Published: Wed, October 04, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Hattie Nash

Musicians mourn 'hero' Tom Petty: 'This is unbearable'

Musicians mourn 'hero' Tom Petty: 'This is unbearable'

At 4 p.m. ET, CBS News, citing Los Angeles Police, tweeted that Petty had died and included a link to an obituary. By age 14, he had formed his first band and by 1975 Petty had teamed up with the Heartbreakers. I was a subscriber in the late-1970s and early-'80s to Stereo Review, with a record review section that was second to none. Roger McGuinn recalled thinking when he first heard it.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Tom Petty spoke of the Heartbreakers 40th tour and said he felt that it would be the last one for the band. His sturdy compositions built a discography so strong he couldn't get to all of his hits. The chorus goes, "through ecstasy, crystal meth and glue / found no drug compares to you / with all these pills / and all this weed / I don't know just what I need". And so on. All are fist-pumping favorites.

"I wish there was some pocket of rock "n" roll still going strong, but there isn't".

While new wave and synth-pop took hold in the 1980s, Petty stuck to his no-frills heartland rock style while still appealing to a young fan base. 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". "It's a blessing beyond belief". It was "Mary Jane's Last Dance", the bonus track on the 1993 greatest-hits album, that brought me back to Petty.

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Tweeted the E Street Band's Steven Van Zandt: "Man this can not be happening".

And it's not like his music "saved my life" (as you often read in overly dramatic tributes to dead artists), or even, for that matter, changed my life.

In the 1985 video for "Don't Come Around Here No More", Petty plays the Mad Hatter in a trippy Alice in Wonderful retelling.

The 1994 release on his solo album Wildflowers speaks to the longevity of his career.

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He sings about "a good girl, insane 'bout Elvis, loves horses and her boyfriend, too". He had his own problems.

"Free Fallin'" peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's hot 100 hits in 1990 and has remained one of Petty's best-known songs. Just rock, and we don't put no other name on it than that. After that band broke up, Petty and several of its members formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which catapulted him to the forefront of rock music for the next 40 years. It does. It makes a lot of people happy. "I think faith is very important just to get through life".

Like everyone's, Petty's path wasn't always smooth.

In the biography, Petty spoke candidly to Zanes about the abuse he suffered as a child and his struggles with heroin addiction.

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Eric Clapton, rock royalty to millions of fans, expressed sadness, telling the Associated Press: "I'm shocked and saddened by the news of Tom's passing, he's such a huge part of our musical history, there'll never be another like him". TMU has reached out to Petty's representatives to confirm this, but have not received comment as of press time.

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