Damn The Torpedoes will perform the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 31 in the Coolidge Theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts at 104 Main St. in Wellsboro. Among the 60-plus songs included in the tribute band’s repertoire are “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “You Got Lucky,” “The Waiting,” “Into The Great Wide Open,” and many more.
Petty and the Heartbreakers was an American rock band founded in 1976 in Gainesville, Fla. Original members included Petty as guitarist and lead singer, Mike Campbell as lead guitarist, Ron Blair on bass guitar, Stan Lynch on drums and Benmont Tench on keyboards.
Between 1982 and 2002, Howie Epstein played bass guitar and sang with the band. Epstein was 47 when he died on Feb. 23, 2003. Multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston joined in 1989. He sang harmony vocals and played guitar, bass, keyboards, and harmonica. Lynch left the band in 1994 and Steve Ferrone became the full-time drummer.
In 2017, Petty, Blair, Campbell, Ferrone, Tench and Thurston performed during the band’s 40th Anniversary Tour. It began on April 20 in Oklahoma City and ended on Sept. 25 at the Hollywood Bowl in California. A week later, on Oct. 2, 2017, Petty died. He was 66.
Ten years before Petty’s death, Rich Kubicz, then in his late 30s, decided to form the tribute band. Auditions were held and the new band played its first concert in early 2007. People became more interested in the tribute band after Petty and the Heartbreakers halftime performance on Feb. 3, 2008 during Super Bowl 42 in Arizona.
The tribute band’s name is taken from the title of Petty and the Heartbreakers’ third studio album released on October 20, 1979. “Damn The Torpedoes” was the group’s big breakthrough with “Don’t Do Me Like That” becoming the band’s first Top 10 single and “Refugee” in the Top 15. Their next three albums all went Top 10 and spawned a string of Top 40 singles. The album also sparked a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll during a period when punk and disco almost killed it.
In the show, Kubicz is the lead singer and plays guitar as Tom Petty. His friends and others have told him that he not only resembles Petty but also sings and plays like him. Kubicz’s goal in forming Damn The Torpedoes was for the band to play the Petty/Heartbreaker studio hits, some of the live versions and a few deep cuts to create a genuine concert experience for audiences. That means each band member has to replicate the same sounds made by his counterpart on the original Heartbreaker records and play that part note for note.
Over the years Damn The Torpedoes has evolved. The band’s current musicians have been performing together for approximately six years and demonstrate the unspoken chemistry of a great band. All of the signature riffs, harmonies and underlying parts of the music are there. They have a deeper understanding of the Tom Petty catalog so much so that the show has become “second nature” to them with an artistry and emotion that makes audiences smile. As Kubicz likes to say, “We deliver the ‘awe factor’ in every performance.”
Each member of Damn The Torpedoes is an experienced, professional musician who has been in the music industry for years. For the show, Jimi Alan is lead guitarist and replicates performances by the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell; Gary Castelluccio plays keyboards, piano, guitar and harmonica and is a backup singer as the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench and Scott Thurston; Jon Provan is on bass guitar and is a backup singer as Ron Blair and Howie Epstein; and Ross Kantor is on drums and is a backup singer as the Heartbreakers’ Stan Lynch and Steve Ferrone. Kantor’s versatility allows him to play with Lynch’s finesse and Ferrone’s power.
Tickets are $25. For more information and tickets, call the Deane Center at (570) 724-6220 or visit www.deanecenter.com.