Tom Petty, the singer, guitarist and highly accomplished songwriter, died in a Los Angeles hospital on 2nd October aged just 66. His death followed a heart attack earlier that day at his home in Malibu, Southern California. According to his long-term manager, Tony Dimitriades, Tom was surrounded by family, friends and bandmates when he died – which is fitting for someone who was widely recognised as one of the nicest people in rock music.

Over five decades Tom Petty had worked both solo and with the Heartbreakers, the band he formed in the mid-1970s, to produce pithy, always relevant and sometimes beautiful songs that brought a real clarity to his 1960s and Southern roots. Many of his hits became radio staples – like 'American Girl', 'Refuge', 'Free Fallin' and 'Don't Come Around Here No More'.

In the late 1980s Tom Petty joined the new Travelling Wilburys supergroup alongside George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne – band members who, with typical modesty, Tom once described to me as “my elders and betters”. The Wilburys' sound became the blueprint for Tom Petty's first solo album, 'Full Moon Fever', which was produced by Jeff Lynne and became one of Petty's most successful works, achieving triple platinum sales.

I spoke to Tom Petty in 2002 just after his appearance in the 'Concert for George' – the celebration of George Harrison's life at the Royal Albert Hall organised by Eric Clapton and George Harrison's widow, Olivia. Tom Petty was typically self-effacing, saying how he'd felt so very humbled to participate in an event where so many icons of US and UK rock were performing. “That might just have been the ultimate music career highlight for me...what an amazing event,” he reflected.

Tom went on to say, “You know, I always felt I owed a big debt to Britain. The Heartbreakers and I were pretty much ignored in America in our early days but then we came to England and supported Nils Lofgreen on a tour and people here were very enthusiastic about us. Soon we headlined our own UK tours and we had an album in the UK charts. It was only after that the Americans started taking us seriously and our singles'Breakdown' and 'American Girl' became hits through getting a lot of air play on US radio. They say that some of the radio stations even thought we were a British act initially – which is funny. I was actually rather flattered by that at the time, being a big fan of so many British musicians.”

Tom Petty will be hugely missed.









Related Links:

http://www.tompetty.com/
https://en-gb.facebook.com/tompetty/
https://twitter.com/tompetty


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