Benmont Tench About
Benjamin Montmorency “Benmont” Tench III is an American musician and singer, best known as a founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He was born in Gainesville, Florida (September 7, 1953).
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. 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 was not disturbing them.
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. Mudcrutch eventually evolved into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
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.
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, 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)”).