We’re remembering the date on which the name of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers featured on the UK singles chart for the first time. As had just happened on the album side, it was well before they achieved the same feat in America.
It was on 25 June 1977 that ‘Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ a 45rpm release from their self-titled debut album, crept onto the British bestsellers at No. 50. The album itself was released on Shelter Records via Island and produced by its leading light Denny Cordell. It had made the UK bestsellers three weeks earlier, at No. 25. The LP peaked one place higher a week later, but enjoyed a nine-week initial chart run, and 13 weeks in total.
The transatlantic buzz about the Los Angeles band’s edgy, new wave-era rock had been amplified by their exhaustive touring. Notably, by a support slot in April 1977 on Nils Lofgren’s UK schedule. They spread the word with further dates in Europe, and of course in the US, on a total of some 200 shows that took place during that intensely busy year.
‘Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll’ climbed to No. 36 in its second week on the UK chart, but by August Petty and co were back in the top 40 with ‘American Girl.’ That gave them two British chart singles before they ever appeared on the Billboard Hot 100, on which their debut didn’t come until November, with the No. 40 hit ‘Breakdown,’ also from the first album.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers made its first American showing in September, and although it only reached No. 55 in their home country, it spent 42 weeks on the chart. It was eventually certified gold in 1988, by which time the band were rock royalty. But that early helping hand in the UK in 1977 was a key part of their breakthrough.
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