The Tom Petty Song That Made Mike Campbell Leave Town


Tom Petty gained recognition as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, formed in 1976. They had numerous hit singles such as ‘Breakdown,’ ‘American Girl,’ and ‘Refugee’ over the years. The group adopted southern and heartland rock like other musicians, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger, in the 1970s and 1980s.

As the lead vocalist and guitarist, Tom Petty was the writer of many successful songs for the band. In addition to him, guitarist Mike Campbell wrote the band’s many famous tracks. One of these songs Petty and Campbell worked on made the guitar player want to leave the city because of the hardships in its recording process.

Which Tom Petty Song Made Mike Campbell Leave The City?


Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ third studio album, released in 1979, had commercial success with the songs like ‘Refugee,’ ‘Here Comes My Girl,’ and ‘Even The Losers.’ Regardless of reaching number 15 on Billboard Hot 100 chart, the single ‘Refugee‘ was challenging for the band because of its though recording process.

While Campbell talked about the song’s writing, he indicated that it was an easy process in a past interview with the Georgia Straight. As Campbell said, after he created the music, he took it to Petty to write its lyrics. When Petty completed the writing process, they did not change any chords as they liked the original version.

Campbell explained in his words:

“I just wrote the music and handed it to Tom, and he put the words over it, and when he did, he found a way to make the chorus lift up without changing chords. I like songs that are like that.”

However, the recording session was not as easy as the writing process. Jimmy Iovine, hired for the recording sessions, used his unique methods. They constantly re-recorded the song, especially the drum parts. Moreover, this process caused the firing of Stan Lynch. However, the team wanted him back because the recording with other drummers did not go well as they wanted.

In a past interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Petty and Campbell stated that they recorded ‘Refugee’ almost 200 times, although they quickly created the song and the music. Campbell was very disappointed by the recording process that he left the studio and then the city to move away from the chaos during a session.

According to Rolling Stone, Mike Campbell explained:

“I remember being so frustrated. I just left the studio and went out of town for two days.”

Later on, when Campbell came back, they continued where they left off. They eventually completed the whole recording session. Although the process of creating ‘Refugee’ started very smoothly and continued hard, it is still one of the most successful and popular songs of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

You can listen to the song below.