American musician, singer and songwriter Thomas Earl “Tom” Petty was born October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. He attended Gainesville High School. His interest in rock and roll music began at age ten when he met Elvis Presley.In the summer of 1961, his uncle was working on the set of Presley’s filmFollow That Dream in nearby Ocala, Florida, and invited Petty to come down and watch the shoot. He instantly became an Elvis Presley fan, and when he returned that Saturday he was greeted by his friend Keith Harben and soon traded his Wham-O slingshot for a collection of Elvis 45s.IOne of his first guitar teachers was Don Felder, a fellowGainesville resident, who would later join the Eagles. As a young man, Petty worked briefly on the grounds crew for the University of Florida, but never attended as a student. .Shortly after forming his musical aspirations, Petty started a band known as the Epics, later to evolve into Mudcrutch. Although the band, which featured future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, were popular in Gainesville, their recordings went unnoticed by a mainstream audience. However, their only single, “Depot Street”, remains popular amongst fans. The original Mudcrutch included guitarist Danny Roberts who was later replaced by bassist Charlie Souza.
After Mudcrutch split up, Petty reluctantly agreed to pursue a solo career. Tench decided to form his own group. Eventually, Petty and Campbell collaborated with Tench and fellow members Ron Blair and Stan Lynch, resulting in the first lineup of the Heartbreakers. Their eponymous debut album gained minute popularity amongst American audiences, achieving greater success in Britain. The single “Breakdown” was re-released in 1977 after the band toured in the United Kingdom in support of Nils Lofgren. The debut album was released by Shelter Records, which at that time was distributed by ABC Records.Their second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, featured the singles “I Need to Know” and “Listen To Her Heart”. Their third album, Damn the Torpedoes includes their breakthrough singles “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Here Comes My Girl” and “Refugee”.In September 1979, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed at a Musicians United for Safe Energy concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.Their rendition of “Cry To Me” was featured on the resulting No Nukes album’s Hard Promises also became a top-ten hit, spawning the hit single “The Waiting”. The album also featured Petty’s first duet, “Insider” with Stevie Nicks.Bass player Ron Blair quit the group, and was replaced on the fifth album (1982’s Long After Dark) by Howie Epstein; the resulting line-up would last until 1994. In 1985, the band participated in Live Aid, playing four songs at Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium.Southern Accents was also released in 1985which included the hit single “Don’t Come Around Here No More”. The song’s video featured Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter, mocking and chasing Alice from the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, then cutting and eating her as if she were a cake. The ensuing tour led to the live album Pack Up the Plantation: Live! and to an invitation from Bob Dylan; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers joined him on his True Confessions Tour and also played some dates with the Grateful Dead in 1986 and 1987. Also in 1987, the group released Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) which includes “Jammin’ Me” which Petty wrote with Dylan
In 1988, Petty became a founding member of the Traveling Wilburys, along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. The band’s first song, “Handle With Care”, was intended as a B-side of one of Harrison’s singles, but the group decided to record a full album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. A second Wilburys album, mischievously titledTraveling Wilburys Vol. 3 and recorded without the recently deceased Orbison, followed in 1990. The album was named Vol. 3 as a response to a series of bootlegged studio sessions being sold as Travelling Wilburys Vol. 2. In recent years, Petty has begun to incorporate Travelling Wilburys songs into his live shows, consistently playing “Handle With Care” in shows from 2003–2006, and for his 2008 tour making “End of the Line” a staple of his setlist.In 1989, Petty released Full Moon Fever, which featured hits “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. It was nominally his first solo album, although several Heartbreakers and other well-known musicians participated: Mike Campbell co-produced the album with Petty and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, and backing musicians included Campbell, Lynne, and fellow Wilburys Roy Orbison and George Harrison (Ringo Starr appears on drums in the video for “I Won’t Back Down”, but they were actually performed by Phil Jones).
