Watch Coldplay, Peter Buck Honor Tom Petty With 'Free Fallin'' Cover

Rock superstar Tom Petty dies; sold 80 million records

Rock superstar Tom Petty dies; sold 80 million records

WASHINGTON-Iconic rock artist Tom Petty died Monday night at 66, according to his publicist. The music focused squarely on the songs themselves: Petty's singing is the center of our attention. Buck outlined the song's crystalline melody with ringing riffs, and drummer Will Champion propelled the track forward with a firm backbeat, inserting a swelling series of rat-a-tat beats before the final hook.

One of the most indelible music videos not just of Petty's career but of the MTV heyday of the mid-1980s, the clip's twisted take on "Alice in Wonderland" features Petty as the sunglasses-wearing Mad Hatter, the song's co-writer, Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, as the hookah-puffing caterpillar, and one of the creepiest sheet cakes in all music video lore. ("Burnt Out Town" had another glorious Petty couplet: "This is a burnt out town/ New emperor, same clothes.") It was his only album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200. Full Moon Fever went on to sell more than five million copies in the USA, according to the RIAA.

But as I write these words late Monday afternoon, as I try to process the reports I first heard a few hours ago, it's all I can do to keep from bawling my eyes out.

Since then, his talents as a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter have earned him status a legend of rock and roll.

Share this article: Tom Petty concert in 2010. But a childhood handshake with Elvis Presley in the "50s piqued his interest in rock 'n" roll, and at the age of 17, inspired by The Beatles and The Byrds, Petty dropped out of high school to play rock with his band Mudcrutch. The band released two more albums in quick succession: 1978's You're Gonna Get It! which went gold, and 1979's Damn The Torpedoes, which included the group's first Top 10 single, "Don't Do Me Like That", and "Refugee".

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"I knew that because the episode took place at camp, that he would be dressed accordingly, so the things I struggled with the most were: Does he or doesn't he have a beard and ... glasses?" "And to me he's up there with the Buddy Hollys and the Hank Williamses of the world", Zanes said. Music seems like such a hard thing to write about, and I greatly admire those who do it well. The song went on to become one of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' first big hits.

"Thank you, Tom Petty, for all of the light you brought to the world", Ed Helms said. (It was recorded more or less live in the studio, too; the booklet tells you the day each song was tracked and exactly which instruments each band member played.) I saw them at Madison Square Garden on that tour. Not Tom Petty please. I've listened to nearly every album, and like Motörhead, ZZ Top, or AC/DC, each one has at least four or five songs that are flat-out great, and a bunch of others that are just better than most everything else out there.

"All right. Now I'm gettin' excited", he said.

One of Petty's favorite cannabis-related pastimes was to learn about history.

At first, some of the audience members looked a little skeptical - this was, after all, a far cry from the kind of music that Petty was about to play - but soon the group had the crowd participating a Nat King Cole cover, "hand-clappin' tunes" such as "If I Had a Hammer", and the awesome multi-octave harmonies of "Deep River".

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