Personalities | Tom Petty | Eighties | Rock

(Singer-songwriter, b. 1950)

Petty, born in Gainsville, Florida, formed his long-time backing band The Heartbreakers from Mike Campbell (guitar), Benmont Tench (keyboards), Ron Blair (bass) and Stan Lynch (drums). An eponymous album in 1977 was a hard-hitting brand of country rock, with plenty of modern attack, rootsy authenticity and good tunes. The UK was impressed, but it was not until 1979’s Damn The Torpedoes that the US took a native son (and another ‘new Dylan’) to its breast. Alongside Springsteen, Petty helped revitalize the reputation of intelligent blue-collar rock, while tapping into its folkier heritage. They scored a couple of big US singles in ‘Refugee’ (1979) and ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ (1980). In 1988, Petty wound up the band, working with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and George Harrison in The Traveling Wilburys. An excellent solo album, Full Moon Fever, resulted in 1989, before The Heartbreakers reformed: still one of America’s most consistent bands behind a consistently good songwriter.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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