July 18th, 2024

Alberta musician honouring Tom Petty at Yates show


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 15, 2024.

Photo by Francesca Ludikar - Albertan Clayton Bellamy will be bringing "The Legendary Life of Tom Petty" to the Yates this weekend.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

For two decades, Albertan Clayton Bellamy has been recording and performing with country group The Road Hammers.

But Bellamy is not only a fan of country, he’s a super fan of the late American heartland rocker Tom Petty.

And on Sunday, the native and resident of Bonnyville will be bringing “The Legendary Life of Tom Petty” to the Yates centre stage starting at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at Ticket Centre locations in the Yates and Enmax Centre or online at http://www.enmaxcentre.ca/events/offsite-event/the-legendary-life-of-tom-petty/2024-03-17

In the show, Bellamy isn’t impersonating Petty, he’s giving a heartfelt look at the music and life of Petty, the beloved singer/songwriter who crafted such memorial radio-friendly tunes as “American Girl,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “I Won’t Back Down” with his band the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist.

In his career, Petty sold more than 80 million albums before dying of an accidental drug overdose on Oct. 16, 2017.

“This is really exciting,” said Bellamy from B.C. earlier this week where the show was being staged.

He started doing the Petty show a bit during the pandemic “but now it’s kind of been full swing. We’ve playing all over North America with it and it’s been really exciting,” said Bellamy.

The genesis for the show came from Rod Shapiro and Graham Neil of GNR Entertainment. They do several different types of shows such as one including the recent homage to Linda Ronstadt by Andrea House which also hit the Yates, and another which has Duane Steele honouring George Jones.

“They approached me about the idea and they knew I’ve been a Tom Petty fan and play a lot of his music in my original shows. So they asked me about it and I just thought it was such a great idea,” said Bellamy.

“The great thing about this show is it’s not a tribute, I’m not pretending to be Tom Petty, I’m not dressing up like him. It’s a legitimate artist doing his renditions of Tom’s songs.”

Picking songs from Petty’s repertoire to fit in a two-hour performance wasn’t easy. Bellamy is constantly rotating tunes “because there’s just so many to choose from.”

And even selecting songs from every part of his catalogue only allows the performers to scratch the surface of Petty’s career, said Bellamy.

“I knew a lot of the history already being that I’m a bit of a super fan when it comes to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I’d read both of his biographies and watched the documentary that was out a few years ago…so I knew the stories but it’s great to be able to kind of put them in my own words. And throughout the show, we’re incorporating videos, and pictures and stories from his career throughout the evening and going along with all of the songs. So it makes it a really interactive evening for the listener.”

The show will feature some of Petty’s deeper tracks, including ‘Honey Bee’ from the Wildflowers album, which Bellamy says is one of his favourites on that 1994 so recording.

“It’s not a single per se but a great tune and a lot of fun to play.”

Bellamy and crew just finished two sold out shows in Halifax and Moncton and was in B.C. doing a four-show run before heading to Lethbridge. More Alberta shows are planned for November and they’ll be announced soon.

Bellamy, who grew up in Bonnyville, spent about a decade working and living in Nashville, before moving back to his hometown.

“I love it, I’ve never felt more at home, I’ve never been busier and an artist. Alberta supports its own and I love it here,” he said.

He has started a non-profit organization called the Clayton Bellamy Foundation for the Arts which provides bursaries to kids to send them to secondary education in the arts. And he’s working to build a new theatre in the Bonnyville area.

“So I’ve been able to take part in that and become a community builder with a lot of like-minded individuals in our area and it’s been really fulfilling to be back home.”

As for The Road Hammers, Bellamy says the band is always a priority.

“After 20 years, those guys are like my brothers” and they’re working on a re-release of their first album as well as new music.

“It’s very exciting stuff. To be able to do anything for 20 years is an accomplishment but especially being in the music business and be able to still be touring around the world and be relevant on the radio and in peoples’ homes on their playlists is really exceptional. I’m very blessed to be able to do that.”

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