October 19: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released Damn The Torpedoes in 1979

“…Tom Petty and his bar band defrilled classic rock: In 1979, he filed for bankruptcy; then Torpedoes took off, mostly because “Here Comes My Girl” seemed to keep the promises those like Jagger et al., forgot they’d made. Perfectly produced by future music-industry megamogul Jimmy Iovine, Torpedoes gave bright jangling Sixties rock a sheen that made pretty much everything else on AOR radio seem lumpy and stiff, while Petty’s obvious authenticity kept the music from ever seeming calculated or overly”
– Rolling Stone

I got this album on vinyl in January 1980, it is still my favourite Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers album.

Damn the Torpedoes is the third studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released on October 19, 1979. It built on the commercial success and critical acclaim of his two previous albums and reached #2 on the Billboard album chart. The album went on to become certified Triple Platinum.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 313 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and 315 in a 2012 revised list. It is at 231 on the 2020 list from Rolling Stone magazine. It’s climbing!

Great documentary on Damn The Torpedoes in The Classic Album series , Part 1:

Damn The Torpedoes in The Classic Album series , Part 2  (extended, additional material):

“Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers made music that still befuddles critics: they were too chill to be punk, and too famous to be underdogs. Petty was too unassuming a superstar to be Springsteen, and though he was equally gnomic and cantankerous, he was far too lyrically judicious to be Dylan. They were a singles band who made great albums and a “heartland” band from L.A. via Gainesville.”
– Pitchfork (9.2/10)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Refugee, Live in Concert @ Santa Monica, CA (1978) New Years Eve:

” Petty & the Heartbreakers delivered their breakthrough and arguably their masterpiece with Damn the Torpedoes. Musically, it follows through on the promise of their first two albums, offering a tough, streamlined fusion of the Stones and Byrds that, thanks to Jimmy Iovine’s clean production, sounded utterly modern yet timeless. It helped that the Heartbreakers had turned into a tighter, muscular outfit, reminiscent of, well, the Stones in their prime … Few mainstream rock albums of the late ’70s and early ’80s were quite as strong as this, and it still stands as one of the great records of the album rock era.”
– Allmusic

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Damn The Torpedoes (Spotify):

The Heartbreakers

  • Tom Petty – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, producer
  • Mike Campbell – guitars (lead, rhythm, bass), keyboards
  • Benmont Tench – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Ron Blair – bass guitar
  • Stan Lynch – drums, backing vocals

Session musicians

  • Donald “Duck” Dunn – bass guitar on “You Tell Me”
  • Jim Keltner (uncredited) – percussion on “Refugee”


  • Jimmy Iovine – producer
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Shelly Yakus – engineer
  • John Mathias – assistant engineer
  • Thom Panunzio – assistant engineer
  • Gray Russell – assistant engineer
  • Skip Saylor – assistant engineer
  • Tori Swenson – assistant engineer

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