Born on this day in 1953, Benjamin Montmorency "Benmont" Tench III, the American musician and singer, best known as keyboardist and a founding member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, turns 69. Tench was only 11 when he first met Tom Petty at a Gainesville, Florida music store. Petty and Tench played together as members of The Sundowners in 1964. While on a college break, Tench went to a concert by Mudcrutch, Petty's band, with an opening act from nearby Jacksonville, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Afterward, 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, Tench agreed to; but before he would leave school, Petty had to convince Tench's father that his son had a promising music career. Mudcrutch eventually evolved into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. 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.
In his honor, check out "Benmont's Boogie" (below) as well as a recent interview with Benmont, above.