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Tom Petty: A Remembrance

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

No-one expected Tom Petty to be next. Petty was in the prime of his career. He had just finished up a North America to mark the 40th anniversary of The Heartbreakers after being awarded MusiCares Person of the Year award in February.

No-one expected Tom Petty to die in 2017. There was way too much unfinished business. For starters, that Australian tour we had been waiting for since 1987 is now never going to happen.

Tom Petty died at his home in California from a heart attack. From all reports, he literally collapsed at his home and could not be revived. He was rushed to Santa Monica Hospital on Sunday October 1 and declared dead on Monday October 2.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were one of rock’s biggest live acts but it could have ended how it started. The first album in 1976 only reached no 55 in the USA despite featuring his classic ‘Breakdown’ and show stopper ‘American Girl’.

Petty broke big with his third album Damn The Torpedoes in 1979. It peaked at no 2 in the USA but it was New Zealand that gave him his first ever number one anywhere in the world with that album.

Petty never looked back after Damn The Torpedos. Every album for the next 18 years reached Top 10 in the USA. His most recent album, Hypnotic Eye, in 2014 became his first US no 1.

Tom Petty was an old soul. He gravitated towards similar artists from an earlier era. In 1989 he was the youngest member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. Lynne and Dylan are now the only surviving members of that group. Roy would have been 81 this year, George Harrison would have been 74, Bob Dylan is 76 and Jeff Lynne 69. Tom Petty was 66 years old.

Heart attacks are not the exclusive domain of “old people”. Men aged 40 plus are at high risk for heart attack and should be checked annually. With a heart attack, you either live or you die. If you live, they can fix it. However, like Tom, it can be instantly fatal.

Cardiac arrest comes from blocked arteries. There are no symptoms for blocked arteries until it is almost too late. If you are not checked out regularly you won’t even know you are at risk until it is too late.

Tom Petty wasn’t so lucky. Now the world has lost a musical genius. Following on from Glenn Frey, Prince, George Michael, Walter Becker, Lemmy, Stevie Wright, Jon English and Chuck Berry in recent times, the legends of rock and roll are diminishing and these people are not being replaced.

Tom Petty’s last show was September 22 in Los Angeles. Here is his last ever setlist:

Main Set
  • Rockin’ Around (With You) (from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 1976)
  • Mary Jane’s Last Dance (from Greatest Hits, 1993)
  • You Don’t Know How It Feels (from Wildflowers, 1994)
  • Forgotten Man (from Hypnotic Eye, 2014)
  • I Won’t Back Down (from Full Moon Fever, 1989)
  • Free Fallin’ (from Full Moon Fever, 1989)
  • Breakdown (from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 1976)
  • Don’t Come Around Here No More (from Southern Accents, 1985)
  • It’s Good to Be King (from Wildflowers, 1994)
  • Crawling Back to You (from Wildflowers, 1994)
  • Wildflowers (from Wildflowers, 1994)
  • Learning to Fly (from Into The Great Wide Open, 1991)
  • Yer So Bad (from Full Moon Fever, 1989)
  • I Should Have Known It (from Mojo, 2010)
  • Refugee (from Damn The Torpedos, 1979)
  • Runnin’ Down a Dream (from Full Moon Fever, 1989)
  • You Wreck Me (from Wildflowers, 1994)
  • American Girl (from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 1976)