Here’s a guy who is a founding member of one of the biggest rock and roll bands in the world. That would be enough for most folks, right? But Benmont might just be the most restless, searching musician I know. It’s like his life has been an immersion program in music. At their invitation, he’s been in the room with legends from every generation, playing his ass off, learning everything he can from every player he meets. And, believe me, it’s all stored in his mind, ready to come out his fingertips. He turns up everywhere . . . and when he does, things always get more musical.
– Don Was
The world of popular music has known some great sidemen. Hal Blaine, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer, James Burton. They made records with the Frank Sinatras and the Elvis Presleys of the world, along with what seems to be almost every other artist from the fifties to the seventies. They were the best. But sidemen like that belong to an earlier era. For various reasons, in our own time we don’t have the same community of session musicians, neither the caliber nor the quantity. But there are a few players out there, musicians who show up on credits of all kinds, who carry this tradition forward. Benmont Tench is one of them. But his situation is all the more interesting because, first and foremost, he’s the member of a band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Here’s a guy who has had a lot going on, for a long time.