Tom Leadon, Co-Founder of Mudcrutch With Tom Petty, Dead at 70
The news was confirmed by his brother Mark, who said in a statement, “It is with great sadness, but profound love and gratitude for his life, that the family of Tom Leadon Nashville, Tennessee and Gainesville, Florida, announce his passing on March 22, 2023 peacefully of natural causes."
Mudcrutch was the pre-fame band of future Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers members Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. They formed in 1970, building a following in Florida. Leadon exited the group in 1972, heading west to California following his brother Bernie who would find fame as a member of the Eagles. Tench would replace Leadon in Mudcrutch, and the band then decided to follow Tom's lead by moving to California to seek their fame. The band would release one single before splitting up, but Petty, Campbell and Tench then formed what would become Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
While Leadon and Petty's path veered different directions for quite a number of years, Petty never lost the love for his early band and reached out to reform most of the Mudcrutch lineup in 2007 along with Leadon for a new album and tour.
Mudcrutch and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell shared a heartfelt post on social media acknowledging Leadon's death. It read, "Tom Leadon was my deepest guitar soul brother, we spent countless hours playing acoustic guitars and teaching each other things. A kinder soul never walked the earth. I will always miss his spirit and generosity. Sleep peacefully my old friend - Mike."
Tom Leadon was part of a musical family that also included Bernie Leadon, who went on to fame as a member of the Eagles. He met Petty in Gainesville, Florida while both were members of bands in school. That was where they formed Mudcrutch and first started to play together along with Campbell, singer Jim Lenahan and drummer Randall Marsh.
As stated, Leadon eventually left Mudcrutch in 1972, following his brother Bernie to Los Angeles and eventually landing a gig playing bass for Linda Ronstadt. Leadon also went on to co-write the song "Hollywood Waltz" with his brother and fellow Eagles members Don Henley and Glenn Frey that ended up on the Eagles' One of These Nights album. The musician also spent time touring with Johnny Rivers before joining the country-rock act Silver in 1976.
Eventually, Leadon left California in favor of Nashville where he took a job as a guitar teacher for a number of years. Then, in 2007, Petty contacted Leadon about the idea of reforming Mudcrutch, with the band eventually releasing a new album in 2008. Among the songs on the record was "Queen of the Go-Go Girls" that Leadon co-wrote and sung. A second full-length album, Mudcrutch 2, then followed in 2016, featuring the Leadon-led "The Other Side of the Mountain."
Revisit some of Leadon's work below.