Death of Music Icon: Tom Petty


Paul R. Guinta

Tom petty performing.

Stephen Serrano, Section Editor

When people think about 80’s and 90’s music, they often think about “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty. Unfortunately, on October 2, rock singer and musician Tom Petty, passed away. Tom Petty was the lead singer in the group Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and has inspired so many aspiring musicians and artists to this day.

Idolizing Elvis Presley and the Beatles at age 10, Petty’s love for music was predominantly influenced by them ( Motivated by his idols, the late singer learned how to play guitar. Petty, at 17 dropped out of high school because he wanted to focus on his singing career with a new band, Mudcrutch. Marrying his high school sweetheart, Petty and Jane Benyo had two children, Kimberly and Adria. The band would soon move to Los Angeles, after being signed with Shelter Records. In the end, Mudcrutch disbanded, for they did not get along and produce a major hit (Rolling Stone).

Petty, after splitting up Mudcrutch, wanted to start up a new band. Called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Petty recruited his former Mudcrutch bandmates to join him. Guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench with newcomers Ron Blair who played bass, and Stan Lynch who played on drums, made up “the Heartbreakers” in the band ( Being signed with Shelter Records once more, the pop-rock group worked hard to make sure that they were not another flop.

Even though the start was rough for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, they finally released their first debut single, “Breakdown” which peaked at the top 40 on the charts. It was not until their second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, that got them to be a household name. With hits like “American Girl” and “The Waiting”, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers go on to play in concert all over the nation.

Petty believed that it was time for him to split from the group to focus on his long-awaited solo career. As a solo artist, he became known for singing “Free Fallin’” and “I Won’t Back Down” which were top sellers. Petty would then go on to tour for the next 20 years after the split in 1989.

Years after his glory days, Petty passed away at UCLA Medical Center due to cardiac arrest. Many fans flooded social media with their condolences and respect. Although his music career was great, Petty did face struggles when joining the music business. Petty is proof that hard work will help achieve dreams.

Shaken by his death, Maddie Cusick (10) remembers that “he was one of the artists that [her] parents play in the car and his music is pretty cool.” Tom Petty continues to inspire musicians and will be missed by millions.