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Tom Petty biographer reflects on losing a "great American songwriter"

04 October 2017

The music focused squarely on the songs themselves: Petty's singing is the center of our attention. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley covered Tom's "Southern Accents" on his solo album, The Driver, duetting with Tom's friend Stevie Nicks on the track. Full Moon Fever went on to sell more than five million copies in the US, according to the RIAA. I asked him by email if the Stereo Review piece in my memory praising Petty was written by him.

Today, it's nearly impossible to imagine modern country music without Petty, who finished the work the Eagles began when they blended rootsy acoustic instruments with tougher rock rhythms.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers backstage after their gig at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia, PA. November, 1979.

Petty and his band ended each show on their final tour with the song, which the rocker first recorded in studio on July 4, 1976.

Although he wasn't credited alongside the likes of Michael Jackson and Madonna as a pioneer of the MTV era, Petty and The Heartbreakers definitely made their mark on the channel formerly known as Music Television and its Video Music Awards. The album cover screams 1980s and "You Got Lucky" is driven by synthesizers, something not typically associated with Petty's music.

The rocker's vivid story-song is turned into a more than 6 ½-minute mini-movie with Johnny Depp starring as Eddie Rebel and featuring Faye Dunaway, Gabrielle Anwar and action figure-size versions of Petty and his bandmates, who also make full-size appearances. It's really, really good.' And they go to me, 'Well, it's terrific, and now you can go out. and you can sing it.' Tom had done a great vocal, a great vocal. And as his songs began to influence younger artists, he passed those values on in ways that continue to shape rock music.

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released its fourth album "Hard Promises" in 1981.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood California.

Critics and rock historians often connect Petty to Bob Dylan and the Byrds and generally treat him like a "60s rocker who mysteriously emerged in the '70s".

"I think we've lost one of the great American songwriters and one of the great American band leaders". Musicians such as Juliette Lewis, Courtney Love, Talib Kweli, Kid Rock, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Stanley and Lin-Manuel Miranda were among those posting remembrances.

Springsteen said he was "devastated" to hear of Petty's passing and that he's "always felt a deep kinship with his music". Here are his top ten songs. I've had two people contact me in my life about coming out of comas to their family playing a song to them of mine, that they had liked before they were injured.

In the end, Tom Petty found himself satisfied with his body of work-"the soundtrack to his life", as he told Esquire in 2006, taking note of his long and winding journey to success. So I said, 'I'm going to go. "I'd be lying if I didn't say I was thinking this might be the last big one".

Tom Petty biographer reflects on losing a