The Life And Musical Times Of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
By Vin DeWolfe
In the middle of 70's, Petty was just spreading his wings. He started with a group called the Sundowners and another named The Epics & Mudcrutch. It wasn't intil '76 that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was formed. That very same year, their first release debuted. Unfortunately, the album wasn't popular in the U.S. Later on, in 1977, the single "Breakdown" was re-published and it made it up to number 40 in themusic charts.
Tom Petty - Refugee
The second & third releases did alot better. The 2nd was named "Your Gonna Get It!" It was the bands 1st top 40 album, boasting "I Need To Know" and "Listen To Her Heart". Their 3rd album, "Damn The Torpedos", had the singles "Don't Do Me Like That" & "Refugee". The album skyrocketed to platinum, selling almost two million copies. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers had made it to the top of the '70's rock & roll charts in style.
It was not until the middle of the 80's that the next album "Southern Accents" was released. At the time, the music video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" was criticized by womens groups. The video depicted Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter from poor Alice In Wonderland. He and his strange friends tease and chase pitiful Alice, then they feast on her like a birthday cake. Devotees thought it was awesome though and it is a classic music video to this day!
Tom took a bit of time for a solo effort and cooperative projects. In 1988, he founded the Travelling Willburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison & Jeff Lynne. The groups 1st song,"Handle With Care", was designated as a B-side for one of Harrisons single releases, but it was just too good. This led off to them recording an album they named The Travelling Willburys Vol. 1. After Orbisons death, a second release titled, The Travelling willburys Vol. 3 was released. Since Harrison's demise, Petty has been incorporating the groups songs into his live shows, perhaps as a tribute to Orbison and Harrison.
The release, "Full Moon Fever" was released in 1989. It gave rise to 3 hit songs that still get air-play today; "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin" & "Runnin' Down A Dream". Although this album was believed a solo endeavor, Petty got a hand from several of the Heartbreakers and other artists.
The nineties brought 3 new albums from Petty. The first, called "Into the Great Wide Open" was published in 1991. The lead track and "Learning To Fly" were both big hits. Then, in 1994, "Wildflowers" was put out. It included the wildly popular "You Don't Know How It Feels" and the album continued on to sell over 3 million copies in the U.s.
In '96, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers collaborated once again. This time, they produced the soundtrack for the movie "She's The One" starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. There were three singles released from the album also a cover of a Jeff Beck song. Later on that same year, Petty and the band also teamed up with the great Johnny Cash on his "Unchained" album.
In '99, they released another recording named "Echo". This album moved up to number 10 in the U.S. music charts and two tunes were issued as singles in the United States, "Room at the Top" & "Free Girl Now".
"The Last DJ", published in '02 criticized the recording industry. Petty spoke about the industries developing greed, diluted music, and abuse of releasing pop music made by scantily-clad young ladies. The album talked to the audience though and ultimately reached number 9 on the United States charts.
Petty is still out there performing live and recording. He's a household name in the rock & roll world. Rock & roll fans have loved this legendary performer for decades. After over thirty years in the industry, creating music and touring, this seasoned veteran is one of the very best rock stars today.
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