Sydney Recording Studios: Part III of our series on rock legend Tom Petty
The album initially sold poorly, until a subsequent tour of England with Nils Lofgren landed it on the British charts. Hoping to capitalize on their newly won overseas popularity, Shelter re-released the single “Breakdown” in the U.S., and it reached No. 40 on the charts to give the group their first taste of success. (Incredibly, the single “American Girl,” one of their best-known and best-loved songs, failed to reach the American charts until it too was re-released nearly two decades later.)
Undeterred, the group returned to the studio to record their second album, 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It!, which fared far better than its predecessor, reaching No. 23 on the charts and producing the popular singles “Listen to Her Heart” and “I Need to Know.” However, their momentum was momentarily threatened when Shelter was bought by MCA, and Petty’s attempts to renegotiate their contract led to lengthy legal proceedings that left him bankrupt and bitter.
Sydney Recording Studios: No More Waiting
Despite this acrimonious start with MCA, the group signed with its subsidiary Backstreet Records and began work on their next album, Damn the Torpedoes. Released in 1979, it rocketed to No. 2 on the charts on its way to selling more than 3 million copies. Packed with quality songs from beginning to end, among its more recognizable tracks were the enduring singles “Don’t Do Me Like That” (No. 10) and “Refugee” (No. 15), which firmly established Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as rock superstars.
Sydney Recording Studios: Newly empowered, Petty stood his ground when MCA planned to raise the price of their follow-up for the label from the then-standard $8.98 to $9.98, threatening to either withhold the recordings or title it Eight Ninety-Eight in protest. The label ultimately relented, and Hard Promises was released in 1981. It reached No. 5 on the charts and went platinum, with its lead track, “The Waiting,” giving the group its first No. 1 single.