Thomas Earl Petty was born on October 20th, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. Like many of his peers, Tom admired Elvis Presley and soon learned the guitar. Eventually Tom formed a band, which would later be known as Mudcrutch. The group signed a record deal and moved to Los Angeles in 1974. In 1975 the band released the single “Depot Street,” which was not very successful. Later that year broke up. The next year Petty along with Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench formed the Heartbreakers. Ron Blair and Stan Lynch soon joined and they released their self-titled debut album “Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers,” on November 9th, 1976. The recorded included the now famous songs “Breakdown,” and “American Girl,” but faired better in the UK than it did in the US. “Breakdown” was re-released in 1977; ranking #40 on the charts, and the band went on a tour of the United Kingdom.
The Heartbreakers released “You’re Gonna Get It,” in 1978, which paved the way for 1979’s “Damn the Torpedoes.” “…Torpedoes,” produced the now classic songs “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Here Comes My Girl,” and the unforgettable “Refugee.” The album went all the way to #2 on the charts and sold more than 2 million copies in the US alone. “Hard Promises,” was released in 1981 and Howie Epstein soon replaced Ron Blair. With the addition of Epstein, the band released “Long After Dark,” in 1982. The album included the popular track “You Got Lucky,” which helped it climb the charts, reaching the #9 spot. The band continued their success with 1985’s “Southern Accents.” The album included the song “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” and would eventually sell more than a million copies in the US.
In 1988, Petty helped form what would surely be one of rock’s most star studded bands, the Traveling Wilburys. The band included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, and released their debut album “Traveling Wilburys Vol.1,” on October 18th, 1988. The album featured the songs “Last Night,” “Congratulations,” and “End of the Line,” and eventually sold more than 3 million copies in the US. The record also earned the band a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. Unfortunately Roy Orbison died shortly after the albums release in 1988.
Tom Petty made his solo debut in 1989 with the album “Full Moon Fever,” which featured members of the Heartbreakers and Traveling Wilburys. The record produced the hits “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin’,” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Not surprisingly “Full Moon…” took the #3 spot on the charts and was certified 5x’s Platinum in the US. Continuing his work with the Wilburys, the band released their second somewhat inappropriately titled album “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3,” in 1990. Unfortunately this would be the band’s last studio album with George Harrison, who died in November of 2001. Petty continued with the Heartbreakers and released “Into the Great Wide Open,” in 1991, which later sold more than 2 million copies. Steve Ferrone later joined the Heartbreakers and replaced Stan Lynch.
Petty recorded another solo album entitled “Wildflowers,” which was released in 1994. The record included the incredibly popular song “You Don’t Know How it Feels,” and ranked #8 on the charts. The Heartbreakers released “Echo” in 1999 and “The Last DJ,” in 2002. Petty released his third solo album “Highway Companion,” in 2006 and resurrected his band Mudcrutch in 2007. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers continued to tour and notably performed the halftime show at Super Bowl XLII in 2008. Petty’s Mudcrutch released their long overdue self-titled debut album on April 29th 2008. Although the Heartbreakers are not currently on tour, they are still active. Petty has also appeared in both TV and movies over the years, and most recently added his voice to the animated series “King of the Hill.” Tom Petty is a living legend and continues to draw in younger fans with his timeless and classic music. Sweet huh?
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