Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' Benmont Tench Releases Solo Album

(Radio.com) If you're a fan of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, you know him. He's been playing keyboards for that band since they started in 1976. Or, if you're the type who reads liner notes, you definitely know his name. He's played on records by, among many others, Johnny Cash, U2, Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, the Rolling Stones, Don Henley and that is merely the tip of this particular iceberg.

But it's only this week that Benmont Tench is releasing his very first solo album, You Should Be So Lucky. Certainly, the man has had a full dance card over the years, between his day job and the fact that he remains a very in-demand session keyboardist. Why did it take so long to do a solo record?

"I'm pretty shy and I'm not seeking the spotlight," he tells Radio.com. "I like having a big grand piano to hide behind when I'm playing with the Heartbreakers."

There's also the company that he keeps, which can be intimidating to anyone who calls themselves a songwriter: "I first sat in with Tom when I was 17. So, I've been around a top-notch songwriter my entire life: I'm sixty. It's daunting when you're a songwriter… I was fortunate enough to work with Bob Dylan, to work with John Prine. I've worked with Rosanne [Cash]. I've worked with Johnny Cash. And then you say, 'I've got these little songs.'" Being rather humble, he doesn't mention here that one of his "little songs" was a number 1 country hit for Rosanne Cash: "Never Be You." He revisits another song he wrote for her, "Why Don't You Quit Leaving Me Alone," on You Should Be So Lucky.

While Tench takes lead vocals on this album, hardcore Heartbreakers fans have heard him on the mic before. He sang lead on "This Is A Good Street," from Mudcrutch's 2008 reunion album. Mudcrutch was the band that Petty, Tench and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell played in before they formed their current group. Petty often says he'd like to do another Mudcrutch album, and Tench would love to see that happen as well.

"I'm really dying to do it. It's a real blessing to be in two of my favorite bands. I was a fan of Mudcrutch: I used to follow them around and see them long before I joined. I'd love to bring Mudcrutch all over the country," he says, noting that their '08 tour was restricted to the West Coast.

These days, he's still an in-demand keyboardist, having played on recent releases by the Beach Boys, the Avett Brothers and Aaron Neville, to name a few. He told us about an ill-fated studio gig with, of all people, Bob Dylan for the Shot Of Love album.

"Jimmy Iovine produced one track," he says, mentioning the Interscope Records/Beats headphones mogul, who, back in the '80s, was the producer of choice of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks, among others. "It isn't on the record, it's called 'Caribbean Wind.' He brought me along for that. He proceeded to leave during the session because of some disagreement with Bob. Without telling me he was leaving! So, I'm in a room with Bob Dylan, who I've never met before, and a slew of other great musicians, who I've never met before. It's not a big deal session," he demurs. "It's just Bob." Tench and the Heartbreakers would go on to back Bob Dylan on a tour a few years later; Dylan's "Duquesne Whistle" is one of two covers on Tench's new album (the other being the traditional "Corrnia Corrina"). more on this story

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