Music Spotlight - Tom Petty: The Life & Times Of An American Rock Icon, Stories Behind Hit Songs, Private Moments, American Girl, I Won't Back Down, Mary Jane’s Last Dance
A music icon, a video star, a tireless fighter for the little guy—the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer played all those roles with aplomb, all while writing some of the most enduring hits of the 20th century. He was the embodiment of the American Dream, in rock star form.
A blue-collar renegade from Gainesville, Florida, Tom wanted nothing else but to follow in the footsteps of his heroes, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Somehow, improba- bly, he did just that, distinguishing himself as a truly remarkable songwriter with hits like “American Girl,” “Refugee” and “I Won’t Back Down,” anthems that put him among the pantheon of rock storytellers and endeared him to millions of fans around the world.
No matter how high his star rose, Tom never lost touch with his roots. He fought passionately for artist royalties and fans alike, waging war with record companies on multiple occasions to keep prices down and to improve pay for his peers. Having survived arson, drug addiction and a painful divorce, he could always find refuge in play- ing rock ’n’ roll, and did so for captivated audiences till the very end. “It’s the only true magic I know,” Tom once said of his live shows. “It’s not pulling a rabbit out of a hat; it’s real. It’s your soul floating out to theirs.”
Among the first musicians to grasp the importance of music videos, Tom and his band, the Heartbreakers, became household names with buzzworthy videos for songs like “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Into the Great Wide Open,” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” which boasted cameos by superstars from Johnny Depp to Kim
Since Tom’s untimely passing on Oct. 2, 2017, at the age of 66, the world has continued to revere his legendary body of work, to the tune of more than 80 million albums sold worldwide. Now we pay tribute to the late rocker with this special, career-spanning retrospective, a fitting celebration for a dearly beloved underdog.