Benmont Tench

Benjamin Montmorency (Benmont) Tench, III (born September 7, 1953) an American keyboardist, best known as a founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, along with Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Ron Blair of the current lineup.

Early years

Benmont was born in Gainesville, Florida, the second child of Benjamin Montmorency Tench, Jr. (October 23, 1919 - April 25, 2005) and Mary Catherine McInnis Tench (September 21, 1924 - March 26, 2003). [ Gainesville Sun: April 28, 2005-Longtime attorney, judge Tench dies] ] His father was born and raised in Gainesville, graduated from P.K. Yonge Laboratory School, was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Europe during World War II, then earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1947. His parents married in 1950 and had three girls in addition to Benmont:
*"Lauchlin Tench Waldoch" is a board-certified Elder Law attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
*"Nancy Darby Tench Leicht" is an operatic singer and Professor at the University of New Hampshire where she teaches Italian language.
*"Rachel Isabel Tench" lives in Gainesville and is the development coordinator for the Harn Museum of Art

Early Music

Benmont 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. He met Tom Petty for the first time at a Gainesville music store when he was 11. Petty and Tench played together as members of the "Sundowners" in 1964. [ [ Gainesville Sun: September 20, 2006-Memories of Petty: How singer found way in area by Alice Wallace] ] The Tench's garage was a frequent practice site for the band on evenings when Benmont's father, high-profile Judge Benjamin M. Tench, Jr. was out for the evening. Benmont's mother, Mary Catherine, enjoyed having the boys there, but he would check with the neighbors to make certain the music wouldn't disturb them. [ [ Gainesville Sun: October 12, 2007-Garage band memories by Beth Abbott] ]


Benmont went north to New Hampshire for boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy, then attended Tulane University in New Orleans. 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, Benmont agreed, but before he would leave school, Petty had to convince Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Tench that his son had a promising music career. [ [ Wild Blue Gator: Bio-Benmont Tench] ]

Professional Musician

Mudcrutch eventually evolved into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. [ [,1,4046347.story LA Times: April 27, 2008-Tom Petty returns to his roots with Mudcrutch by Geoff Boucher] ]

Other bands he was in include: The Apathetics, the MiffMole Band, and Tuna Fish and Larry.

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, including Johnny Cash, U2, Elisa, Stevie Nicks, Sam Phillips, You Am I, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Don Henley, Ringo Starr, John Fogerty, The Screaming Trees, The Tragically Hip, Alanis Morissette, Green Day, The Cult, The Jayhawks, Fiona Apple, Lone Justice, Sean Watkins, New Found Glory, Tift Merritt and Powderfinger, as well as many others.

Other 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 late 1990's. He also wrote songs for Kimmie Rhodes (Play Me A Memory) and Lone Justice (Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling).

Current activity

In January 2008, it was reported by Billboard that a new supergroup octet tentatively named "The Scrolls" had formed. The octet is composed of Tench, Sean Watkins (guitar), his sister Sara Watkins (fiddle), Glen Phillips (guitar, vocals), Luke Bulla (fiddle), Greg Leisz (various), Pete Thomas (drums), and Davey Faragher (bass). The group plans to have an album out by fall of this year.Graff, Gary. [ "Heartbreakers, Imposters, Nickel Creekers Make The Scrolls"] "Billboard" January 18, 2008. Retrieved January 20, 2008.]


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