You don’t get much more American than Tom Petty. Coming to fame at a time when punk rock was starting to obliterate the system and classic rock was on the outs, he made pure rock ‘n’ roll about small towns, girls, and the open road. Petty always seemed to exist in his own window of time, untethered to one era or the next, but yesterday, mortality finally caught up to him. He suffered a cardiac arrest in his Malibu home and passed away a few hours later, just a few weeks shy of 67.
Growing up in Gainesville, Florida, Petty brought an everyman charm to his music with The Heartbreakers, with whom he released his debut album in 1976. Singles like “Breakdown” and “American Girl” quickly became radio staples, and by the time Petty released his third album, Damn The Torpedoes, in 1979, he had cemented himself as heartland rock fixture alongside Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger. Along with those two, he captured something uniquely American that people clearly craved in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, perhaps disillusioned by all