Tom Petty Dead at 66
Singer/songwriter Tom Petty passed away Monday at the age of 66.
The popular singer had just wrapped up a 53-date tour with his band The Heartbreakers. Petty’s last St. Louis appearance was in May, when he played Scottrade Center.
Petty’s death was confirmed by Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, on behalf of the family.
Petty’s 40-year career began in 1975 after he cut the demo with the band that would become Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. The lead single on the album, “Breakdown” failed to chart. However, after opening for future E Street Band member Nils Lofgren, they soon became headliners on the tour, with the album topping the U.K. chart.
One of Petty’s biggest album of his career was 1979’s “Damn the Torpedoes,” which reached Number Two on the album chart and was certified triple-platinum. The album contained the singles “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee,” establishing him as a full-fledged hitmaker.
The 80s were eventful, to say the least for Petty. In 1985 he released “Southern Accents.” The album featured the hit, “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” Petty also found himself touring with Bob Dylan during that time. Petty would go on to form The Traveling Wilburys in 1988, releasing Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 with Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne. The album made it to number 3 on the chart and was certified triple platinum.
Petty’s album “Full Moon Fever” launched the singer into full stardom. Songs, “Into the Great Wide Open” and “Learning to Fly” were major hits, but a second Traveling Wilburys album failed in 1990.
Petty also tried his luck at acting, playing roles in 1987s “Made in Heaven” and 1997s “The Postman” along with Kevin Costner. Petty also scored success, playing the voice of Lucky from King of the Hill.
After secretly signing and 6-album, $20-million deal, Petty reluctantly agreed to cut two songs for his greatest hits album. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” was followed with a hit, yet creepy video starring actress Kim Basinger.
Petty’s following album, “Wildflowers,” sold millions, exposing the singer to a new generation of fans.
In 2006, Petty’s solo LP “Highway Companion” was released. In 2008, “Mojo,” a blues record he cut with the Heartbreakers was released. In my opinion, “Mojo” was one of his finest albums, packed with the songs “Saving Grace,” “Square One” and “Jefferson Jericho Blues.”
Just 3 years ago, Petty and the Heartbreakers scored their first number 1 album with “Hypnotic Eye.” The band hit the road in support of the album, celebrating their 40th anniversary. In one of Petty’s last interviews with Rolling Stone, the singer mentioned not wanting to spend his life on the road with the band members being in their 60s. Sadly, the band just wrapped their tour last week.
Petty leaves behind an iconic string of hits and an even longer list of not-so-well known songs that show why he was one of America’s best singer/songwriters. The 18-time Grammy nominee scored 3 wins during his 40-year career.