Four years ago this weekend Tom Petty played his final concert.
The word “legend” gets tossed around a lot, but no one can argue that when Tom Petty passed away at the age of 66, the world did lose an actual legend. For all his success, through all the fame, and for all his popularity, one thing everyone who knew him seemed to agree on was that he was precisely the persona he projected on stage. That’s reflected in what he once told Esquire, “Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.”
Where did it all start for Tom? Well, when he was 11, he had a brief meeting with Elvis Presley at an Ocala movie shoot, and that was it. He later told Billboard, “It wasn’t like meeting Jesus, but it was close.” He went home, asked his mother to buy him a guitar from Sears, started spending his free time in a local music shop, and became determined to play the same rock ‘n’ roll Elvis did. By 14, he had formed his first band, the Sundowners, and never looked back.
On 25th September 2017, after a 40 year career, Tom Petty and his reformed Heartbreakers appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California at the end of a hugely successful reunion tour. The concert, which would ultimately be the Heartbreakers’ final show, ended with a performance of American Girl.
Tom Petty died of an accidental drug overdose a week later on October 2nd, 2017. We celebrate his life and music on our dedicated radio station.