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  • Writer's pictureKeith Chagall

Tom Petty, In Memoriam October 20, 1950- October 2, 2017

One of the greatest singer songwriters of American Pop Music, Tom Petty died suddenly Monday October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles from cardiac arrest at the age of 66..

Along with his bandmates of 40 years, The Heartbreakers, Tom Petty filled our lives with beautifully crafted songs that got us through good and hard times.

His breakthrough album “Damn the Torpedoes”, was produced by the legendary Jimmy Iovine and through his tireless hard work ethic Petty achieved, platinum and Hall of Fame status.

His music still resonates much like Dylan, Springsteen, and his concerts always delivered.

A big fan of The Beatles, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Petty utilized the sparkling sound of the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar to create a hybrid jangly rock Americana sound that became very much his own, and gave you a sense of wellbeing and hopefulness

During the 1980s he was part of the super group “The Travelling Willburys” that included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and the legendary Roy Orbison and created two amazing albums including the hit song , “Handle With Care”.

He remained a lifelong friend with George Harrison and they would play ukuleles together when George visited Petty at his Malibu home.

He had just completed a 40th Anniversary Tour that concluded at the Hollywood Bowl last week.

My friend Paul Zollo took some amazing pictures that showed Petty in high spirits onstage. They are included here.

Petty was a true musicologists who in addition to his other duties as leader of the Heartbreakers, hosted his own Tom Petty Channel on Sirius/XM Radio. He would play songs from artist that most of us had not known but were amazed to learn about. Artists that helped forge his own styles and taste, which were impeccable.

Raised in Gainesville Florida, Petty travelled west and launched his career in LA with a string of brilliant albums. Full Moon Fever remains one of my favorites.

Songs like “Here Comes My Girl”, “Refugee” “Even The Losers” “She was an American Girl”, “Freefallin” “Run Down Dream”, “I Won’t Back Down” “ Don’t Do me Like That” and of course “Century City” remain part of the great American Songbook.

His was a quest for American individualism, of not backing down. A place where even if life was hard on you, you could find solace and purpose when you saw your loved one coming, “ Here Comes My Girl” and it gave you a legit reason to keep on trying.

He loved his fans and even went to battle MCA risking his career to force them to lower album prices. He truly walked the talk and his music will never be forgotten.

With all the pain heartache and grief that we are all feeling for the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas, I'd like to Imagine that all those beautiful souls that perished Sunday would be truly comforted seeing, hearing Tom Petty who is there with them now, playing beautiful music for them all as they travel unto Heaven, for there truly is music in the Heavenly realms...I'd like to imagine that Angels are harmonizing along...

Thank you Paul Zollo for capturing Petty so wonderfully at The Hollywood Bowl as Tom sang "I'm gonna leave this world for awhile"

Godspeed Tom petty and thank you for leaving us such a rich legacy of song!


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