Subject: ARCHIVE: October 2, 2017 ~Incredibly it's been ONE year already that we lost Rock's TOM PETTY to an opioid OD, at age 66. He recorded a number of hit singles with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist, selling more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. ...
[ Thomas Earl Petty ]
(October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017)
American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He was the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, formed in 1976. He previously led the band Mudcrutch. He was also a co-founder of the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.
Petty recorded a number of hit singles with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist. In his career, he sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Petty died on October 2, 2017, one week after the completion of the Heartbreakers' 40th anniversary tour.
Early life …
Petty was born October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida, the first of two sons of Kitty (Katherine Petty), a local tax office worker, and Earl Petty, who worked in a grocery store. He had a brother, Bruce, who was seven years younger. His interest in rock and roll music began at age ten when he met Elvis Presley. In the summer of 1961, his uncle was working on the set of Presley's film Follow That Dream, in nearby Ocala, and invited Petty to watch the shoot. He instantly became a Presley fan, and when he returned that Saturday, he was greeted by his friend Keith Harben, and soon traded his Wham-O slingshot for a collection of Elvis 45s. Of that meeting with Presley, Petty said, "Elvis glowed." In a 2006 interview, Petty said he knew he wanted to be in a band the moment he saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. "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." He dropped out of high school at age 17 to play bass with his newly formed band.
In an interview with the CBC in 2014, Petty stated that the Rolling Stones were "my punk music". He credited the group with inspiring him by demonstrating that he and musicians like him could make it in rock and roll.
One of his first guitar teachers was Don Felder, a fellow Gainesville resident, who later joined the Eagles. As a young man, Petty worked briefly on the grounds crew of the University of Florida, but never attended as a student. An Ogeechee lime tree that he allegedly planted while employed at the university is now called the Tom Petty tree (Petty stated that he did not recall planting any trees). He also worked briefly as a gravedigger.
Petty also overcame a difficult relationship with his father, who found it hard to accept that his son was "a mild-mannered kid who was interested in the arts" and subjected him to verbal and physical abuse on a regular basis. Petty was close to his mother and remained close to his brother, Bruce.
1976–1987: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers …
Main article: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Shortly after embracing his musical aspirations, Petty started a band known as the Epics, later to evolve into Mudcrutch. The band included future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench and was popular in Gainesville, but their recordings went unnoticed by a mainstream audience. Their only single, "Depot Street", released in 1975 by Shelter Records, failed to chart.
After Mudcrutch split up, Petty reluctantly agreed to pursue a solo career. Tench decided to form his own group, whose sound Petty appreciated. Eventually, Petty and Campbell collaborated with Tench, Ron Blair and Stan Lynch, forming the first lineup of the Heartbreakers. Their eponymous debut album gained minute popularity amongst American audiences, achieving greater success in Britain. The single "Breakdown" was re-released in 1977, and peaked at No. 40 in early 1978 after the band toured in the United Kingdom in support of Nils Lofgren. The debut album was released by Shelter Records, which at that time was distributed by ABC Records.
Their second album, You're Gonna Get It!, was the band's first Top 40 album, featuring the singles "I Need to Know" and "Listen to Her Heart". Their third album, Damn the Torpedoes, quickly went platinum, selling nearly two million copies; it includes their breakthrough singles "Don't Do Me Like That", "Here Comes My Girl" and "Refugee".
In September 1979, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed at a Musicians United for Safe Energy concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. Their rendition of "Cry to Me" was featured on the resulting album, No Nukes.
The 4th album Hard Promises, released in 1981, became a top-ten hit, going platinum and spawning the hit single "The Waiting". The album also featured Petty's first duet, "Insider" with Stevie Nicks.
Bass player Ron Blair quit the group and was replaced on the fifth album, Long After Dark (1982), by Howie Epstein; the resulting lineup lasted until 1994. In 1985, the band participated in Live Aid, playing four songs at John F. Kennedy Stadium, in Philadelphia. Southern Accents was also released in 1985. This album included the hit single "Don't Come Around Here No More", which was produced by Dave Stewart. The song's video featured Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter, mocking and chasing Alice from the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, then cutting and eating her as if she were a cake. The ensuing tour led to the live album Pack Up the Plantation: Live! and an invitation from Bob Dylan—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers joined him on his True Confessions Tour. They also played some dates with the Grateful Dead in 1986 and 1987. Also in 1987, the group released Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) which includes "Jammin' Me" which Petty wrote with Dylan.