Petty & the Heartbreakers reformed in 1991 and released Into the Great Wide Open, which was co-produced by Lynne and included the hit singles “Learning To Fly” and “Into The Great Wide Open”, the latter featuring Johnny Depp, Gabrielle Anwar, Faye Dunaway, andMatt LeBlanc in the video.Before leaving MCA Records, Tom and the Heartbreakers got together to record, live in the studio, two new songs for a Greatest Hitspackage. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”. Petty’s next solo album, 1994’s Wildflowers included the singles “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “You Wreck Me,” “It’s Good to Be King” and “A Higher Place”. In 1996, Petty, with the Heartbreakers, released a soundtrack to the movie She’s the One, starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. The album’s singles were “Walls (Circus)” (featuring Lindsey Buckingham), “Climb that Hill” and a song written by Lucinda Williams, “Change the Locks.” and a cover of “Asshole,” by Beck. The same year, the band accompanied Johnny Cash on Unchained for which Cash would win aGrammy for Best Country Album)
In 1994 a Tom Petty tribute album entitled You Got Lucky was released, featuring Everclear and Silkworm and in April 1996, Petty received the UCLA’s George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ Golden Note Award..In 1999 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their contribution to the recording industry. .In 1999, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers released another album which featured the songs , “Room at the Top” and “Free Girl Now”. The album reached number 10 in the U.S. album charts.Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played “I Won’t Back Down” at the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert for victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The following year, they played “Taxman”, “I Need You”, and “Handle With Care” (joined by Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner) at the Concert for George in honor of Petty’s friend and former bandmate George Harrison.
.In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On December 6, 2005, Petty received the Billboard Century Award for his lifetime achievements. On September 21, 2006, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received the keys to the city ofGainesville, Florida, where he and his bandmates either lived or grew up. the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio featured an exhibit of Tom Petty items. His 2002 albumThe Last DJ included several attacks on the music industry, criticizing it for greed, watering down music, and releasing pop music made by scantily-clad young women .In 2005, Petty began hosting his own show “Buried Treasure” on XM Radio, .In February 2006, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers agreed to be the headline act at the fifth annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Following that announcement came the itinerary for Tom & the Heartbreakers’ “30th Anniversary Tour”. Special guests included Stevie Nicks, Pearl Jam, the Allman Brothers, Trey Anastasio, The Derek Trucks Band, and the Black Crowes ). Stevie Nicks joined Tom and the Heartbreakers on stage for renditions of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” , “Insider,” and “I Need to Know” . Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam also joined Tom and the Heartbreakers on stage at some shows where Vedder sang on “The Waiting”and “American Girl”.In July 2006, Petty released a new solo album titled Highway Companion, which included the hit “Saving Grace” and was promoted on the “30th Anniversary Tour” with the Heartbreakers in 2006 with performances of “Saving Grace”, “Square One”, “Down South,” and “Flirting with Time”.
In 2007, Petty reunited with his old bandmates Tom Leadon, Randall Marsh, Benmont Tench & Mike Campbell to reform his pre-Heartbreakers band Mudcrutch. The band originally formed in 1967 in Gainesville, Florida before relocating to California where they released one single in 1974 before breaking up. The quintet recorded this self-titled new album of fourteen songs that was released on April 29, 2008 . The band supported the album with a brief tour of California in the spring of 2008.In 2007, artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz and Paul McCartney paid tribute to Fats Domino on the double-CD covers set Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino. The album’s sales helped buy instruments for students inNew Orleans public schools and they contributed to the building of a community center in the city’s Hurricane Katrina-damaged Ninth Ward. Tom and the Heartbreakers’ contributed a critically acclaimed cover of “I’m Walkin'” to the package.In January 2008, it was announced that the band would be embarking on a North American Tour with Steve Winwood , who joined Petty and the Heartbreakers on stage at select shows. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers performed during the halftime-show of Super Bowl XLII playing”American Girl”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'”, and “Runnin’ Down a Dream. the Heartbreakers released the Album, Mojo in 2010 followed by a North American Summer Tour . The band also appeared as musical guests on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. In 2012, the band announced a North American and European tour . In early 2013, Petty and the Heartbreakers announced that they would be playing at several North American festivals in the late Spring and Summer and an upcoming album to be released in 2014.
Tom Petty also appears in many films including the 1978 film FM and 1987’s Made in Heaven. He also appeared in several episodes of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show andwas also featured in Shandling’s other show, The Larry Sanders Show. He also appeared in the 1997 movie The Postman, with Kevin Costner. In 2002, he appeared on The Simpsons along with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards,Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer. Petty also had a recurring role in the animated comedy series King of the Hill. In 2008, Petty made a guest appearance as himself in Lil Bush, and in 2010, he made an appearance in a musical video titled “Great Day” featured on the bonus DVD as part of Lonely Island’s new album Turtleneck & Chain. Peter Bogdanovich has also made a documentary film on Petty’s career entitled Runnin’ Down A Dream.