Mike Campbell (musician)

Michael Wayne Campbell (born February 1, 1950) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. Campbell was a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and co-wrote many of the band's hits with Petty, including "Refugee", "Here Comes My Girl", "You Got Lucky", and "Runnin' Down a Dream". His work outside the group includes composing and playing on the Don Henley hit "The Boys of Summer". Campbell, along with Neil Finn, joined Fleetwood Mac to replace lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham on their world tour in 2018–2019.[1]

Mike Campbell
Tiny globe
Campbell performing with Fleetwood Mac in 2019
Background information
Birth nameMichael Wayne Campbell
Born (1950-02-01) February 1, 1950 (age 71)
OriginJacksonville, Florida, U.S.
InstrumentsGuitar, Vocals
Years active1971–present
Associated acts

November 11, 2011 Rolling Stone magazine named Mike Campbell to their top 100 guitarists coming in at number 79.[2] He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 as a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Early yearsEdit

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, his mother bought him his first guitar, a Harmony acoustic model which he later described as "unplayable", from a pawnshop.[3] His first electric guitar was a $60 Guyatone, but playing a friend's Gibson SG (a model Campbell would not own himself for many years) was a transformative experience.[3] 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.[4]

Campbell met Tom Petty through drummer Randall Marsh. Marsh was auditioning to be in Petty's band Mudcrutch and learned that Mudcrutch had recently lost their guitarist. He suggested that Petty try Campbell, who was his roommate and had actually been listening to the conversation in the next room.[5] Campbell impressed Petty with his version of Johnny B. Goode and was offered a spot in the band.[3] Mudcrutch became a very popular act around Gainesville and north Florida in the early 1970s. They relocated to Los Angeles in 1974 and signed a record deal with Shelter Records, but released only one poor-selling single and broke up soon after.

Tom Petty & The HeartbreakersEdit

Campbell performing with Tom Petty at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2013

In 1976, Campbell rejoined Petty to found Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with former Mudcrutch member Benmont Tench (keyboards) along with Ron Blair (bass guitar) and Stan Lynch (drums).

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.[6] Guitar World magazine stated, "there are only a handful of guitarists who can claim to have never wasted a note. Mike Campbell is certainly one of them".[citation needed] 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. Like Tench, he was 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.

Campbell collaborated, recorded, and toured with Tom Petty for almost 50 years. His last live performance with the Heartbreakers was on September 25, 2017, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Tom Petty died unexpectedly about one week later, on October 2.[7]

Other projectsEdit

Campbell in 2010

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,"[8] as well as "My Sweet Passion", theme of Amy Rose from Sonic Adventure.[9]

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.

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. On April 9, 2018, Fleetwood Mac announced that Campbell would be joining the band along with Neil Finn to replace lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham for their coming world tour.[1]

The Dirty KnobsEdit

While in the Heartbreakers, Campbell played with a side band, the Dirty Knobs, with guitarist Jason Sinay, drummer Matt Laug and bassist Lance Morrison.[10] "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."[11] In January 2020, "Wreckless Abandon", the title track from the forthcoming Dirty Knobs album was released.[12]


With Stevie Nicks

With Roy Orbison

With Jeffrey Osborne

  • One Human (Arista Records, 1990)

With Linda Ronstadt

  • We Ran (Elektra Records, 1998)

With Joe Cocker

With Don Henley

With Philip Bailey

With Patti Scialfa

With Melba Moore

With Matthew Sweet

With Susanna Hoffs

With Stephanie Mills

With Rob Thomas

With Paul Carrack

With Mary J. Blige

With Michael McDonald

With Tracy Chapman

With Randy Newman

With Paula Abdul

With Bob Dylan

With Chris Stapleton

With Tift Merritt

With Christine Lakeland

  • Reckoning (Virgin Records, 1993)

With Warren Zevon

With Aretha Franklin

With Jackson Browne

With Jennifer Holliday

With Bob Seger

With Tom Petty

With John Prine

With Neil Diamond

With Dixie Chicks


  1. ^ a b Aswad, Jem (April 9, 2018). "Fleetwood Mac to Tour With Neil Finn, Mike Campbell as Lindsey Buckingham's Replacements". Variety. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  2. ^ "Mike Campbell | 100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. December 18, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Gill, Chris (June 11, 2014). "Vision Quest: Mike Campbell Talks About New Tom Petty & Heartbreakers LP, 'Hypnotic Eye'". Guitar Player. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  4. ^ Andy Greene (September 13, 2018). "Mike Campbell's Life After Heartbreak". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  5. ^ Zanes, Warren (2016). Petty : the biography. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 1250105196.
  6. ^ Newton, Steve (August 14, 2014). "Meet Mike Campbell, the Underrated Guitar Genius Behind All Those Tom Petty Hits". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  7. ^ "Watch Tom Petty Play 'American Girl' at His Final Concert". Rolling Stone. October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  8. ^ "Sixth Avenue Heartache by The Wallflowers Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved September 6, 2008.
  9. ^ "WWCE-31338~9 | Passion & Pride: Anthems with Attitude from the Sonic..." VGMdb.net. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  10. ^ Balancia, Donna (July 6, 2019). "Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs prep new tunes". California Rocker. Los Angeles. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  11. ^ Heller, Greg (August 31, 2001). "Petty in the Studio". Rolling Stone. NYC. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Balancia, Donna (January 13, 2020). "Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs release 'Wreckless Abandon' Single and Video". California Rocker. Los Angeles. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

External linksEdit