Johnny Clifford (The BrokenHearted) Interview and Photography By: Stephanie J Bartik

Written by on December 27, 2021

It has been a while since we spoke with Johnny Clifford, today, we change that.  We catch up and speak to Johnny about some exciting news about his well-known
Tom Petty Tribute, The BrokenHearted-Tom Petty Tribute. Read on to find out what he is up to.

When we last spoke, we learned a bit about how you came to be “The Tom Petty Guy”: Your father’s musical influence as a young boy, your self-described Tom Petty superfan status, and how The BrokenHearted-Tom Petty Tribute formed with some of the musicians from former bands you were in. 

In 2019, The BrokenHearted seemed to be going strong.  You were all over the place, and got to play Rockin on The River, a pinnacle stage, and goal gig of so many local bands. The rest, they say, is history. But you seem to have changed history.  The band has changed to a combination of Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks Tribute, with Collette Pastore covering the Stevie Nicks vocals and Sandy Curtis-Long on backup vocals joining the band.

How long has this new aspect been in the works?
Did you approach Collette, did she approach you?
I ask this, because as many know, Stevie Nicks was a huge fan of Tom Petty, and was relentless to perform with him.  He described her as ”Coming into my life like a rocket and refusing to go away”. Stevie’s relentlessness led to a 40-year friendship.

So, what was the trigger?

JC: Not all that long really.  It kind of presented itself and I went for it.  I didn’t need to think about it very long.  Collette is an experienced, established professional and she has appeared at several of our shows over the past few years covering “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”.  A song Petty wrote which ended up on Nick’s Bella Dona album.

 We had started working with music promoters Entertainment One Presents and looking at new markets and venues to play.  It was really an idea to make the ceiling higher for us.  I felt we could do well as a dedicated Petty tribute, but I started thinking there might be more audience interest in a Petty/Nicks tribute.  Plus, we happened to have a Stevie Nicks singer already associated with us.  I thought it was an easy decision. 

I had a strategy meeting with John Myers, our agent from Entertainment One Presents.  We were going over things to do with the band going forward.  We discussed the possibility of combining our Petty tribute with Collette singing the Stevie material.  For the past couple of years Collette and I had been discussing doing a two-band show with us doing Petty and a band Collette had been working on covering Stevie Nicks.  Covid really slowed that down.  We ended up joining forces.

RRX: Will there ever be the old The BrokenHearted; a tribute to Tom Petty? Or will it be The BrokenHearted-A tribute to Petty/Nicks as a permanent change?

JC: This change is permanent. We will not be doing Petty-only shows for the foreseeable future.

RRX: Where do you see this new venture going?
Is the plan to be as active as you were in 2019?

JC: We plan on seeing just how far we can go with this.  Collette is a real pro and works very well with us.  The addition of Collette and Sandy was seamless.  We hope to be very active in 2022.

RRX: Tell me a bit about the format. Is it a 50/50 mix with both of you? Or do you have different sets, showcasing each other’s talents?

JC: It’s close to 50/50.  I don’t want to give away the show but it’s both. There will be lots of Petty and lots of Stevie.  There will be hit songs all night and done in a concert format that I think will appeal to a lot of rock & roll fans. 

RRX: With the addition of new members, do you see the possibility for longer shows in the future? (Giving each a bit of a rest?)

JC: No rest, lol.  In fact, we’re working on ways to incorporate everyone onstage as much as possible. We could do a longer show if needed.  Our last show was almost 3 hours long. I’m always looking for ways to add interesting aspects to the show.  

RRX: I see you have a show coming up at Cohoes Music Hall on January 14th. What a great venue! Seems they are showcasing more local music now than they had in the past.

JC: Cohoes Music Hall is a wonderful old-school vaudeville-style theater. I’ve seen two Entertainment One Presents tribute shows there recently and both were great. The crowds were rockin’ and rollin’ at both.  I’m very happy to see the local aspect of the shows at Cohoes Music Hall.  We have a lot of great bands around here.  I can’t wait for this next show!


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 and  Entertainment One Presents for future BrokenHearted-Petty/Nicks tribute shows and other great shows from E1 Presents.

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