Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: ‘Pack Up The Plantation’


Tom Petty was born in 1950 and first became attracted to the growing phenomena of rock’n’roll by Elvis Presley, but the knockout blow for young Petty was seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.  That was it for him, from this point onwards it was bands and rock’n’roll music all the way.

In 1967, at the age of 17, Petty dropped out of high school and started playing in local groups in his home town of Gainesville, Florida, including the almost successful Mudcrutch.  But then things changed and the band Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers was formed.

The self titled first album (1976) was moderately successful in Gainesville, and the follow up “You’re Gonna’ Get It” (1978) did not fare much better.  Both these albums when listened to today miss that certain spark.  Well the third one, with the delightful title of “Damn The Torpedoes” (1979) and propelled by hit single “Refugee”, had that spark and caused raptures all over the world.  The rise to prominence started on a tour of the United Kingdom, but was quickly taken up by the Americans and the rest of the world; the third album reaching platinum success almost instantly and a star was born.

From that point onwards every album became more and more successful, culminating in Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ final album “Hypnotic Eye” (2014) becoming the band’s first world-wide number one smash hit.

Of course this is not the complete story.  Petty also had a solo career away from the Heartbreakers including various hits and dalliances with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, and who can forget the incredible duet they performed on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”.

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Petty also had time to have an acting career as well as forming the ultimate super group, the Traveling Wilburys with Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and himself.  It’s more than your average rock star can cram into ten careers.  Sadly Tom Petty died in October 2017 at the age of 66, another great talent taken from us way too early.

My favorite Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album is “Pack up the Plantation” as although it includes many of his hits it also features some rarities, and some amazing covers, including a superb version of The Searchers hit “Needles and Pins” in duet with Stevie Nicks.  Nicks also gets up and duets with the band on “Insider”, much to the crowds’ delight.

On relative rarity “Breakdown” the crowd actually take over the singing for the first two verses, word perfect, to which Petty jokingly replies, “you’re gonna put me out of a job.”

Tom Petty in 1976.
Tom Petty in 1976.

There is a nine minute rock out on “Shout” as well, which is just so full of rock’n’roll it positively brims over.  The audience and band are all having such a riot it’s difficult to know who exactly is having the better time.  This is Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at the top of their game in front of a live audience.  Rock Music at its best! – 5 stars.

Main Musicians:

Tom Petty – 6 & 12 string guitars, electric guitar and lead vocals

Mike Campbell – lead guitar and vocals

Howie Epstein – bass guitar and vocals

Benmont Tench – keyboards and vocals

Stan Lynch – drums

Stevie Nicks – vocals

Album Tracks:

So You Wanna’ Be A Rock’n’Roll Star

Needles and Pins

The Waiting


American Girl

It Ain’t Nothing To Me



Rockin’Around with You


I Need To Know

Southern Accents


Don’t Bring Me Down

You Got Lucky


Stories We Could Tell

Note: Written by Mott The Dog and Hells Bells. Mott The Dog can often be found off the lead at Jameson’s The Irish pub, Soi AR in North Pattaya.