Monday saw the unfortunate loss of one of the most influential musicians of the 80s and 90s, rock legend Tom Petty, who passed away at 66. His death was later confirmed by Petty’s manager on behalf of the family.
With his distinctive vocals, straightforward rock “n” roll sensibilities and, most of all, his revealing and relatable lyrics, Tom Petty was a music icon that most everyone could adore or at least appreciate.
“It’s shocking, crushing news”, Bob Dylan said in a statement. “I got stoned had a beer the lights went dark”.
Sheryl Crow: “This is unbearable”.
– Slash (@Slash) October 3, 2017So sad about Tom Petty, he made some great music. Or, do what we’re doing and put on the full album of Full Moon Fever in the background of whatever it is you have to do today. We will miss you. All of a sudden, I started thinking Tom Petty was kind of unbelievable. The album Southern Accents included an Alice in Wonderland-inspired song, “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, with Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter chasing Alice through Wonderland, eventually dropping her into a cup of tea and then eating her slice by slice as if she were a sheet cake.
In 2014, Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 13th album, “Hypnotic Eye” was their first to reach No. 1 on the charts. I loved the breezy melancholy of “You and I Will Meet Again” even though I was too young to truly understand it. “Great!’ That was my whole life”.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Petty didn’t talk about who he was or where he came from but rather gave evergreen songs that stood by you all your life.
Music, though, was his comfort.
Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott also took to Twitter, writing that “Through his work with the Heartbreakers and The Traveling Wilburys he’s left us with an incredibly legacy to enjoy forever, it’s such a shame he has left us way before his time“. Naturally, Petty’s anthem gives him the flawless outlet to celebrate his much-needed victory.
Check out the original rendition of Petty’s “Free Fallin” here. Together, they became the Heartbreakers. But only Petty, among most of his constantly touring fellow ’70s pop stars, continued to make vital new records.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame praised the Heartbreakers as being “durable, resourceful, hard-working, likeable and unpretentious”.
But things weren’t always so bright for Petty.
Petty married old friend Jane Benyo in 1974. In a biography, Petty revealed that Benyo was verbally abusive to not only him, but their two daughters. He moved out of the house and turned to heroin to numb his aching heart.
In an excerpt of Petty’s 2015 memoir obtained by Billboard, it was reported that the song was written for Stevie Nicks by Petty, producer Jimmy Iovine and former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart.
In 1985, Petty and the band began to experiment with a more psychedelic sound.
You can view all the images she’s shared on her Instagram here. “It was the music you’d hear at a baseball game”.
And it’s not like his music “saved my life” (as you often read in overly dramatic tributes to dead artists), or even, for that matter, changed my life. “We’d be stupid if we did”, Petty told Rolling Stone in the late ’70s of his style, which – despite his knack for inventive songcraft – would stay largely the same throughout his career.