BY: Ethan Herzinger
On Oct. 2, 2017 , the world was in turmoil. Within hours of not even coping with the devastating Las Vegas shooting, the world once again mourned. On this day, the music community was shocked and devastated to hear of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and musical legend Tom Petty died of cardiac arrest at the age of 66.
Thomas Earl Petty was born on Oct. 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. Born to Avery and Earl Petty, his mother and father . He also leaves behind a younger brother named Bruce Petty. Petty was very close to his mother due to his rocky relationship with his father. Earl never approved of his son’s interest in the arts. Growing up, Petty relied on Bruce and his mother to get him through his rough childhood. His love and admiration for rock ‘n’ roll came to be when he was 10 years old and his uncle was working on one of Elvis movie sets. He was able to meet the King in 1961 backstage. His desire to pick up a guitar however, came on that magical day, Feb. 9, 1964, when “The Beatles” played the Ed Sullivan Show .
With no college education in mind, Petty was able to start taking music seriously after graduating from Gainesville High School. While recruiting members, he fumbled upon two talented musicians that would be part of him for the rest of his life. Those two men were Mike Campbell who played guitar and was then planning to attend the University of Miami and keyboardist Benmont Tench who was already in college at the time. Because of Petty’s passion for success, he convinced the two of them to quit school .
The three of them then formed the short lived “Mudcrutch” which had Petty on bass and vocals, and Campbell and Tench on their respected instruments. Despite “Mudcrutch” being short-lived, it was the year 1976 that became the year that changed Petty’s life forever. The formation of the forever immortal “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers.” With Petty just doing vocals, Campbell on guitar, Tench on keyboards, Ron Blair on bass (later replaced by Howie Epstein) and Stan Lynch on drums, this band was a force to be reckoned with. With influences drawing from “The Byrds,” “The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones,” their musical language was unparalleled to any other band in the late 70’s. Since their self titled debut, the band was known for making hit after hit including “American Girl,” “Breakdown,” “Listen to her Heart,” “Even the losers,” and “The Waiting.”
In 1989, Petty had success with his first solo debut LP. “Full Moon Fever,” which spawned the confidence booster “I Won’t Back Down” and the forever immortal arena rocker “Free Fallin’”. He again had solo success with “Wildflowers,” his second solo album with Rick Rubin, who was known as the go to producer for many 90’s rock bands.
Many celebrities took to Twitter expressing their love for the musician including Brian Wilson of “The Beach Boys,” To Paul McCartney, formerly of “The Beatles”.
Gone but never forgotten , Tom will live on forever as one the greatest songwriters of this past generation, just like his heroes John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Thank you Tom.