Anyway, that tour-which Petty announced was going to be his last major trek (so that he could spend time with family, especially his granddaughter)-finally wound down late last month on the West Coast, not far from his home. He was a writer and craftsman who added scores of songs to rock's lexicon.
Petty was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers rock band, producing such hits as "American Girl", "Breakdown", "Free Fallin", "Learning to Fly" and "Refugee". At 10 years old, I was as familiar with Tom Petty's discography as I was with the usual suspects on Radio Disney. It's been there for late nights, when there's still hundreds of miles to go, and it's been there every time I wasn't sure if I was cut out for the life I've chosen.
You may not know that Petty played what turned out to be his final shows just last Monday at the Hollywood Bowl, selling out three shows to conclude the band's 40th anniversary tour.
MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: I want to talk to you about the Heartbreakers. "Then we'd stop. I think that would be the end of it, if someone couldn't do it". He befriended Byrds leader Roger McGuinn and became close to George Harrison, who performed on "I Won't Back Down" and joined Petty, Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in the impromptu supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. In the 1980s, Petty and the Heartbreakers supported Bob Dylan on a nationwide tour.
"And I'm always like, 'I don't get sick.' But, [stuff] happens". And I do wonder what that's like for you just knowing that there's this direct tie from the very beginning of a song to what people know and remember about that song. And I said, "I'm sure you know this, but if we've got the audience on our wavelength, it doesn't matter how long it is".
It seems to me that he channeled all of his worries and woes into his music, and in doing so he created a lovely gift for us to enjoy and reflect upon. That took away some of its integrity. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002, praised them as "durable, resourceful, hard-working, likeable and unpretentious".