Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever

Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever

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Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever
Tom Petty Full Moon Fever.jpg
Studio album by Tom Petty
Released April 24, 1989
Recorded 1988–89 at M.C. Studios, Rumbo Studios, Sunset Sound, Devonshire Studios, Conway Studios and Sound City Studios
  • Heartland rock
  • rock and roll
Length 39:58
Label MCA
  • Jeff Lynne
  • Tom Petty
  • Mike Campbell
Tom Petty chronology
Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)
Full Moon Fever
Into the Great Wide Open
Singles from Full Moon Fever
  1. "I Won't Back Down"
    Released: April 1989
  2. "Runnin' Down a Dream"
    Released: July 29, 1989
  3. "Free fallin'"
    Released: October 27, 1989
  4. "A Face in the Crown"
    Released: March 3, 1990
  5. "Yer So Bad"
    Released: 1990


  "Full Moon Fever" is the debut solo studio album by Tom Petty, released on April 24, 1989 by MCA Records. It features contributions from members of his backing band the Heartbreakers, notably Mike Campbell, along with Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison (who died prior to its release), and George harrison of the Traveling Wilburys. The record shows Petty exploring his musical roots with nods to his influences. The songwriting is mainly collaborations between Petty and Lynne, who was also a producer on the album. The album became a commercial and critical success peaking at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and being certified 5× platinum in the United States and 6× platinum in Canada.


Background and recording

Having earlier in the year finished a Heartbreakers tour behind the album "Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)", Petty decided to record a solo album without the Heartbreakers (similar to the arrangement between Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at the time). This stirred some controversy among members of the Heartbreakers, although all but drummer Stan Lynch contributed to the album. Benmont Tench and Howie Epstein initially were not happy about playing the "Full Moon Fever" songs live during Heartbreakers concerts. Stan Lynch hated playing them right up until his departure from the band, saying it made him feel like he was in a cover band.

The recording process was a low-key affair, with many of Petty's friends contributing, including the members of the Traveling Wilburys, minus Bob Dylan. Recorded mainly in the relaxed atmosphere of Mike Campbell's garage studio, Petty would later say it was the most enjoyable record of his career. Recording of "Full Moon Fever" was actually interrupted to allow time for recording of the first Wilburys' album. A few songs recorded during the sessions did not make the "Full Moon Fever" album. "Down the Line" and "Don't Treat Me Like A Stranger" were released as B-sides. "Waiting for Tonight" features the Bangles and was released on the box set "Playback". During the sessions, Petty wrote "Indiana Girl", an early draft of what would eventually become "Mary Jane's last Dance".

Musical style and themes

The album is noted for being heavily influenced by Jeff Lynne, resulting in a cleaner and glossier version of the Heartbreakers roots rock from previous albums. Lynne incorporated layers of keyboards and backing vocals, giving it a Beatlesque feel. The songs show Petty paying dues to his influences with a Byrds cover ("I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better") and a nod to Del Shannon in "Runnin' Down a Dream". Other songs, such as "Free Fallin'", show Petty addressing nostalgia on his rise to fame. "A Mind With a Heart of Its Own" uses a Bo Diddley-style rhythm, while "The Apartment Song" features an instrumental break with paradiddle drumming reminiscent of Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue".

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars
Blender 4/5 stars
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars
The Essential Rock Discography 7/10
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars
MusicHound 4.5/5
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars
The Village Voice B+

The album, which became Petty's commercial peak as an artist, was helped by favorable critical reviews and three hit singles. The album was released on April 24, 1989 and rose to eventually peak at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and No. 8 in the UK. Five singles were released from the album; two hit the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and three topped the U.S. Mainstream rock chart. The RIAA certified Full Moon Fever 5x platinum on October 5, 2000 in the US and the CRIA certified it 6× platinum on September 18, 1991 in Canada.

Critical praise was generally high, with AllMusic giving the album 4-and-a-half stars, admiring the craft of the album and rivaling it with the Heartbreakers' "Damn the Torpedoes". This review notes there are no weak tracks on the album, calling it a "minor masterpiece". The original Rolling Stone review compared the album favorably to the Traveling Wilburys' debut, "Travelling Wilbury's Vol. 1", saying it has the "same restless charm", but commenting that Full Moon Fever at times seems "sprawling". The review claims the album is "another rewarding, low-key side project for Petty", giving it three-and-a-half stars out of five. A later Rolling Stone biographer claims Full Moon Fever was a "masterful solo album". It was ranked number 92 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s.

Track listing

All songs written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, except as indicated.

  1. "Free Fallin'" – 4:14
  2. "I Won't Back Down" – 2:56
  3. "Love Is a Long Road" (Petty, Mike Campbell) – 4:06
  4. "A Face in the Crowd" – 3:58
  5. "Runnin' Down a Dream" (Petty, Lynne, Campbell) – 4:23
  6. "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" (Gene clark) – 2:47
  7. "Ter So Bad" – 3:05
  8. "Depending on You" (Petty) – 2:47
  9. "The Apartment Song" (Petty) – 2:31
  10. "Alright for Now" (Petty) – 2:00
  11. "A Mind with a Heart of Its Own" – 3:29
  12. "Zombie Zoo" – 2:56




  • Tom Petty – lead and backing vocals, 6 and 12 string acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, tambourine
  • Mike Campbell – lead guitar, bass, mandolin, slide guitar, dobro, keyboards
  • Jeff Lynne – bass, guitar, guitar synthesizer, piano, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Phil Jones – drums, percussion
Additional musicians
  • George Harrison – acoustic guitar and backing vocals on "I Won't Back Down"
  • Jim Keltner – drums, maracas and tambourine on "Love Is a Long Road"
  • Benmont Tench – piano on "The Apartment Song"
  • Howie Epstein – backing vocals on "I Won't Back Down" and "Love Is a Long Road"
  • Roy Orbison – backing vocals on "Zombie Zoo"
  • Kelsey Campbell – scream on "Zombie Zoo"
  • Alan Weidel, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty – hand claps on "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"
  • Del Shannon – barnyard noises in the "Hello, CD listeners …" interlude
Production personnel
  • Produced by Jeff Lynne with Tom Petty and Mike Campbell
  • Engineers: Mike Campbell, Don Smith, Bill Bottrell and Dennis Kirk on "Love Is a Long Road"
  • Assistant engineer: Alan "Bugs" Weidel
  • Mastered by Steve Hall


Year Single US Billboard
Hot 100 Mainstream Rock Tracks Modern Rock Tracks Adult Contemporary
1989 "I Won't Back Down" 12 1 29  
"Runnin' Down a Dream" 23 1    
"Free Fallin'" 7 1   17
"Feel a Whole Lot Better"   18    
"Love Is a Long Road"   7    
1990 "A Face in the Crowd" 46 5    
"Yer So Bad" 86 5    

Charts and certifications


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music canada) 6× Platinum 600,000^
Sweden (GLF) Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA) 5× Platinum 5,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone



Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever

UK MCA MCG 6034 stereo (1989).

Album produced by Jeff Lynne, Mike Campbell and Top Petty.

The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean and unmarked.

The album cover is in excellent condition, displaying only very minimal signs of wear.

The album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

The original inner sleeve is excellently presented.

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