Tom Petty biography
Born in Florida in 1950, Tom Petty is a singer, songwriter and musician best known as the frontman of the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. After performing with several local bands in his teens, he left high school to tour with the rock band Mudcrutch. Although the band never made it big, members Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Petty later joined up to form the Heartbreakers. In 1989 he pursued a solo career, releasing his first album Full Moon Fever. The album contained some of his most famous hits including "Free Fallin'," "Runnin' Down a Dream" and "I Won't Back Down." His next album, Wildflowers (1994), earned critical acclaim. In 2001, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Thomas Earl Petty was born on October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida. One of the most enduring performers in rock 'n' roll, Petty began playing with local bands while in his teens. He left high school to tour with his country-influenced rock band Mudcrutch.
While Mudcrutch never made it big, it did contain some of the future members of the Heartbreakers, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Petty joined with Campbell, Tench, Ron Blair and Stan Lynch in 1975 to form Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The following year, the band released their first self-titled album, which featured two popular tracks: "American Girl" and "Breakdown."
After resolving some legal and financial problems in the 1970s, Tom Petty continued on his path to musical stardom. The band's third album, Damn the Torpedoes (1979), went platinum due in part on the success of such singles as "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Refugee." Petty also sang a duet with Stevie Nicks, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," for her album Bella Donna (1981), with the Heartbreakers lending their musical talents to the track.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers found more success with their next two albums Hard Promises (1981) and Long After Dark (1982), which featured such hits as "A Woman in Love" and "You Got Lucky." The next album didn't come together as easily. Southern Accents (1985) took three years to make, during which time Petty punched a wall and broke his hand, allegedly out of frustration. Petty and the Heartbreakers later toured with Bob Dylan, serving as his band.
The late 1980s brought many changes for Tom Petty. He faced a personal setback in 1987 when his San Fernando Valley, California, home burned down, destroying most of what he owned. The following year, he joined forces with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne to form the Traveling Wilburys. This group of musical superstars released their first self-titled album that year to warm reviews and strong sales.
Working with Lynne, Petty took a break from the Heartbreakers and put out his first solo album Full Moon Fever in 1989. The album sold more than 3 million copies and scored hits with "Free Fallin'," "Runnin' Down a Dream" and "I Won't Back Down." The following year, Petty reunited with Lynne, Dylan and Harrison to release the oddly titled Traveling Wilburys, Vol.
3, the band's second album. (Orbison died of a heart attack in 1988.) The group won the Grammy Award for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals—a career first for Petty.
Reunited with the Heartbreakers, Petty and the band achieved commercial and critical success with Into The Great Wide Open (1991). Petty continued to divide his time between recording with the band and his solo efforts, producing several more albums. His next solo album, 1994's Wildflowers, was considered one of his strongest recordings by critics. It has a laid-back, melancholy feel to it with the title track and "It's Good to Be King." Petty won the 1995 Grammy Award for best male rock vocal performance for "You Don't Know How It Feels."
In 2001, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were recognized for their contributions to music with their induction into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. The following year, the group released The Last DJ (2002), which criticized the music industry. Critics were divided on this album, with some calling it "gutsy" and others saying that it sounded grouchy.
In 2006, Petty released the solo album Highway Companion to mostly positive reviews, with "Saving Grace" making an appearance on both the rock and pop charts. That same year, Petty played several concert dates with the Heartbreakers in celebration of their 30-year anniversary as a group. It was also in 2006 that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers headlined the fifth annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
In 2008, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed during the Super Bowl halftime show. Two years later, in 2010, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers announced that they would be releasing a new album—their first studio project in eight years—entitled Mojo, along with a summer tour. In 2013, Petty and his bandmates returned to perform at Bonnaroo once again.
Petty has two daughters with his first wife, Jane Benyo. He married second wife Dana York in 2001.