Five years ago, Sunday, (October 2nd, 2017) the rock word faced a particularly harsh blow with the sudden death of the legendary Tom Petty at age 66 at UCLA Medical Center, one day after suffering cardiac arrest at his home. Before the official announcement came down, fans had spent the better part of October 1st on tenterhooks as word was incorrectly leaked by law enforcement earlier in the day that Petty had died of a heart attack — before it was retracted and announced that he was alive, yet unconscious and pulled off life support.
Petty had wrapped his 40th anniversary tour with the Heartbreakers on September 25th, 2017 at L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl. According to TMZ: “(Petty’s wife) Dana York seemed confused and upset when she dialed 911 on Sunday, October 1st at around 10:45 PM. The dispatcher tried to get her to administer CPR, but Dana needed help. You hear another man take the phone but then Dana takes it back. She hears very soft breathing, tries CPR and it seems he breathes better. . . Tom was in full cardiac arrest and unconscious. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support but there was no brain activity. A chaplain came to administer last rights and he was taken off of life support.”
The site posted that Petty was taken off life support and at “10:30 Monday morning (October 2nd), a chaplain was called to Tom’s hospital room. We’re told the family has a do not resuscitate order on Tom. The singer is not expected to live throughout the day, but he’s still clinging to life. A report that the LAPD confirmed the singer’s death is inaccurate — the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. handled the emergency.”
According to a source close to Tom Petty, the Heartbreakers leader lived in near constant pain, with an unnamed insider telling Radaronline.com, “Tom hadn’t been doing well for a while, and when the band got back from London, he seemed to be on his last legs. Back in the ’90s, Tom had a very bad heroin habit, and it left him with muscle and bone pain. Recently, Tom had to be given vitamin B12 shots — 30 or 40 units a day — just to give him the energy to perform! Tom was in severe pain. He was due to have a hip replacement and was exhausted from working his butt off. . . His family begged him to rest up, but he vowed to finish the tour for his fans. Tom knew there wouldn’t be any more shows. He wanted to go out on top. He blew the place away! Tom left it all on stage. Unfortunately, it cost him his life! Tom knew he gave everything he had to rock ‘n’ roll and his fans. He was ready to go.”
Tom Petty’s death was officially ruled an accidental overdose. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner stated the cause of death to be “multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity.” The report noted that Petty suffered from coronary artery atherosclerosis and emphysema.
Prior to his death, Petty, who was suffering from a broken hip, “had taken several pain medications, including Fentanyl, oxycodone and generic Xanax. Other medications included generic (sleep aid) Restoril, and generic Celexa, (which treats depression).
The musician who was undoubtedly closest to Tom Petty was his partner in crime since the early-’70s, guitarist, collaborator, and co-producer Mike Campbell. Campbell, who along with Petty’s family and Heartbreakers bandmates were at his bedside in his final hours, just recalled the scene at the hospital to Rolling Stone, “They had his hair straight. He was medicated and very still, but he looked like an angel. . . Sorry I’m crying. It’s going to take me a while, but I’m at peace with the way we left things. . . It was more than friendship. It was almost like destiny or a divine power that brought us together.”
Campbell is now part of Fleetwood Mac‘s touring unit, which included Petty’s 1989 Full Moon Fever classic “Free Fallin'” in the band’s most recent setlists. Campbell has also moved on with his solo band the Dirty Knobs and will be opening for the Who this fall.
Campbell, who was aware that Petty was dealing with hip pain during the band’s final tour, revealed that he asked Petty about it, recalling, “I’d check on him and say, ‘Are you OK?’ He never said, ‘I’m dying! I can’t do this!’ The worst he would say was, ‘I can feel it, but I can do the show.’ His face was always full of joy. After a while, I quit worrying about him.”
Tom Petty, who had just wrapped the 40th anniversary tour with the Heartbreakers, made no bones of the fact that whatever he had gotten as a musician over the decades was due to his connection and bond with his audience: “There were times when I really had to work and hustle. I never felt like a gotten a huge promo from the music business. I don’t think they ever held me up and made things easy for me. My audience is what’s made me survive, actually. It’s actually the people we play to and that buy the records that have made us a sort of, contradiction.”
