Tom Petty wanted to be in a band since he had first seen The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. He said The Rolling Stones were his punk rock and they made him believe that he could be a success in music. Grown up in Gainesville Florida, Petty was in a couple of bands before he formed Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. They had their first hit in 1976 and kept on making hits through the 1980’s.
Petty also joined the super group The Traveling Wilbury’s which was formed by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne and included Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. He had a duet hit with Stevie Nicks called “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” which he originally wrote for Hard Promises, the follow up album to his platinum LP “Damn The Torpedoes”. Nicks convinced him to let her sing it and he insisted on singing it with her. That song launched Nick’s solo career but dampened the potential of Hard Promises which did well but not as well as Damn The Torpedoes.
Although Petty’s sound was considered Heartland Rock I always felt his sound was rock and roll with a bit of a punky edge to it. This is more obvious in his earlier work, songs like Breakdown and Refugee than it is in his later, more mature efforts like Free Fallin’ but it’s that edginess that I believe keeps his music fresh and current and helps explain why his popularity has transcended generations and is still popular with teens today.
Tom Petty so 80 million records worldwide during his career. He was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He died of a heart attack. He was just 66 years old.
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