Tom Petty Fought the Good Fight for Music--and for Musicians

Commentary: Yesterday sucked and today hurts

But, as Petty told USA TODAY in a prescient moment of self-reflection, his music would endure after his death.

Musician Tom Petty died at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital last night, October 3, after suffering cardiac arrest.

For those of us old enough to remember when Petty and his backing band The Heartbreakers burst on the national scene back in the late 1970s with "Damn the Torpedoes", it seemed as if he appeared from nowhere and became a major headliner.

The Heartbreakers' first, self-titled album initially gained little recognition other than the single "Breakdown", but it was their second album, You're Gonna Get it! that propelled them into stardom with singles like "Listen To Her Heart" and "Baby's a Rock "n" Roller". He was a writer and craftsman who added scores of songs to rock's lexicon. Some of those are Free fallin', I Won't Back Down or American Girl. The news dealt a blow across the world, and if you were listening to radio in the immediate aftermath of his demise, you surely heard a Petty song or two played in tribute. I think it's really important that you believe in yourself, first of all. "I always felt sympathetic with her".

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Petty's premature departure feels nearly cosmically cruel, considering the 66-year-old had just wrapped a mammoth 40th anniversary tour with the Heartbreakers, which took him on the road from April through August, with more dates planned next month.

Petty could also write an anthem, as was the case with "I Won't Back Down", a song that had a second life in the wake of the September 11 attacks. But as I argue over at the Register, we need to pay attention to what Swift is saying. Why? "You'd go over and talk and he'd say, 'I've got a drum set.' 'You do?" He also formed the band The Travelling Wilburys with fellow artists George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. And I wonder when you're recording a new album if you ever do that, if you take a demo or take a rough recording and take it out for a drive, see how it sounds on the highway outside the studio.

So, as soon has the band's 2017 tour dates were announced, I "obtained" tickets to their July 1 show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"We're all on the backside of our sixties", he said.

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