Friday, March 12, 2010

#27 Free Falling with Tom Petty

Tom Petty has known he that he wanted to be a musician since the age of ten when his uncle introduced him to Elvis. He might be a bit younger then the other greats and he might have missed the sixties, but throughout the last thirty years, Tom has been proving that he can rock the world with the best of them. After receiving only minor success with his first band Mudcrutch in the early 70's, Tom was reluctant to set out on his solo career after the group's demise. It wasn't until some of his former band mates helped him form The Heartbreakers in 1976 that he really took off . I have always thought he was extremely talented both lyrically and instrumentally. Throughout his career, he has played lead and rhythm guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica and even the drums. His career outside of his work with the Heartbreakers has been a whirlwind of success both as a solo artist and then in the late 80's as a member of the fabled super group The Traveling Willburys. That is quite the resume for the last fourty years of rock that Tom Petty has been a part of.

One of the things I love about his music is it's consistency. You know what your getting into when you throw on a Tom Petty album. He has a knack for creating straight forward, unpretentious nostalgia rock. This unique yet nostalgic form of rock helped catapult him to fame in the late 70's when traditional rock fans had begun feeling alienated by all the punk and new wave that was cropping up. To these fans, Tom sort of became their standard bearer, keeping the rock they believed in alive. He channels that type of rock that hearkened back to the stones, the Beatles and the Searchers. It is easy to see why he makes the music that he does when you look at his influences. Aside from meeting Elvis, Tom says that his greatest musical influence was when he was a kid and he watched the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show. Also, one of his first guitar tutors was Don Felder (who would later become a member of the Eagles). I think this love of the classics helps keep Tom modest and humble. He is seemingly the everyman of rock and as a result he is much loved by fans, critics and peers alike.

Petty has long been a opponent of the over bearing record companies and has often clashed in legal battles with them when they have attempted to go behind his back. Shortly before Tom release the album'Hard Promises' he was informed that MCA was going to be increasing the cost of their artists cd's in what they called their 'Superstar Pricing'. Tom threatened to cancel the album's release and was going to change the album's name to '8.98' (the original price of his and other artists releases through MCA). Eventually MCA saw that he was not going to back down and they changed the pricing back for Petty's work. This was thought to be the inspiration for future song 'Won't Back Down' which he released on the 'Full Moon Fever' album. Strangely enough, that song was then later used by George W. Bush in his 2000 presidential campaign until Tom Petty heard about it and immediately launched a cease and desist lawsuit against the presidential candidate.

I saw Tom Petty at the Pemberton Music Festival in 2008 and he blew me away. I have always been a fan but I had no idea that he was so good to see live. His band was rocking and he jumped right into 'You Wreck Me' which is one of my fave tracks of his. I would easily recomend seeing his show to anyone on the fence about it. He packs in the hits and puts on a show that is easily worth the ticket price. In fact, for all of you in BC, he is playing GM place on June 6th with Joe Cocker as the opening act. I think I am going to get tickets because that sounds like a show not to miss. For anyone in the States, or back in eastern Canada, check his show out because he will be touring your areas with Crosby Stills and Nash.

The Facts:
-Three solo albums, two with the Traveling Willburys, and ten with the Heartbreakers, with the 11th coming out next month.
-In 2002 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
-In 2002 he also appeared on the Simpsons in the fantastic episode where Homer goes to rock and roll fantasy camp.
-In 1987 Tom Petty's house was burned down by an arsonist, costing him over one million dollars in damage.

My Fave Album:
-I think it would have to be 1989's Full Moon Fever. This was Tom's first solo album and it is fantastic. If you look at the track listing for this album you can see that there really isn't a weak track on the entire record. In fact, the album is often referred to by many critics as a minor masterpiece. This album has Free Falling, I won't back down, runnin down a dream and Yer so bad to name just a few. If you haven't heard any of these you are probably living under a rock somewhere but if you really haven't and you seem to enjoy Tom Petty, then I highly suggest this album to start with.

Dig this clip. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers doing 'Don't Come Around Here No More'. I love this video, when you watch it you will know why. Enjoy! see you guys monday. Remember I will post a new playlist tomorrow!

here is a clip from the Pemberton Festival 2008 that I was at. It is a bit long and Tom doesnt come on stage until 2:52 but you can get a sense of the shows energy when he does hit the stage. (Oh and I was front row for this) Enjoy!

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