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Stanley "Stan" Lynch (born May 21, 1955) is an American songwriter and record producer. He was the original drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for 18 years until his departure in 1994.

Early years

Lynch was born in the U.S. city of Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Gainesville, Florida, in the early 1960s. He began playing music as a small child. As a teenager growing up near Gainesville, Lynch determined that he would find a way to make a living with music. “As a kid I had very little opportunity. I was a marginal student. I wasn’t going to college. My parents didn’t have money.”

“I played guitar and piano, and I always thought I was going to be a guitar player,” said Lynch. “The drums were sort of a happy accident. I didn’t really think that they would be my ticket out of the ghetto. Choosing to be a musician back then was not like choosing a job, but an entire lifestyle. My father looked at me as if I were going to wear a dress and dance in the circus.”

Lynch was always getting into fights at school so his folks reasoned that the high-strung youth might be able expel some aggression with drums. His parents made him take lessons before they bought him a kit, and he recalls with a laugh, "as soon as I got my first set they took up tennis—they just split, and I don’t blame them."

The Heartbreakers

He started to work with various Florida bands, among them Styrofoam Soul and Road Turkey, and when he was 15 he met Ron Blair, who was considerably older than Lynch. "I remember he accused me of stealing an amp from him. Hell, I didn’t steal it. I was roadieing for him!" Alas, drums didn’t absorb all of Lynch’s feistiness as his parents had hoped. And he did stay in school long enough to graduate from P.K. Yonge School in 1973. By the time he moved to Los Angeles and hooked up with fellow Floridians to start Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 1976, he’d calmed down a little. "Tom told me, 'Look man, you can call anybody anything you want...but you can’t lay a hand on anyone in this band.' " Still, Lynch remained the self-admitted wild man, the most volatile member, subject to radical mood changes, the most temperamental and the biggest griper. Even though he was in still the band in 1989, Lynch did not perform on any songs on Petty's solo album Full Moon Fever, even though Benmont Tench and Howie Epstein did. When performing songs such as "Free Fallin'" and "I Won't Back Down" on stage between 1989 and 1994, Lynch voiced his opinion strongly, saying he "felt as if [he] was in a cover band." In 1994, shortly after leaving, he was temporarily replaced by Dave Grohl and permantly replaced by Steve Ferrone.

But Lynch was also a booming, physical drummer who threw every ounce of his large frame into his playing. And during the band's crucial up-and-coming years, the Heartbreakers foremost harmony and backing vocalist, helping immensely to shape its Everlys and Byrds-influenced vocal sound both live and in the studio. Plus live, he was the most dynamic Heartbreaker in the band's history, moving and grooving more than any other as he drove the songs home on stage. For his part, Lynch felt that he’d just begun to play well on the band’s fourth and fifth albums, Hard Promises and Long After Dark. "[I’d] gotten looser, more pliable over the years," he commented. "When I listen to our first couple of albums, I think that I sound stiff." As Lynch's ability increased, so did the offers to play with other artists, creating experience that covers a wide variety of musical territory. He’s contributed to albums by The Amazing Delores, Big Sky, The Blasters, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, The Byrds, Belinda Carlisle, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Elliot Easton, Eurythmics, Aretha Franklin, Don Henley, Jackopierce, Freedy Johnston, Wornell Jones, Jim Lauderdale, Lonesome Romeos, Eric Martin, The Mavericks, John Mellencamp, Roger McGuinn, Kevin Montgomery, Scotty Moore, Mr. Reality, Stevie Nicks, William Nowik, The Nudes, Rank & File, Rebel Train, Timothy B. Schmit, Del Shannon, Todd Sharp, Henry Lee Summer, Toto, The Tremblers, and Warren Zevon, among others.

After the Heartbreakers

Eventually the tension Lynch and Petty had always experienced with each other turned irreconcilable, leading to Lynch’s departure. His last gig with the Heartbreakers was on October 2, 1994 at the Bridge School Benefit Concert in Mountain View, California. Upon leaving the band, he moved back to Florida, where he partnered with longtime friend Don Henley to help put together The Eagles' reunion album Hell Freezes Over. He also has toured with The Eagles. Having given away all of his drum sets, Lynch now works as a producer and songwriter in St. Augustine. However, he does teach children the instrument a few times a week at a high school friend's music store in Gainesville.

As a producer, Lynch has worked with a diverse array of talent, such as The Band, The Eagles, Don Henley, Jackopierce, Joe 90, Scotty Moore, and Sister Hazel.

As a songwriter, he also has a penchant for collaborating with a variety of personalities. He’s co-written with or written for numerous acts, including Matraca Berg, Meredith Brooks, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Jeff Healey Band, James House, June Pointer, Eddie Money, Toto, Tora Tora, Sister Hazel and Ringo Starr, and the album What A Cryin’ Shame by the Mavericks.

Tim McGraw recorded "Back When", a song Stan Lynch wrote with Stephony Smith and Jeff Stevens, for his album Live Like You Were Dying. The song went to No. 1 in early December 2004. This was Lynch's first song to reach the top of the charts.

He did reunite with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, playing “American Girl” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. It was a euphoric, if nerve-wracking, experience, as Lynch said his primary mission on stage was simply not dropping his drum sticks.

Tom Petty had the following to say about Lynch, included in his 2005 book, Conversations with Tom Petty: "Stan was a little younger than us. But he was a very good drummer and he was really conscientious, and he worked really hard. And he sang as well. He sang harmony. He was like our main harmony singer in the days before Howie. He was a powerhouse onstage. He reminded me sort of [like] Keith Moon in a way. He was so powerful I used to say he had this fifth gear that he could go into and just really make everything explode. He was really good at that, and he knew the songs really well. He and I had incredibly good communication onstage; he could read the movement of my shoulder. He could go anywhere I wanted to go. He never took his eyes off me. Anything I did was accented on the drums. Any movement I made. We had great eye communication where I could turn around and look at him, and he knew just exactly what I wanted to do."

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