Petty told us that he believed he was keeping up his end of the bargain to his fans each and every time he stepped onstage with the Heartbreakers: “I think there are a few that they expect to see — ‘Free Fallin’,’ and ‘Refugee,’ and ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance.’ I think this music was meant to be accessible to people. And when I was a young guy comin’ up and an album was three bucks, and I’d go out and collect Coke bottles, or whatever, if I really had to have this album, I could raise three bucks and get it. And (concert) tickets were really cheap in those days. I don’t want to play only to the elite. I’d like to play to everyone.”
Tom Petty was laid to rest on October 16th, 2017 at a private service in Pacific Palisades, California at The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. Petty’s daughter AnnaKim Violette Petty posted photos of the Lake Shrine on her Instagram account, including a shot of her and sister Adria Petty, writing: “We care about each other and love our bad ass father.” Rolling Stone reported: “The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine previously hosted the funeral for Beatles legend — and Petty’s Traveling Wilburys bandmate — George Harrison in 2001. Beyond the Shrine’s Golden Lotus Archway notably sits the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial, which includes a 1,000-year-old Chinese stone sarcophagus holding a portion of Gandhi’s ashes.”
Among the close family friends shocked by the sudden loss of Tom Petty is George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison, who grew up with Petty as a constant in his life: “Y’know, we were all so close. As families we hung out; the Harrison’s and the Petty’s, y’know, I hang out with them. They’ve been my neighbors, they’re my friends, y’know, they’re my family. It’s a huge, huge loss. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Heartbreakers in the last week. They’re my family, y’know? And they’ve always really looked after me ever since my father passed away. And I spent a lot of time with Jeff (Lynne) this weekend — it hasn’t hit me yet how much I’m going to miss him. I just drove past his house a minute ago, and it’s — yeah, my heart’s broken. I mean, I haven’t felt an outpouring of grief and love like that since my father died.”
Bruce Springsteen spoke about hearing of Petty’s death, recalling to Rolling Stone: “I got the phone call and told the folks in my house. There were shrieks of horror. You couldn’t quite believe it. We were from the same generation of rock & rollers. We started around the same time and had a lot of the same influences. And when I lived in California, I got to know him quite well. He was just a lovely guy who loved rock & roll and came up the hard way.”
Unbeknownst to fans, Petty was bravely enduring his last string of dates with a hairline fracture in his hip. Keyboardist Benmont Tench said of Petty’s final shows: “He was just kicking ass and we had found another level of playing as a band. There was a depth of soul coming through. I figured I’d get a call in a month or two: ‘Tom wants to get together and jam some s*** out.'”
Mike Campbell said about the tour closer and final Heartbreakers concert at the Hollywood Bowl: “It was magical, it was spiritual. Everybody was so happy, especially Tom — full of glory and hope. I’m just so sad to think that I’m not going to play those songs again.”
Set for release on November 25th is Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ four-CD / six LP-set, Live At The Fillmore (1997). The collection, which was produced by Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and longtime producer/engineer Ryan Ulyate, was culled from the band’s legendary 1997 20-night stand at the San Francisco venue.
The shows from January and February 1997 have become legendary, with each night featuring a different setlist allowing Petty and the band to delve into their back catalogue and flex their muscles on old favorites and cover versions. The final night of the run — February 7th, 1997 — was broadcast live and proved to be the longest show of the stand, clocking in at a whopping three hours with the Heartbreakers tackling 40 songs.
2020 saw the release of the five-disc set collection, Wildflowers & All The Rest, restores Tom Petty’s original broad concept of the watershed 1994 solo release. The compilation was curated by Tom’s daughters, Adria and Annakim Petty and his wife Dana Petty, who were assisted by Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, with the project produced by Ryan Ulyate.
The Wildflowers & All The Rest “Deluxe Edition” features 15 home studio recordings made by Petty and is rounded-off with 14 live performances of songs from Wildflowers, recorded on various tours from 1995 to 2017, along with 16 studio recordings of alternate takes of Wildflower’s songs.
