Benmont Tench was “shocked” when Tom Petty died unexpectedly almost a year ago, on Oct. 2. “We were all shocked. Shocked is not the word…shocked doesn’t even approach how we all felt,” the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist told EW.
Tench, who’s played with Petty since his Mudcrutch days starting in 1972, says that even up until the week he’d passed that Petty had been talking about next steps — and tours — for the band, who were very freshly off their 40th anniversary stint.
For one, Petty had been toying with the idea of a Wildflowers tour, revisiting his 1994 set that featured hits like “You Wreck Me” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” Tench said Petty imagined singing much of the album, but adding special guest singers to tackle particular songs, and to have these singers on the tour for the full jaunt. Tench thought they would cover the complete 15-track album “which was originally enough material for a double CD — not all of which made the record, some of which [wound] up on the She’s the One record and some of which never came out to this day.”
Petty also considered potentially sizing down from stadiums to “smaller venues, maybe something the size of the Beacon in New York” for the outing.
Tench didn’t specify which guest singers Petty had in mind. But the way things had gone for the 40th anniversary stint, “We came off the tour all very pleased with the way the band was playing.”
Tench, with his Heartbreakers cohort Mike Campbell, engineer Ryan Ulyate, Petty’s wife Dana, and his daughter Adria worked in collaboration on An American Treasure, a 4-disc box set of rarities, alternate takes, live versions, and more songs from Tom Petty’s songwriting vaults.
Read the rest of Tench’s Q&A with EW here.