Today we mourn the loss of one of America's great songwriters - the legendary Tom Petty. He left us far too soon.
Petty is most famous for working with his band The Heartbreakers, releasing the majority of his creative output with the band.
It was evident from the very beginning that Tom Petty was a unique American talent, his debut album spawning the hit "Breakdown" and the all-time classic "American Girl" in 1976. It was on his third album "Damn The Torpedoes" that Petty really hit his stride, achieving international fame with hits like "Refugee" and "Don't Do Me Like That". Petty also stepped out on his own without The Heartbreakers on the critically and commercially acclaimed "Full Moon Fever" featuring one of his most popular songs "Free Falling".
Respected by artists of all genres and eras, Petty has provided a shining example of melodic rock, artistic integrity and general decency, inspiring bands from Pearl Jam to The Strokes (the latter openly admitting their hit "Last Nite" was directly taken from Petty's "American Girl".) Petty was also a founding member of The Travelling Wilbury's, a supergroup composed of some of music's biggest names; George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison.
By all accounts Petty was a staunch defender of artists' rights and artistic control, and there is one story that sums up his decency on this subject. Prior to the release of his fourth album "Hard Promises" his record company had planned to raise the price of the album by one dollar to match up with his peers on the grounds of his superstar status. Petty's reply to this was that he didn't need or want the extra dollar and entered into a bitter dispute with his label. The result - Tom Petty's albums were one dollar cheaper than most of his peers. This was a man in music for the music, not the money, and right up to his final album Hypnotic Eye that fact is audibly apparent. Tom Petty, we salute you and will never forget you.