Watch Mike Campbell pick up his Gibson Firebird with Larkin Poe to perform Tom Petty classic Runnin’ Down a Dream

Larkin Poe were joined by two very special guests onstage on Saturday February 11 during their set at the Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, when former Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Steve Ferrone jammed Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream with the Nashville-based roots band.

The track was co-written by Campbell with Jeff Lynne and Petty, and featured on Petty’s 1989 debut solo album, Full Moon Fever. The perfect vehicle for Rebecca Lovell on her Fender Stratocaster, Campbell on his Gibson Firebird, with Megan Lovell on lap steel, it has lost little of its hard-riffing power over the years. And Ferrone can sure hit ‘em.

The Lovell Sisters have cut plenty of covers over the years, particularly on YouTube where they have their own channel dedicated to performances of classic Scorpions, Chris Isaak and Rolling Stones tracks. They have covered Petty before, taking on the 1978 Heartbreakers’ cut Listen to Her Heart, and Wildflowers, from Petty's album of the same name, but never Runnin’ Down a Dream.

Larkin Poe are presently touring the US on the Blood Harmony tour. They typically work a couple of covers into the set, with Link Wray’s Rumble and Son House’s Preachin’ Blues a regular feature of their shows. At the Fonda, it looked like a case of the stars aligning with Campbell and Ferrone in town.

On Instagram, the Poe said the performance was a “lifetime memory made”.

“We’re honored to not only call these fine gentlemen our friends, but also to have had them grace the stage with us last night,” they wrote. “Mike Campbell, Steve Ferrone, we love y’all so much and can’t thank you enough for melting our faces off with your rock.” 

Campbell and Rebecca Lovell took the verses, with Megan – Bakelite Rickenbacker lap steel in hand – joining both for the chorus. That Firebird Campbell is playing there is one of his ‘desert island guitars’ and is presently his number one with the Dirty Knobs. Speaking to Guitar Center for a YouTube segment in 2021, Campbell explained how it came into his possession, and how, “supposedly”, it has Johnny Winters’ signature on it.

“This guitar I bought in Philadelphia,” he said. “I was on tour with Fleetwood Mac on a day off and my wife and I went walking and we passed a pawnshop. And I have Firebirds but I don’t have a white one. I put it in the show that night and it was my main guitar the rest of the tour. It just sounded perfect. And it’s also become my main guitar in the Dirty Knobs.”

Larkin Poe’s tour continues tomorrow night when they hit The Commonwealth Room in Salt Lake City, Utah. See Larkin Poe for the dates.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.