On October 2nd, 2017, the world lost one of the coolest rock and rollers to ever grace this mortal plane. Tom Petty passed away at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California last Monday night at the age of sixty-six.
He was born Thomas Earl Petty on October 20th, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida to Earl and Kitty Petty, the first of two boys. The physical and verbal abuse he faced as a child led Petty to develop a fascination with music, especially rock and roll. This would eventually force him to quit school and pursue his dream of becoming a rock star at the age of seventeen.
After having an unsuccessful run with the rock band Mudcrutch, Petty formed a new grew alongside several of his old band members under the name Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The band would face little success in their early years but finally hit the mainstream after a triumphant tour of Great Britain and the release of the song, “Breakdown”.
Reaching more recognition with American audiences after the release of his next two albums, You’re Gonna Get It! (1978), and Damn the Torpedoes (1979). His subsequent collaborations with Stevie Nicks on her solo album, Bella Donna (1981) was a major boost to his career, alongside touring with Bob Dylan, and creating the Traveling Wilburys with rock legends Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne. The Traveling Wilburys would eventually turn out to be a Grammy-winning group.
His reputation as one of the greatest rockstars ever was cemented with his 2002 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside other inductees, The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, and Brenda Lee.
He was always full of surprises, he would cameo in films like FM and Made in Heaven, and even took actually film roles like the Mayor in Kevin Costner’s 1997 film, The Postman. His recurring role on King of the Hill as Luanne’s husband, Lucky, was always a pleasant surprise to see. He advocated for the legalization of marijuana, even writing the song, “Don’t Pull Me Over”, as a protest for the legalization.
We thank him for all of the classics he has given us, “American Girl”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, just to name a few. He will be deeply missed.