Griffin Black, a 14-year-old guitar player from Virginia, wrote a narrative piece that appeared in the Washington Post over the weekend about his love for bluesy guitar riffs, meaningful lyrics, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, their lead guitarist Mike Campbell and how he wound up meeting his guitar hero.
As the unbelievable story goes, it all started when Black came across a highlight video of Campbell.
“He walked out onstage with a brilliant red ‘60s Fender Telecaster around his neck,” writes Black in the article. “It was unlike any guitar I had ever seen. It had three pickups, where there should only be two, and a shiny whammy bar.”
Black began searching for more details on the guitar, eventually discovering that it was the “Red Dog” that was used in “Refugee.”
Although he’d never built a guitar before, Black decided he had to have the Red Dog. After three months he had collected all of the parts he needed and three days later, he had himself his dream guitar.
With tickets to the Mojo show in Philadelphia, Black became determined to get Campbell to sign his homemade guitar. Thanks to Black’s persistence and a gracious Heartbreakers management staff, Black was invited backstage to personally meet the Heartbreakers lead guitarist.
“That’s the American spirit,” says Campbell upon seeing the Red Dog replica. “I love that!”
And instead of just signing the guitar, Campbell played it live onstage that night, and got Petty to sign it as well.