Tom Leadon, Founder With Tom Petty of Mudcrutch, Dies

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The reunited Mudcrutch in 2016 (L-R): Randall Marsh, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Tom Petty, and Tom Leadon

Tom Leadon, a founder member with Tom Petty of Mudcrutch, and the brother of original Eagles member Bernie Leadon, has died. The news of his passing on March 22, 2023, at age 70 of natural causes, was announced by another brother, Mark Leadon, today (March 27). Mudcrutch, formed in Gainesville, Fla., in 1970, also included Mike Campbell and, later, Benmont Tench, among others, and was a precursor to the Heartbreakers.

Tom Leadon was part of the Mudcrutch lineup that reunited in 2016 for an album and acclaimed club tour. “A kinder soul never walked the earth,” wrote Campbell in a tribute.

From Mark Leadon’s announcement of his brother’s death: It is with great sadness, but profound love and gratitude for his life, that the family of Tom Leadon (Thomas Joseph Leadon) of Nashville, Tennessee, and Gainesville, Florida, announce his passing on March 22, 2023 peacefully of natural causes. He was 70.

Mudcrutch at NYC’s Webster Hall, June 10, 2016 (Photo © Greg Brodsky)

Tom was the fourth of 10 children, and was a musician, songwriter, singer and performer, beginning in Gainesville in the late 1960s. His first performing band featured a young Tom Petty, who grew up several blocks away from the Leadon family. That first band evolved into Mudcrutch, which played University of Florida fraternity parties, and at Daytona Beach and other venues in North Florida. Tom Leadon left that band a year before they signed with Leon Russell’s Shelter Records, when they changed their name to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

In his early career, Tom Leadon performed publicly with many musicians, including Johnny Rivers, Eagles, the Beach Boys, Martha Reeves, Linda Ronstadt, James Jamerson and Big Mama Thornton. He was a member of the band Silver that released an album 1976. Petty reformed Mudcrutch in 2008, and again in 2016, releasing two major-label albums with Tom Leadon, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and Randall Marsh, each album release followed by a short tour. Recently, Tom Leadon continued to write new songs and to perform with his band, The Bayjacks.

Watch guest Roger McGuinn join Mudcrutch for “Lover of the Bayou” in New York

Related: Our review of a Mudcrutch concert in 2016

Tom Leadon came from a musical family—his father sang in church choir, and his mother played the organ and piano. His older brother Bernie Leadon was a founding member of the Eagles, and all of his other siblings play and sing folk, bluegrass, country-rock and other musical styles.

Tom taught guitar while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. He was a beloved teacher of guitar for many years in Brentwood, Tennessee, and had many loyal friends wherever he lived. His last residence was in Thompson Station, near Nashville.

Tom had a friendly and outgoing personality and sharp wit. He was a great and very funny story teller. Tom loved his family and close friends, and all of the Mudcrutch, Tom Petty and Bayjacks fans. He enjoyed meeting and talking with all of you. Thank you for helping make his last years great ones. He was greatly loved and will be greatly missed.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2023

Petty’s wife, Dana Petty, wrote, “I am deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Mudcrutch guitarist Tom Leadon’s passing. 💔 He spent so much time at our home over the years he became family. He was brilliant and had a memory like no other. He was a fantastic musician as well. I am sending much love to his family. Rest easy, Tommy. Hug my Tommy for me.”

Leadon’s final post on social media was in Nov. 2022, when he shared a video of his performance at a Tom Petty weekend festival in Gainesville in October.

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