A Tribute To Tom Petty

Early Life of Tom Petty

Tom Petty, iconic and legendary rock and roll singer, unfortunately passed away on October 2nd, 2017 at age 66. We celebrate his life and lasting impact he has had on the music industry. This post is a tribute to Tom Petty, hall of fame Rock and Roll artist and leader of The Heartbreakers.

Tom Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Flordia to Kitty and Earl Petty. During the summer of 1961, Petty’s uncle was working on Elvis Presley’s film set nearby Ocala. His uncle invited Tom onset, and Petty quickly fell in love with music and rock and roll at age ten. It was not until Petty saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, where he realized that he wanted to start his own band. Petty stated,

“The minute I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show — and it’s true of thousands of guys — there was the way out. There was the way to do it. You get your friends and you’re a self-contained unit. And you make the music. And it looked like so much fun. It was something I identified with. I had never been hugely into sports. … I had been a big fan of Elvis. But I really saw in the Beatles that here’s something I could do. I knew I could do it. It wasn’t long before there were groups springing up in garages all over the place.” [1]

Tom’s love for music and the arts clashed with that of his father. Tom’s relationship with his father can be described as difficult, in which he was subjected to verbal and physical abuse during his adolescence. Tom was extremely close to his mother and maintained a close relationship to his brother Bruce. His relationship with his father did not stop his love for music. At a young age, Tom had the fortunate opportunity to meet Don Felder, one of his first guitar teachers. Felder was a Gainesville resident, who eventually would join the band, The Eagles. Shortly after following his aspirations, Tom started his first band known as the Epics. The Epics later transformed into Mudcrutch, where he and other talented musicians gained a lot of local popularity.

After Mudcrutch split up, Petty went to pursue a solo career and continued his passion for music. Shortly after his first solo career, Tom would rejoin his old band members of Mudcrutch, along with a few other talented musicians, which soon became the popular rock and roll group, The Heartbreakers.

The Heartbreakers had trouble gaining popularity with American audiences during their early career, but had more success in the UK. The Heartbreakers second and third album saw much greater success, where they achieved top-ten hits and platinum records.

Joining The Traveling Wilburys and Growing His Solo Career

In 1988, Tom Petty joined the group The Traveling Wilburys, which included artists such as Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. They produced popular albums such as Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 and Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.

In 1989, Petty released his first solo album, Full Moon Fever. This album included featured hits such as “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin”, and “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” This album was nominally his first solo album, but Tom featured many of his prior band members in his tracks. It was not until 1991, where Petty and The Heartbreakers would officially reform the group.

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Reforming the Heartbreakers

After the Heartbreakers officially reformed, they signed a lucrative deal with Warner Brother’s Records. In 1994, the first album with the new label, Wildflowers, sold over 3 million copies in the United States.

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Sources: Crandall, Bill (February 6, 2014). “10 musicians who saw the Beatles standing there”. CBS News. 1