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Tench was born in Gainesville (Florida), second son of Benjamin Montmorency Tench, Jr. and Mary Catherine McInnis Tench. His father was born and raised in Gainesville, where he worked as a circuit court judge.
Tench started playing the piano at an early age and offered his first recital at six years old. After discovering the music of The Beatles, he changed classical piano lessons and focused on rock and roll. He met Tom Petty at a music store in Gainesville at the age of eleven. They both started playing together in the Sundowners in 1964. The Tench garage was a frequent site for the group to rehearse at night, when Benmont’s father went to work. For her part, the mother enjoyed having the kids there, although she used to ask neighbors to make sure the music did not bother them.
During his adolescence, he went to Tulane University in New Orleans, and during a vacation, Tench went to a concert by Mudcrutch, Petty’s band. Soon after, he joined the group for different sessions, before returning back to school. However, Petty eventually called Tench and asked him if he would join Mudcrutch full-time, which Benmont agreed to, Mudcrutch eventually evolving into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
In addition to playing the piano and the Hammond organ with The Heartbreakers, Tench is also a session musician who has recorded with dozens of artists, including Johnny Cash, U2, Stevie Nicks, Lucinda Williams, Sam Phillips, You Am I, Susanna Hoffs, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, The Rolling Stones, Don Henley, John Prine, Ringo Starr, John Fogerty, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Waylon Jennings, Paul Westerberg, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Carlene Carter, The dB’s, Alanis Morissette, The Ramones, The Screaming Trees, Warren Zevon, The Tragically Hip, The Divinyls, The Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, The Cult, The Jayhawks, Dave Rawlings, Fiona Apple, Lone Justice, Sean Watkins, New Found Glory, Tift Merritt, Peter Case, Neil Diamond, Ryan Adams and Powderfinger.
In addition to being a musician, Benmont is also a songwriter. Among the songs composed and recorded by other artists include “You Little Thief”, top 5 in the United Kingdom and Australia for Feargal Sharkey in 1985, and “Never Be You”, co-written with Petty, whose version of Rosanne Cash reached number one on the US country charts also in 1985. Tench received two ASCAP awards: one in 1995 for “Stay Forever”, played by Hal Ketchum, and another in 2001 for “Unbreakable Heart” by Jessica Andrews.
In 2008, Tench was part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) supergroup, consisting of Tench, Sean Watkins (guitar), Sara Watkins (violin), Glen Phillips (guitar and choirs), Luke Bulla (violin), Greg Leisz , Pete Thomas (drums) and Davey Faragher (bass). The group released a self-titled album in September 2009. Tench composed one of the songs on the album, “The Price,” sung by Sara Watkins.
In 2014, Tench published You Should Be So Lucky, his first solo album.
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