Mike Campbell Plays 14 Year Old Fan’s Home Made Guitar On Stage

Mike Campbell Plays 14 Year Old Fan’s Home Made Guitar On Stage August 23, 2010

This is a terrific story about the guitarist from my favorite band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and a remarkable young fan:

One night in front of the computer, Griffin was watching footage of a 1985 concert.

“And Mike Campbell, the lead guitar player from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, came out playing this really cool-looking guitar,” he says.

What he saw was a highly modified — and very red — Fender Telecaster that the band called “The Red Dog.” It’s the same guitar Campbell had used for the recording of its hit song “Refugee.” The Red Dog is a one-of-a-kind custom build.

“I knew right away I wasn’t going to be able to find it at a Guitar Center somewhere,” Black says, “so I figured I’d have to build it myself.”

So the Vienna, Va., teen re-created The Red Dog using parts from Ebay and rare instrument dealers.

He then managed to get word to Mike Campbell about what he had done and Mike asked to meet him backstage before their Philadelphia show this summer.

Campbell chatted with Black for a bit and then asked to see the guitar. Campbell remarked that it looked and felt similar to the original Red Dog, played a few riffs and then asked to play it.

“At first I was a little confused because he was already playing it,” Black says. “But then he said, ‘No, I want to play it onstage for ‘You Don’t Know How it Feels,’ and I just said ‘absolutely.’ ”

So for the second song that July night, Campbell grabbed the guitar and did something Black won’t soon forget.

“As I was playing it, looked out in the audience and I saw him,” Campbell says of Black, who was in the third row. “His face was lit up like a Christmas tree, so I was glad that I did it.”

Thanks to Josh for passing this on to me.

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