Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Mark Spowart / Alamy)


Listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover The Rolling Stones song 'Satisfaction'


‘Satisfaction’ was the song that changed everything for The Rolling Stones. After a number of blues covers and some relatively middling tours around the UK and US, the Stones still hadn’t established themselves as anything other than a minor Beatles rival. This was before the direct counter-programming that the band provided to the clean-cut mop-top image of the Fab Four and before the Stones fine-tuned their signature sound.

But with one riff, the Stones were able to blast off into the stratosphere. With a fuzz box that made the three-note riff pop out of the speakers, Keith Richards gave the Stones their edge. Paired with Mick Jagger’s reflections on consumerism and frustration, ‘Satisfaction’ connected with a burgeoning youth movement who were eager to kick back at the rigid sensibilities of their elders. Everybody loved The Beatles, but now if you were at all rebellious, The Rolling Stones were the band for you.

That message found its way all across America, even down to the swamps of northern Florida. In Gainesville, an impressionable young Beatles lover was frustrated by the polished perfection that he, as a scrappy adolescent, couldn’t quite master. This blonde-haired rocker loved the melodies and jangle of George Harrison’s Rickenbacker, but he also needed something harder and heavier than he could replicate. Tom Petty needed The Rolling Stones.

“They were my punk music,” Petty recalled to CBC in 2014. “They were grittier [than The Beatles]; it was rawer. They were playing blues in this really energetic kind of raw way, but it wasn’t complicated. There wasn’t a lot of beautiful harmony involved.”

And so, with the heaviness of The Rolling Stones fueling his southern-fried rock and roll, Petty set about learning the guitar and eventually assembling musicians into a local band called Mudcrutch. Petty was originally just the bass player in the band, but he eventually took over, brought in his pals Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, and evolved the group into what would eventually become Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The Heartbreakers wore their influences on their sleeves, and whether it was old-school Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac doing ‘Oh Well’ or the garage rock pull of Van Morrison and Them playing ‘Mystic Eyes’, Petty was always game to break out a few covers during Heartbreakers sets. When the band were playing a multi-night stand at The Fillmore in San Francisco during February of 1997, the Heartbreakers busted out a few special cover tunes, including Bo Diddley’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’, The Zombies’ ‘I Want You Back Again’, and the Grateful Dead’s ‘Friend of the Devil’.

The Heartbreakers also played ‘Satisfaction’, mustering up that same raw energy that inspired Petty to pick up the guitar in the first place more than 30 years before. Listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playing ‘Satisfaction’ live down below.