Tom Petty, along with his band the Heartbreakers, played heartland rock like few others during an era when guys like Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen made busted cars, crunchy guitars and lost dreams cool. Inspired as much by the Byrds’ jingle jangle as he was three-chord, garage-rock stomp, Petty wrote music that was more jagged than most of his heartland-rock peers’. He finally found some footing on his classic third album, 1979’s ‘Damn the Torpedoes,’ a masterwork of pop songcraft and sneering rock. With longtime guitarist and collaborator Mike Campbell, Petty has made a series of albums since then that explore everything from psychedelia and hippie idealism to crumbling relationships and late-period priorities. He even formed the Traveling Wilburys supergroup with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison to pay tribute to rock’s past. His best records are that timeless.
- Birthday: Oct. 20, 1950
- Selected Discography: ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ (1979), ‘Hard Promises’ (1981), ‘Full Moon Fever’ (1989)
- Related Artists: Mike Campbell, Traveling Wilburys
- Further Reading: Top 10 Tom Petty Songs, Top 10 Tom Petty Rebel Songs, Top 5 Super Bowl Halftime Performances