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The Story of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Fifth Album, ‘Long After Dark’

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By 1982, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had already racked up an impressive string of hits that included such future classics as “American Girl,” “Refugee” and “The Waiting” — but as they proved on their fifth album, Long After Dark, they were just getting started.

Released a scant 18 months after the band’s previous album, Hard Promises, Long After Dark found Petty and the Heartbreakers cementing their radio-friendly blend of Southern rock riffs and Anglo-pop hooks while welcoming new bassist Howie Epstein, thus solidifying the lineup that would help propel them to the top of the charts for the rest of the decade.

But as far as the kids of 1982 were concerned, Long After Dark was arguably most noteworthy for spinning off one of the most memorable videos of the year: The Mad Max-inspired clip for the lead-off single “You Got Lucky,” which featured post-apocalyptic versions of the lineup riding hovercars and rocking out in a desert wasteland. One of a handful of short film-type videos released during MTV’s early years, “You Got Lucky” proved Petty and the Heartbreakers could take advantage of an emerging medium while paving the way for more imaginative clips (like the band’s treatment for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” in 1985).

No matter what, though, the music was what people really responded to — and the fans certainly turned out for Long After Dark, sending the record into the Billboard Top 10 and extending the band’s hot streak on the radio, where it spun off a pair of Top 40 pop singles (“You Got Lucky” and “Change of Heart”) and a number of rock hits (including “Between Two Worlds,” “One Story Town” and “We Stand a Chance”). It’s a good thing it was such a fan favorite, too, because the fans would have to wait awhile before they got another studio release from Petty and the Heartbreakers: Their sixth LP, Southern Accents, wouldn’t arrive until 1985.

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