In April 2021, the Petty’s released Finding Wildflowers (Alternate Versions). The 16-track collection, culled from the recent deluxe box set of Petty’s 1994 solo Wildflowers album, includes alternate takes of such favorites as “You Wreck Me,” “It’s Good To Be King,” “Honey Bee,” and “Wildflowers”
Last year also saw the release of Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making Of Wildflowers, the new Tom Petty documentary focusing on the sessions for Wildflowers album. The doc draws from a newly discovered archive of 16mm film showing Petty at work on the celebrated album.
2018 saw the first posthumous Petty releases with the box set, titled An American Treasure. The set was curated by Adria and Dana Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and Ryan Ulate. The 60-track career spanning box features classic hits and album tracks, alongside unreleased live and studio material.
Also released was The Best Of Everything, the first career-spanning collection to feature all of Tom Petty’s hits with the Heartbreakers, his solo work, and side band Mudcrutch. The 38-track set includes two previously unreleased tracks — “For Real” and the album’s lead single — an alternate version of the title track, “which restores a never-heard second verse to the song that was originally recorded for 1985’s Southern Accents album.”
The package also features an essay on Petty written especially for the collection by Academy Award-winning screenwriter, director, author and journalist Cameron Crowe.”
Tom Petty was born on October 20th, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida. One of his first guitar teachers was future Eagle Don Felder. His band Mudcrutch featured Tom Leadon, they younger brother of Eagles co-founder Bernie Leadon. Petty is survived by his second wife Dana York, two adult daughters, Adria and AnnaKim, along with a stepson Dylan.
After splitting with his early band Mudcrutch and forming the Heartbreakers with drummer Stan Lynch and Ron Blair along with Mudcrutch holdovers — guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench — Petty’s songs, often written with Campbell, have been a part of the American lexicon upon release — including such instant classics as “The Waiting,” “American Girl,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Refugee,” “Breakdown,” “Listen To Her Heart,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “You Got Lucky,” “A Woman In Love,” “Love Is A Long Road,” “Walls,” “It’s Good To Be King,” “You Wreck Me,” “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “A Face In The Crowd,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “Jammin’ Me,” “Into The Great White Open,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Yer So Bad,” “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” “Learning To Fly,” “Wildflowers,” and many more.
In 1988 he teamed up with ELO‘s Jeff Lynne along with idols George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison to form the Traveling Wilburys, releasing two albums in 1988 and 1990. In 2008 he reformed Mudcrutch, releasing the band’s self-titled album with a followup in 2016.
Tom Petty was honored with the 2017 MusiCares Person of The Year in Los Angeles. Petty touched upon his early days in the speech — including his first meeting of future friends George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Petty recalled: “I got into town in 1974 and I was signed by Denny Cordell to Leon Russell‘s Shelter Records. Leon brought me over to his house. He liked the songs I’d done. He said, ‘If it comes to a thing where we need some words I need you to be here, and I’ll pay you for it.’ The first session, in comes George Harrison, Ringo and (drummer) Jim Keltner, and they didn’t need any words because those cats are so cool.”
Petty went on to say: “We were hanging out and I found myself slipping my sunglasses on. Leon said, ‘What the hell you doing with dark glasses, man?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, it feels cool. Like Jimmy Keltner, he has his.’ He said, ‘Wearing sunglasses at night is an honor you earn. Lou Adler had Johnny Rivers and the Mamas & The Papas before he put them glasses on. Jack Nicholson made really s**** Boris Karloff movies before he put the glasses on.’ Well, I’m putting my glasses on but I thank Leon for that advice.”
Tom Petty’s greatest commercial success came with his 1989 debut album, Full Moon Fever, which featured Jeff Lynne’s songwriting and production. Petty recalled to Rolling Stone how the album’s signature track, “Free Fallin'” came to be: “Jeff Lynne and I were sitting around with the idea of writing a song and I was playing the keyboard and I just happened to hit on that main riff, the intro of the song, and I think Jeff said something like, ‘That’s a really good riff but there’s one chord too many,’ so I think I cut it back a chord and then, really just to amuse Jeff, honestly, I just sang that first verse. Then he starts laughing. Honestly, I thought I was just amusing Jeff but then I got to the chorus of the song and he leaned over to me and said the word, ‘freefalling.’ And I went to sing that and he said, ‘No, take your voice up and see how that feels.’ So I took my voice up an octave or two, but I couldn’t get the whole word in. So I sang ‘freeee,’ then ‘free falling.’ And we both knew at that moment that I’d hit on something pretty good.”
