Tom Petty was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor, whose professional career is worth mentioning. He passed away in 2017, just 18 days before his 67th birthday, from an accidental prescription drug overdose following a series of medical problems including emphysema, and knee difficulties. After he was found unconscious and not breathing at his home in California, he was resuscitated and taken to the UCLA Medical Center, where he eventually died.
It's been three years without him but he still has a special place in our hearts. He left behind an incredible legacy and is considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time. Let's have a look back at his amazing music career!
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Long-time Beatles fan, Tom Petty realized he wanted to have his own band when he saw John, Paul, Ringo, and George, performing on The Ed Sullivan Show. That's how it all started. In the mid-1970's Tom formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, alongside Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch, and Benmont Tench. The rock band released 13 albums and several successful tracks such as "American Girl", "I Need to Know", and "Learning to Fly".
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Four years later they received the keys to the city of Gainesville, Florida. The Heartbreakers disbanded after Petty's death; their last album Hypnotic Eye was released in 2014.
Tom Petty's solo career
The late 1980s were a key part of Tom's outstanding music career. In 1988 he joined George Harrison's group The Traveling Wilburys, which also included top artists like Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan, with whom he released two albums. Although he was an active member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from 1976 to 2017, at some point the Florida native decided to pursue his career independently. In 1989 he released his first solo album called Full Moon Fever, which features some of his most famous tracks like "Free Fallin'", "I Won't Back Down", and "Runnin' Down a Dream". Later on, he released the albums Wildflowers, and Highway Companion, in 1994 and 2006, respectively.
Tom was a very talented musician and one of the best ways of proving it is by considering the awards he won in the past few decades. He received three Grammys - the first one for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group alongside The Traveling Wilburys in 1990; the second one for the same category but with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1992, and the most recent one in 2009 for Best Music Video, Long Form, also with his band.
Quick facts about Tom Petty's personal life
- In 1974 Petty married Jane Benyo, with whom he had two daughters, Adria, and Annakim. The couple divorced in 1996
- Tom Petty struggled with drug addiction from 1996 to 1999 due to emotional pain following his divorce from Benyo
- In 2001 he married Dana York and had a stepson named Dylan, from York's previous relationship. They were together until Petty's death
- He once said that the Heartbreakers would probably disband if one of its members died or became too ill
- In 2018, on what would have been his 68th birthday, the Northeast Park, located in his hometown Gainesville, was renamed Tom Petty Park