what that means." His estimation of his own style is typically modest: "I don't think people can really top Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton as far as lead guitar goes. I like my playing to bring out the songs." Like Tench, he is 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]

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,"[1] as well of "My Sweet Passion", theme of Amy Rose from Sonic Adventure.[2]

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.

The Gorge, June 2010.

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.

Campbell performing live in Columbus, Ohio, June 2006

In 2017 Campbell produced Marty Stuart's album Way Out West.

Recent projects[edit]

Campbell toured and worked on albums with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as late as 2017. Campbell's last live performance with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, before Petty's death on October 2, 2017, was on September 25, 2017, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.[3]

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.

Campbell has been married to Marcie Campbell 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.[4]

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.


External links[edit]