Petty went on to recall, “It was that fast. He had to go somewhere, and I wrote the last verse and kind of just polished the rest of the song and when I saw him the next day I played him the song and he was like, ‘Wow, you did that last night?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And he said. ‘We’ve got to go cut this,’ and we just took off to Mike Campbell’s studio where we knew we could get in and get it done that day. So we went in and made the record that day.”
Tom Petty recalled the genesis of Full Moon Fever, which has sold five million copies in the U.S. alone: “I co-wrote most of them with Jeff, I wrote two of them by myself, and a couple of them were Jeff and Mike Campbell got involved to some extent. It was all different, like, sometimes I might’ve had the song done and Jeff would come up with the one brilliant chord that made it even more special, y’know?”
Mike Campbell explained that a track coming together in the studio nearly always lived or died by Petty’s actual performance: “You’ll find — just ironically — any time a vocal on a track is good, usually everybody steps up to it. It’s rare that there’s a great vocal and no one played that well on that take. It seems to spur everybody on. We found that if the vocal was really good, that usually meant that Tom was in a good groove and the band was in sync with him. So usually the other stuff fell into place.”
2015 saw the release of the officially sanctioned biography, titled, Petty: The Biography, written by Warren Zanes, who played in the band the Del Fuegos, who opened for the Heartbreakers back in 1987. Billboard.com published select quotes of Petty’s featured in the tome, including the first time he remembers being beaten by his father Earl: “I remember it first happening when I was probably four. Four, maybe five, because it was a ’55 Cadillac. I had this crappy slingshot my father had given me, a plastic thing, the first one I ever had. I was in the yard shooting this slingshot. And cars are driving by. I’m just like, ‘I wonder if I can get a car.’ And whack! This big Cadillac. It was going by pretty slowly, and I just nailed the fin on that thing. The car came to an immediate stop. The driver got out, and he was so f***ing mad. . . I felt kind of weird, not knowing what was coming next. But when my father got home later, he came in, took a belt and beat the living s*** out of me. He beat me so bad that I was covered in raised welts, from my head to my toes. I mean, you can’t imagine someone hitting a child like that. Five years old. I remember it so well. My mother and my grandmother laid me in my bed, stripped me, and they took cotton and alcohol, cleaning these big welts all over my body.”
Petty also spoke candidly about his bout with hard drugs, explaining how heroin slowly creeps in and ruins your life: “You start losing your soul. You realize one day, ‘S***, I’ve lost myself. I’m hanging out with people I wouldn’t be seen with in a million years, and I have to get out of this.’ I wanted to quit. Using heroin went against my grain. I didn’t want to be enslaved to anything. So I was always trying to figure out how to do less, and then that wouldn’t work. Tried to go cold turkey, and that wouldn’t work. It’s an ugly f***ing thing. Really ugly. I fear that if I talk about it, people will think, ‘Well, I could do it and get off.’ But you can’t. Very few people do.”
Luckily, Tom Petty, broke the cycle of addiction and abuse and maintained a strong and loving relationship with his two daughters: “What’s interesting about my girls right now is they seem to be going back and finding older stuff. Y’know, I have one that’s just discovered Muddy Waters and thinks he’s great, and they have very eclectic tastes. They’re all over the map — but, sure, they play me stuff. They turned me on to Radiohead several years ago.”
Tom Petty explained how night-after-night, he rewards the fans that stuck by him no matter what: “I actually don’t sell the first two rows. We don’t even put the first two rows on sale and we wait until we’re actually at the venue, and then I have them go out and give the last two rows the first two rows — and it’s wonderful.”
Petty also admitted that what he lacks in vocal chops, he made up for by being an honest singer: “My singing voice compared to Pavarotti wouldn’t stand up, y’know? But I think I’m good at getting over a ‘believably.’ Y’know, if I’m going to play the narrator, I want people to believe me, y’know? And I think those are the best singers, the ones that you tend to believe.”
