Tom Petty wasn't always a rock star. At one time, he was a small boy with rock star ambitions. Before he was yet a teen, he knew that rock and roll was his fate. An encounter with the King of rock, Elvis, spawned his interest in music. Early guitar lessons from Don Felder, who was to go on to join the Eagles, gave him some of the guitar skills he needed. But seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan TV show was the real determining factor. Petty knew that he'd be a rock & roll star right then and there!
In the middle of 70's, Petty was just spreading his musical wings. He began with a band called the Sundowners and another called The Epics & Mudcrutch. It wasn't intil '76 that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was forged. That very same year, their first release debuted. Regrettably, the album was not a great success in the U.S. Later, in '77, the singel named "Breakdown" was re-released and climbed up to number 40 in themusic charts.
The 2nd & 3rd releases did alot better. The second was named "Your Gonna Get It!" It was the groups first Top 40 album, featuring the singles"I Need To Know" and "Listen To Her Heart". Their third album, "Damn The Torpedos", featured the singles "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Refugee". The recording skyrocketed to platinum, selling almost 2 million units. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers had made it to the top of the '70's rock & roll charts in style.
It wasn't until the mid 80's that the next recording "Southern Accents" was released. At the time, the music video for the single "Don't Come Around Here No More" was picked apart by womens groups. The video portrayed Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. Petty and his strange friends mock and chase pitiful Alice, then they consume her like a cake. Fans thought it was awesome though and it's a classic video to this day!
Tom took a bit of time for a solo attempt and collaborative projects. In '88, he launched the Travelling Willburys with friends Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne. The groups 1st song,"Handle With Care", was intended as a B-side for one of Harrisons singles, but it was really too good. This started them recording an album they named The Travelling Willburys Vol. 1. After Orbisons death, a second album titled, The Travelling willburys Vol. 3 was released. Since Harrison's death, Petty has been integrating the groups songs into his stage shows, possibly as a tribute to Orbison & Harrison.
The release, "Full Moon Fever" was published in '89. It produced 3 hits that still get air-play to this day; "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin" and "Runnin' Down A Dream". While this release was believed a solo endeavor, Tom Petty got a hand from a few of the Heartbreakers and other artists.
The 90's contributed three new releases from Petty. The first, named "Into the Great Wide Open" was released in 1991. The lead song and "Learning To Fly" were both hits. Then, in 1994, "Wildflowers" was put out. It included the wildly popular "You Don't Know How It Feels" and the album went on to sell over 3 million units in the U.s.
In '96, Petty and the Heartbreakers collaborated once again. This time, they produced the soundtrack for the movie "She's The One" starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. There were three singles issued from the album also a cover of a Jeff Beck song. Later on that same year, Petty and the band also teamed up with the great Johnny Cash on his "Unchained" release.
In '99, they issued another album named "Echo". This release moved up to number 10 in the United States album charts and two songs were issued as singles in the United States, "Room at the Top" and "Free Girl Now".
"The Last DJ", released in 2002 criticized the recording industry. Tom Petty spoke about the industries developing greed, diluted music, and abuse of publishing pop music made by barely-clad young females. The release spoke to the fans though and ultimately reached #9 on the United States music charts.
Petty is still out there doing live shows and in the studio. He's a household name in the rock & roll scene. Rock and roll fans have loved this legendary artist for years. After over 30 years in the business, creating music and being on the road, this well traveled veteran is one of the greatest rockers out there.
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K.L. "Vin" Hayes leads a team of freelance writers and researchers. Over the last 10 years, they have worked together to produce high-quality digital information. You may contact him through his web sites; audioflip.com & biblioflip.com
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