Legendary rock musician, Tom Petty died at the age of 66 after suffering from a cardiac arrest early on Monday morning. Known for classic rock hits such as ‘American Girl,’ ‘Don’t Do Me Like That,’ ‘Free Fallin’,’ ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance,’ and ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ Tom wasn’t just the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers but also an impeccable solo artiste. Here’s a look-down at the 40-year journey, Tom has had in the industry.
In 2002, Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His music has been classified as rock and roll, heartland rock, and stoner rock. While his career panned for more than forty years, he started singing as a teenager. His full name is Thomas Earl Petty and he was born in 1950 in Gainesville, Florida,
Petty came to be recognized as a rock legend gradually and he says that what drew him to this genre was a childhood meeting with ‘King of Rock and Roll’ Elvis Presley, and the appearance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. In an interview to the Grammy, talking about the ground-breaking appearance of the Beatles, Tom said, “I was 13, and already somewhat of a music fan. This was the great moment in my life, really, that changed everything. I had been a fan up to that point. But this was the thing that made me want to play music. You saw that it could be done. There could be a self-contained unit that wrote, recorded and sang songs. And it looked like they were having an awful lot of fun doing it.”
At the young of age of 17, Petty was a high school drop-out who founded a short-lived country-rock band called Mudcrutch. Later in 1976, Petty along with two other members of Mudcrutch formed Heartbreakers along with two other fellow Gainesville natives. In an interview to Telegraph, Petty recalled the band’s first gig in the UK in 1976. He said, “The audience just jumped up and charged the stage and were boogieing their brains out. It was such a rush. Wow, we had never seen anything like that, man.” The band’s first Top 40 album was their second one, “You’re Gonna Get It!”, and it featured the singles “I Need to Know” and “Listen To Her Heart.” It was also the band’s first gold album. And their third album “Damn the Torpedoes,” quickly went platinum and sold almost two million copies. It consists of their popular breakthrough singles “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Here Comes My Girl” and “Refugee”. In 1981, their album, “Hard Promises” became a top-ten hit and went platinum which included the hit single “The Waiting.” The group broke up after that.
In 1989, Petty released ‘Full Moon Fever,’ featuring hits such as “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. Touted as Petty’s first solo album, ‘Full Moon Fever’ saw a lot of collaborations from several Heartbreakers. Later, Petty also worked with Warner Bros and even released a soundtrack to the movie She’s the One, starring Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz.
Most recently, in 2014, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their thirteenth album, ‘Hypnotic Eye.’ While the album was released at number one on the Billboard 200, it became the first Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album to ever top the chart.