In 2016, Tom Petty’s good friend and hero, Byrds leader Roger McGuinn, performed “American Girl” before saluting Petty at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame inductions: “Tom Petty is a historian and he tells stories about people and cultures and he puts them on these really great rock n’ roll records. He’s the guy that really got me interested in touring and doing the things that I do solo. And I had the opportunity to write a song with him one time and it’s amazing to watch him work.”
Petty took the stage and joked with the crowd of music industry heavies: “I’m sort of the ‘rock n’ roll white trash section’ of the show here (laughter). And, we’re rock n’ roll music, and it’s so different to a lot of what goes on. Writing a song for a rock band, you better bring in a really good song, ’cause they don’t take it well if it’s not, and many times I went back to the drawing board. I’ve written so much. . . Y’know, I start thinking about songwriters, and I mean, if no one ever wrote another song — we’d be fine, y’know? (Laughter) There’s plenty of songs (laughter) — but I still do it, y’know? Because I love it and it’s a gift. It’s not something everybody can do. Everybody can do it, but they can’t do it good.”
Tom Petty explained what he believes sets the Heartbreakers’ brand of rock apart from many other bands: “So much about this music is about feel as opposed to, say, technique. Technique is great, but it will never substitute for feel. And that’s what the Heartbreakers and I are striving for. So that you feel it and you believe it.”
2017 saw the release of Bidin’ My Time — the Tom Petty-produced album by Byrds co-founder Chris Hillman. Hillman recalled to us the process of getting Tom Petty involved with the album: “(Laughs) After I had a conversation with Tom in the fall — November — I said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ He says, ‘Well, do you want me to?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but can you make the commitment?’ and he said, ‘Well, do you want me to do this?’ (laughs) I said, ‘Of course — I . . I’d love to work with you!’ He said, ‘Great, we’ll use my studio and everything.’ I told him the budget we had, which wasn’t very much, and he said, ‘That’ll be interesting’ when he heard the amount of money (laughs) we had to work with. I’ve never had as much fun recording as and I think a lot of it has to do with there was really no pressure attached.”
When we last caught up with him, Tom Petty told us that over 40 years after releasing his first album, the songs he writes and records still need to ring true to his life: “With me, I just have to go with what I feel passionate about or it won’t sound truthful, y’know, so I kinda just, as a songwriter, go where the wind blows me, y’know? I don’t really know if one’s harder than the other.”
Ringo Starr was among the legions of fans and musicians left reeling in the wake of Tom Petty’s death. We caught up with Ringo who was in Las Vegas preparing for his All Starr Band‘s current run at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, when the one-two punch of the 2017 Vegas massacre and Petty’s death occurred. Ringo spoke to us about his good friend Tom Petty: “I’ll miss Tom. Tom was a good friend. I played with Tom — Tom played with me, y’know? I got to know him over the years. ‘Really got to know him when he was in the (Traveling) Wilburys, y’know, with George (Harrison) in there. Y’know, Vegas was on Sunday, the madness went on here; just by chance, I’d booked to come here Monday and the vibe was pretty low — understandably, of course. But then in the middle of this meeting, someone turns to me, says ‘Tom Petty’s dead.’ (I thought) ‘Oh my God, what else can go down?’ It was a shock. What you first hear, it’s like, ‘What???‘ Y’know, like, when I heard Elvis was dead — it’s like, ‘What???‘ It has to sink in.”
Unfortunately, Ringo went on to say that his peers dying off has been a constant for him since he became a professional musician nearly 60 years ago: “Our business — we’ve lost them very young as well. All throughout my career, we’ve lost really great friends and people who weren’t my friends, but were great musicians or writers. But overall, y’know, there’s still a lot of us out there doing what we’re do. Anyway, it was very sad, that. . . he died. But, that’s all I can say, really. I’ll miss Tom and God bless him and his family.”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 2005, Petty was awarded Billboard’s Century Award, the organization’s highest honor for creative achievement.
