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“I did go through a lot of my life with a short fuse where I could erupt into a serious rage. … I think that was a product of my childhood, when I had some serious abuse,” he told Uncut about growing up with his father in Gainesville. “I started to learn and retrace what had happened to me and why I was that way. It became quite clear to me why. And once you know why something is happening, you know how to fix it.”
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Tom Petty started performing a young age, 17, with Mike Campbell & Benmong Tench in their first band, Mudcrutch. After that they formed Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. This band included Tom Petty himself as the lead singer and guitarist, Mike Campbell as a secondary guitarist, Benmont Tench on the keyboard, Ron Blair on bass, multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston, and Steve Ferrone on the drums. Stan Lynch was the original Heartbreakers’ drummer, performing with the band until 1994, prior to the release of Petty’s November 1994 solo album Wildflowers.
The most recent album by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It was released in July of 2014. Their 40th anniversary tour was scheduled for this year, with more than 60 stops on the tour. In December, Petty told Rolling Stone that this tour might be their last “big” outing.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thinking this might be the last big one. We’re all on the backside of our sixties,” Petty said. “I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”
Petty was also part of the Grammy-winning supergroup the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lynne. They released two albums, one after Orbison died in 1990, though they never toured together.
Petty also released three solo albums, Full Moon Fever (1989), Wildflowers (1994), and Highway Companion (2006). 1994’s Wildflowers included the singles “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “You Wreck Me”, “It’s Good to Be King”, and “A Higher Place”. The album, produced by Rick Rubin, sold over three million copies in the United States.
Petty’s also had a bit of an acting career, with first appearance in film in 1978. He also appeared in the 1997 film The Postman, directed by and starring Kevin Costner, as the Bridge City Mayor. In 2002, he appeared on The Simpsons in the episode “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”, along with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer. In it, Petty spoofed himself as a tutor to Homer Simpson on the art of lyric writing, composing a brief song about a drunk girl driving down the road while concerned with the state of public schools. Later in the episode, he loses a toe during a riot.