A Tribute to Tom Petty

Tom Petty, dynamic frontman of eponymously titled Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, has passed away from cardiac arrest. At the age of just 66 and fresh from an acclaimed performance at the Hollywood Bowl, his sudden loss comes as a shocking blow to the music world.

News of Petty’s passing and several touching obituaries surfaced in the media throughout Monday afternoon but according to Petty’s manager and dear friend Tony Dimitriades, the rocker “died peacefully at 8.40pm, surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.” Tributes are flooding in for the much-loved musician. Bruce Springsteen, who believes that he found a kindred spirit in Petty, shared a touching tribute to his “long lost brother.” Both fans and celebrity admirers have been recalling the profound effect Tom Petty’s music, friendship and attitude has had on their lives.

Excelling as a musician, lyricist and performer, Tom Petty has gifted us with an extensive catalogue of rock staples, including hits ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ ‘American Girl’ and ‘Free Fallin.’ It was only this summer that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers returned to the UK for their long-overdue headline show as part of the British Summer Time Series at Hyde Park. “Tom Petty is my favourite rock star,” Stevie Nicks declared affectionately when she joined the band onstage for a special rendition of their hit ‘Stop Draggin’ my Heart Around.’ Judging from the public outcry at the musician’s passing, Tom Petty seems to be the favourite rock star for many. Humble and unassuming, his music and touching lyrics spoke volumes. The Hyde Park show was part of an anniversary tour celebrating The Heartbreakers’ 40-year career. However, the show has even more significance in retrospect, as Tom Petty’s swan song to the UK.

Alongside his accomplishments with The Heartbreakers, who have produced 13 records since their formation in 1976, Petty also enjoyed success as a solo artist and cofounded super group The Travelling Wilbury’s with fellow rockers Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. With influences from blues, country, pop and psychedelia weaved into classic, no-frills Southern rock, Tom Petty’s timeless songs have enduring popularity. In an interview, Petty expressed his satisfaction at his musical legacy.
“The man who approaches me on the street is more or less thanking me for a body of work — the soundtrack to his life, as a lot of them say. And that’s a wonderful feeling.”

Tom Petty will continue to inspire generations of musicians with his distinctive style and determined attitude.


Lucy Milburn