2017: FAMILY, FRIENDS, & FANS SALUTE TOM PETTY
AnnaKim Violette Petty (Tom’s daughter): “One week ago today I was watching my dad play we showed up rushed to our seats I got stoned had a beer the lights went dark sat watching realizing I grew up on these songs — everyone grew up on these songs. This is real American Art made from the roots of real people who deeply love life my father loves music more than anything and always put music first it’s going to be healing to know I will never go a day without hearing his music I love his class honesty and how strange and funny he is. Tom Petty is an American Icon because his heart has always put human rights first. We are one I love you dad your songs are dreams manifested.”
Bob Dylan: “It’s shocking, crushing news. I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend – and I’ll never forget him.”
Roger McGuinn: “Before there were books, music recorded our history. Tom Petty was a historian. He didn’t just write songs. He wrote about the stories, people, and cultures of our times and then he put it all to music. When he wrote a song, he flew up to the great wide open, caught an idea and would come free falling back to earth. Then he did it again. I know, I had the privilege of writing with him once. His songs are movies for our imaginations and longer than 4 words. His every verse a diamond and every chorus gold. His music will always be with me and all of us.”
Bruce Springsteen: “Down here on E Street, we’re devastated and heartbroken over the death of Tom Petty. Our hearts go out to his family and bandmates. I’ve always felt a deep kinship with his music. A great songwriter and performer, whenever we saw each other it was like running into a long lost brother. Our world will be a sadder place without him.”
Paul McCartney: “Dear Tom, so sad to hear of his passing. What a lovely, intelligent and talented man he was. Love to his family.”
Ringo Starr: “God bless Tom Petty peace and love to his family I’m sure going to miss you Tom”
Julian Lennon: “More sad news today, hearing of Tom Petty’s passing… Have always been a fan. Sadly never got to see him LIVE…”
Sean Ono Lennon: “Tom Petty R.I.P. Some people are just born cool. Such a legend. I was lucky to cross paths a few times.”
Dhani Harrison: “Thank you dear Tommy for always being there for me. You got me through some of the hardest moments of my life. See you on the other side. I love you, bless.”
Mick Jagger: “So sad about Tom Petty, he made some great music. Thoughts are with his family.”
Brian Wilson: “I’m heartbroken to hear about Tom Petty passing. He was just too young and still in his prime. Tom was a hell of a songwriter and record-maker and he will be missed by everyone who loves music. I’m so sad to hear about this. Love & Mercy to Tom’s friends, family and fans.”
Mike Love: “I’m very saddened to hear of the passing of Tom Petty. A great artist loved by millions, we will miss you greatly Tom. Rest in Peace”
Al Jardine: “Tom Petty. . . stunned. One of the great rock ‘n’ roll legends. The whole package. Our prayers go to his family, friends and fans – love Al & Mary Ann Jardine”
Elton John: “Tom Petty’s music and songs are timeless. He was a wonderful writer, musician and singer. Irreplaceable and unique.”
John Fogerty: “Tom’s music means the world to me and my wife, Julie. He is her favorite artist. We are just devastated to hear of our friend’s passing.”
John Mellencamp: “Tom Petty was the Edward Hopper of American songwriters. He was a certain kind of bird that had no legs so he could never land on this earth; he lived his whole life in the sky. And now he will spread his wings and sleep on the wind. His name is written in the stars #TomPettyRIP”
Steve Van Zandt: “Man this cannot be happening. Not Tom Petty please. Our deepest love and condolences to his family and band. A brother and true believer.”
Joe Walsh: “SAD SAD. day. I just heard Tom passed. One of the great ones. Thank you for all the great music T- Rest in peace.”
Don Felder: “It is with a shattered heart that I write this post. Tommy’s passing feels like I’ve lost a little brother. Growing up together in Gainesville and seeing one of my students blossom as an incredibly gifted musician and songwriter has been one of my most fulfilling experiences in this life. It was obvious very early on in his career that his talent, magnetism and charisma were a very special gift that few souls in this world are given. He has given this world so many wonderful memories and touched millions with his magic. Gone far too soon. May he rest in peace knowing how much he is loved and appreciated by all of us that are left behind.”
Peter Frampton: “I can’t believe we have lost Tom Petty on this already horrible day. My love to his wife & children and the entire Heartbreaker family.”
Bryan Adams: “RIP Tom Petty. Thanks for all the great rockin’ music, hard to believe you’re gone.”
