by Graham Pierrepoint
In a year where we have – once again – lost so many big names across entertainment and beyond, it is sadly the turn of the music world to mourn again, as legendary singer and guitarist Tom petty has sadly passed away at the age of 66 years old. The star had reportedly passed away following cardiac arrest on Monday 2nd October, where he had been taken to hospital but not revived.
Petty was known for a legion of radio hits that have been part of the US musical landscape since the 1970s – and in that time, he had continued to pack out venues whether on tour alone or with his band, the Heartbreakers. His most popular hits, the ones which will likely resonate most with regular radio listeners, include ‘Free Fallin’’ and ‘I Won’t Back Down’ – though he was also famously part of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys from the late 1980s, which also comprised of Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison. Dylan was one of many huge artists who were first to pay tribute to Petty, referring to the guitarist as “a great performer” and a friend he will never forget.
Petty and The Heartbreakers continued performing and recording over the past few years, with their album ‘Hypnotic Eye’ – their 13thtotal – scaling the charts three years ago. Petty and the band had only recently finished a tour to celebrate their 40th anniversary, with a final performance in LA on September 22nd. Less than two weeks later, fans would be saying goodbye to Petty for the last time – still creating and performing till the end.
Petty’s loss has brought forward tributes from all over the world of music, and from some of the most diverse of places. From leading words on behalf of Dylan to the likes of Brian May, Carole King, Josh Groban, Travis Barker, Bryan Adams and Taylor Momsen paying tribute, it seems his genius crossed all boundaries and genres – more than just your average hit-maker, sources such as NME have paid ultimate tribute to the star by heralding his greatest-ever songs. It’s likely radio stations across the world will be playing his songs for years to come – and not just in remembrance of his talent.
Petty never lied – he didn’t back down – and to his last, he was cramming stadiums with long-life fans of songs he first played forty years ago. He will be immensely missed.