Oct 3, 2017


In the mid to late 70's, I was a teenager who hung out with a group that somewhat resembled the characters from 'That 70's Show'. We partied (a lot), got into plenty of mischief and listened to rock music. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were among our favourites.

It was shocking and sad to hear that Tom Petty passed away on Oct. 2nd at the age of 66.

I will forever remember the date of his death because it's also my birthday, which this year was filled with much personal pain, worldwide shock after the horrific mass shooting in Vegas and sorrow over Petty's passing.

I remember playing Tom Petty's hit 'Refugee' constantly when I was younger, I must have worn out many record player needles listening to that song. It was his first big hit, the one that got our attention and catapulted Petty to rock superstar status.

When music videos were becoming popular in the 80's, Petty was one of the first to offer us a video that had a storyline and special visual effects. It was 'Don't Come Around Here No More', released in 1985.  The video was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and was filled with imagery unlike anything we had seen before in a music video. [That video appears below.]

In 1994, Petty again made headlines with his song 'You Don't Know How It Feels'. The chorus included the line "let's roll another joint", which was taboo to sing about at the time (music lyrics could allude to getting high, but coming right out and saying it was a no-no.) Some markets refused to play the song, while others played an edited version in which the rolling a joint reference was scrambled into incoherent nonsense. As the years passed and views changed, the original lyrics were allowed to air on most radio stations.

In addition to singing with his group The Heartbreakers, in 1988 Tom Petty collaborated with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison to form The Traveling Wilbury's, whose most notable hit was 'End of the Line'

Rest in peace Tom Petty. You were a unique artist who refused to compromise your values and words. Words we will forever enjoy when listening to the many amazing songs you left us with.

Read 'Rolling Stone's' tribute to Tom Petty here.