Carole King: “My heart goes out to all the people affected by the horrible shooting in Las Vegas, & to family, friends & fans of Tom Petty, of which I’m one.”
Peter Gabriel: “Very sad to say goodbye to Tom Petty, he was a kind and generous man, an excellent musician.”
Jon Bon Jovi: “I’m crushed. . . Praying for all those affected by Vegas last night. And now the loss of one of my great influences Tom Petty today.”
Sheryl Crow: “This is unbearable. Vegas and now a great music hero has passed. You brought us so much joy. We will miss you.”
John Densmore: “A superb songwriting craftsman has crossed over”
Sammy Hagar: “My thoughts and prayers go out for the victims & their families of #LasVegas today as well as for @tompetty’s friends & family.”
Meat Loaf: “Today Just gets worse. The very talented musician, writer Tom Petty has just passed away.”
Paul Stanley: “No! We have lost Tom Petty. From our opening act in the seventies to becoming a brilliant songwriter and performer I have loved his music.”
Rick Allen: “Rest In Peace Tom Petty”
Nikki Sixx: “Tom Petty. One of the greatest songwriters of our generation.T hank you for ALL the music. Prayers to your family & band members”
David Coverdale: “So sad to hear of Tom’s demise . . . such a wonderful talent & super guy”
Billy Idol: “Shocked & upset 2 hear about #tompetty ‘we got lucky when we found u.’ RIP”
STEVIE NICKS REMEMBERS TOM PETTY: 2017
Two weeks after the October 2nd, 2017 death of her dear friend and collaborator, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks finally opened up about the Heartbreakers leader, sharing some recent memories of her and Petty. Nicks, who on July 9th, 2017 appeared on the bill at London’s’ Hyde Park with Petty and the band, watched from the wings with Shania Twain, before Nicks joined the band for a rendition of their 1981 joint hit, the Petty-written “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
Nicks recalled to Rolling Stone: “We hadn’t played ‘Stop Draggin” since (the February 2017 Petty) MusiCares (tribute). When I went into the dressing room before the Hyde Park show, it was me, the Heartbreakers, (Petty’s backing singers on the 2017 tour) the Webb Sisters, some other friends. We stood there and rehearsed it with (drummer) Steve Ferrone beating on the couch, everybody sort of humming their parts. Tom and Mike played guitar. Ron Blair dragged out a bass but didn’t play it very loud because it wasn’t plugged in. We went through it a couple of times. It was funny — you play a wrong chord, and everybody’s eyes go straight up. We didn’t know it as well as we thought we did (laughs).”
When asked how Petty was always able to write about women “with frank but affectionate empathy,” Nicks explained, “He had two daughters. He had two amazing loves (first wife, childhood sweetheart Jane and his second wife Dana, whom he married in 2001). He was surrounded by really strong women. The women around him pretty much went their own way, and he was good with that. He gave me a lot of advice about stuff. He was the kind of person who said, ‘Here’s my advice. If you take it, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too.’ He was never going to shake a finger in your face and make you feel bad if you didn’t take his advice.”
Stevie Nicks offered an example of how Petty handed out advice to her: “It was toward the end of 1994. I was at my house in Phoenix — I had come out of rehab — and I had dinner with him at the Ritz-Carlton. I had a visitation from an old boyfriend, right after my rehab, and it had shaken me. I asked Tom if he would help me write a song. And he said, ‘No. You are one of the premier songwriters of all time. You don’t need me to write a song for you.’ He said, ‘Just go to your piano and write a good song. You can do that.'”
She added: When I walked out of the Ritz-Carlton, I had that feeling that he would be waiting to hear it. The song is called ‘Hard Advice.’ It ended up on 24 Karat Gold (Songs From The Vault). The chorus goes ‘Sometimes he’s my best friend.’ It was really ‘Sometimes Tom’s my best friend.’ I changed it because I knew Tom would not want me to say his name. That’s how well I know him.”
A while back Stevie Nicks told us that she felt a particular kinship with Tom Petty and his music: “Tom is my favorite writer, ’cause I kinda feel if I had come into this word as a boy, I would’ve been him, y’know? It’s like I really do, I feel that there’s a part of Tom’s writing that I relate so easily to.”