Best known as a founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a keyboardist for their pre-Heartbreakers band Mudcrutch and a veteran session player who’s performed on the records of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello, among others, Benmont Tench spent most of his career playing outside the spotlight. But now the perennial sideman’s friends and colleagues are acting as his session players on “Blonde Girl, Blue Dress.”
On the single from his forthcoming album, You Should Be So Lucky, a project 37 years in the making, Tench taps Petty to play bass, Ringo Starr on tambourine and bluegrass duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings to sing. Tench wrote the song with Mudcrutch in mind, before deciding to cut it himself. Then he set about recruiting the musicians he wanted to play on it, a process that ran into a logistical difficulty.
“Originally we had Ringo set to play drums on it, but there was some kind of mix-up about dates and we were under the gun, so Jeremy Stacey stayed on the kit,” Tench tells Rolling Stone. “The next day Ringo rang up and said, ‘Let’s cut it!’ And we had a perfectly good take, but it was missing a certain something. I asked him to come put some jangle on it, he turned up 20 minutes later with a canvas bag full of tambourines, played it twice, and suddenly it all came into focus. He’s really something, that Ringo!”
You Should Be So Lucky is due out February 18th on the historic jazz label Blue Note Records, and available for pre-order here