Benmont Tench Recalls 'Circle Of Life Lesson' Following Tom Petty's Death

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Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench was expecting a call about the next tour in early-October of 2017 when his phone rang with much worse news.

His collaborator and bandmate of over 40 years, Tom Petty, was in the hospital, after being found in his home unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest. Tom was pronounced dead a day later.

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Tench juxtaposed the agony of Tom's death with the joy that came a few weeks later when his daughter was born.

"Catherine came in December, Tom died in October," Tench recalled. "It was not the circle-of-life lesson that I wanted. It really wasn't. I'd rather go watch The Lion King! But it was an extraordinary experience. It saved me, having my daughter. It let me not go, 'Holy s--t. My world is fallen apart.' Tom was the last person in the band that I expected ever to go. He was the very last person. But because I had a daughter coming. I had to take care of my wife."

Tench and Tom met in high school and began playing in bands together when they were teenagers. While Tench's career also brought him gigs with other legends like Stevie Nicks, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Cyndi Lauper, his main priority was always Tom and the Heartbreakers.

"...[T]hat was my singer," Tench said of Tom. "He was also someone I looked up to enormously."

He went on to describe life after the Heartbreakers as an "alternate universe." Thankfully, he has his family to ground him, he said.

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