Gettin’ Petty

Tom Earl Petty

Born Oct. 20th, 1950

An American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He was the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, formed in 1976. He was also a co-founder of the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.

TomPetty First gigPetty was born and raised in Gainesville, but before he became one of America’s most iconic rock musicians he met Elvis Presley at the courthouse in Inverness. “I didn’t know a lot about Elvis Presley. He was known to me as a fellow who wiggled,” Petty remembers. Petty’s uncle Earl Jernigan worked on film crews in Florida and invited Petty to see the King on the set of Presley’s ninth film “Follow That Dream”.

TomPetty11Presley greeted Petty’s uncle and his nieces and nephews, including Petty. Witnessing Elvis firsthand, Petty decided the rock star had a good thing going on.“ I traded my Wham-O slingshot to this kid for a box of 45s, and in this box were so many Elvis records, and they were all the greatest ones. ”He was hooked on Elvis, hooked on rock and roll. “And that’s what kicked off my love of music. That was the dream I followed, strangely enough.”

TomPetty6The first line up of “Heartbreakers” were Petty and Mike Campbell with Benmont Tench, Ron Blair and Stan Lynch, forming the first lineup of the Heartbreakers.

BreakdownTheir eponymous debut album gained minute popularity amongst American audiences, achieving greater success in Britain.

F.M.The single “Breakdown”, which was used in the film “F.M.”, was re-released in 1977, and peaked at No. 40 in early 1978.

TomPetty3Their second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, was the band’s first Top 40 album, featuring the singles “I Need to Know” and, my personal favorite song, “Listen to Her Heart”.

DamnTheTorpeadosTheir third album, Damn the Torpedoes quickly went platinum, selling nearly two million copies;

TomPetty2It includes their breakthrough singles “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Here Comes My Girl” and “Refugee”.

TheWaitingThe 4th album Hard Promises, released in 1981, became a top-ten hit, going platinum and spawning the hit single “The Waiting”.

HardPromisesIn early 1981, the upcoming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album, which would become Hard Promises, was slated to be the next MCA release with the new list price of $9.98, following Steely Dan’s Gaucho and the Olivia Newton-John/Electric Light Orchestra Xanadu soundtrack. This so-called “superstar pricing” was $1.00 more than the usual list price of $8.98. Petty voiced his objections to the price hike in the press and the issue became a popular cause among music fans. Non-delivery of the album and naming it “$8.98 L.P.” were considered, but eventually MCA decided against the price increase.

TomStevie1The album also featured Petty’s first duet, “Insider” with Stevie Nicks. Many collaborations and cross pollinations of their music followed. Petty married Jane Benyo in 1974, and they divorced in 1996.Benyo once told Stevie Nicks that she had met Petty at “the age of seventeen”. Nicks misheard Benyo’s North Florida accent, inspiring the title of her song “Edge of Seventeen”.

wilbury01In 1988, Petty joined George Harrison’s group, the Traveling Wilburys, which also included Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. The band’s first song, “Handle with Care”, was intended as a B-side of one of Harrison’s “This Is Love” single, but was judged too good for that purpose.

wilbury02The group decided to record a full album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. A second Wilburys album, mischievously titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 and recorded without the recently deceased Orbison, followed in 1990. The album was named Vol. 3 as a response to a series of bootlegged studio sessions being sold as Travelling Wilburys Vol. 2. Petty incorporated Traveling Wilburys songs into his live shows, consistently playing “Handle with Care” in shows from 2003 to 2006, and for his 2008 tour adding “surprises” such as “End of the Line” to the set list.

FullMoonFeverMany hit singles and L.P.s would follow such as “Full Moon Fever”,


RunninDownADream“Runnin Down A Dream”, “Wild Flowers”, “You Wreck Me”, and the list goes on.

JohhnyCashCarlPerkinsTomPettyTom worked with TONZ of folks like Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins. I would DIE to have the chance to do THAT!

TomPettyHeartbreakersTom Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, for their contribution to the recording industry.

PettyR&RHall1In December 2001, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York.


From July 2006 until 2007 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, featured an exhibit of Tom Petty items; much of the content was donated by Petty during a visit to his home by some of the Hall’s curatorial staff.

TomPetty13He didn’t do bad for a young man from Florida and as I always say around this time of year “LIBRA ROCKZ!”.