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Benjamin Montmorency "Benmont" Tench III (born September 7, 1953) is an American keyboardist best known as a founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Benmont Tench
Benmont Tench, 2017-08-28.jpg
Tench performing in 2017
Background information
Birth name Benjamin Montmorency Tench III
Born (1953-09-07) September 7, 1953 (age 64)
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
Genres Rock, country
Instruments Piano, organ, synthesizer, vocals
Years active 1974–present
Associated acts Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stevie Nicks, Mudcrutch, Don Henley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Works Progress Administration

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Tench was born in Gainesville, Florida, the second child of Benjamin Montmorency Tench Jr. and Mary Catherine McInnis Tench. His father was born and raised in Gainesville, and served as a circuit court judge.[1]

Tench played piano from an early age and his first recital was at age six. After discovering the music of The Beatles, he ended his classical piano lessons and focused on rock and roll. At age 11, he met Tom Petty for the first time at a Gainesville music store. Petty and Tench played together as members of the Sundowners in 1964.[2] The Tench family's garage was a frequent practice site for the band on evenings when his father was out. Tench's mother enjoyed having the boys there, but would check with the neighbors to make certain the music would not disturb them.[3]

EducationEdit

He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and subsequently Tulane University in New Orleans.[4] While on a college break, Tench went to a concert by Mudcrutch, Petty's band, with an opening act from nearby Jacksonville, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Afterwards, he sat in with the band on several different sessions, then went back to school. Soon after, Petty called Tench and asked him to quit school and join Mudcrutch full-time, which after long deliberation, Tench agreed to; but before he would leave school, Petty had to convince Tench's father that his son had a promising music career.[5]

Music careerEdit

Mudcrutch eventually evolved into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.[6]

In addition to playing piano and Hammond organ with the Heartbreakers, Tench is also known as a skilled session musician, having recorded with dozens of notable artists.[7]

Songs written by Tench and recorded by other artists include "You Little Thief", a top 5 UK and Australian hit for Feargal Sharkey in 1985, (written about his affair with Maria McKee, in response to her song "A Good Heart") and "Never Be You" (co-written with Petty), which became a #1 US Country hit for Rosanne Cash, also in 1985. Tench has received two ASCAP songwriting awards: in 1995 for "Stay Forever" (performed by Hal Ketchum) and in 2001 for "Unbreakable Heart" (performed by Jessica Andrews). This was also recorded by Carlene Carter in the early 1990s. He also wrote songs for Kimmie Rhodes ("Play Me A Memory") and Lone Justice ("Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)").

Other bands and solo careerEdit

In 2008, Tench became part of a supergroup, initially named The Scrolls, now officially known as Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). The band is composed of Tench, Sean Watkins (guitar), Sara Watkins (fiddle), Glen Phillips (guitar, vocals), Luke Bulla (fiddle), Greg Leisz (various), Pete Thomas (drums), and Davey Faragher (bass). The group released a self-titled album in September 2009.[8] Tench penned one of the songs on the album, named "The Price," sung by Sara Watkins and himself.

Tench has worked extensively with other musicians, playing keyboards on hundreds of songs on albums such as Stevie Nicks' Bella Donna, Bob Dylan's Shot of Love, along with other musical greats such as Johnny Cash, Alanis Morissette, Eurythmics, Fionna Apple, U2, among many more. [9]

In 2009, Tench frequently appeared with the Watkins Family Hour at Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles. He has also appeared at the Largo and at the Fillmore in San Francisco as a special guest with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and accompanied the Dave Rawlings Machine on part of their west coast tour in spring 2010. In 2015, the Watkins Family Hour released their debut album and went on a national tour.[10]

In 2014, Tench released his first solo album, entitled You Should Be So Lucky.[11] Tench also added keyboard parts to Stevie Nicks' album 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault.

In 2016, he played the Fleetwood Mac tribute at the Fonda Theater, in Los Angeles; he performed the song "Silver Springs" with Courtney Love. Tench also appears on the bill for a tribute to the band Big Star that took place in Los Angeles, CA, in April 2016 (together with members of R.E.M, Wilco and Semisonic).[12] Tench also reunited with Mudcrutch to record the band's second album, Mudcrutch 2. The band embarked on their American tour on May 26, 2016. [13] [14]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1993, Tench married model Courtney Taylor. They divorced in late 1999. In 2015 Tench married his second wife, author Alice Carbone.[15]

ReferencesEdit