Tom Petty has died of Cardiac Arrest. He was only 66, finishing the last leg of his 40th Anniversary Tour with The Heartbreakers. Born in Gainesville, Fla., and played in the local bands The Epics and Mudcrutch, until he formed his own band, the Heartbreakers. He even teamed up with power pop legend Dwight Twilley. Twilley and Phil Seymour also sang on Petty’s first album on “Strangered In The Night” and Phil’s the main backing singer on Petty’s first breakout hit “Breakdown” and on “American Girl”; and as Petty notes in the liners to his boxed set, it was Twilley who suggested that the guitar riff at the end of “Breakdown” be moved to the beginning, as that was clearly the hook. ”
He scored big radio hits with his third album, 1979’s Damn the Torpedos, when “Refugee” entered the Top 20 in early 1980. He scored another Top 20 hit with “The Waiting,” from 1981’s Hard Promises, and another with “You Got Lucky,” from 1982’s Long After Dark. Eventually, he joined The Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup that also comprised Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. We only have two Wilburys left. Then Petty ditched the Heartbreakers, but got Jeff Lynne to jump-start his solo LP, 1989’s Full Moon Fever. Then came 1994’s Wildflowers and 2004’s Highway Companion, and hits like “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’.”
Petty wrote “Even the losers get lucky sometimes,” but Petty was no loser, nor was he very lucky. It was a natural talent, hard work and stubborn persistence that made him a legend.