10 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' eponymous 1976 album was one of the most assured and accomplished debuts of the decade. Its jangly-guitar blast of roots-charged rock not only helped slow the disco chart juggernaut and blow the pretense out of arena rock, it helped pave the way for the punk and new-wave revolution that quickly followed. The breakout single "American Girl" proudly displays not only Petty's nasally Dylan-does-the Byrds affectations, but his pop-savvy roots as well: That's former band mate Dwight Twilley (Petty had briefly played bass in Twilley's band) and fellow Tulsa pop savant Phil Seymour doing the harmonies. Petty's influences here also span Buddy Holly (the frantic "Rockin' Around," "Anything That's Rock & Roll") and the bluesy, Stones-scented hit "Breakdown," all delivered with such aggressive passion as to make their antecedents almost irrelevant.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' eponymous 1976 album was one of the most assured and accomplished debuts of the decade. Its jangly-guitar blast of roots-charged rock not only helped slow the disco chart juggernaut and blow the pretense out of arena rock, it helped pave the way for the punk and new-wave revolution that quickly followed. The breakout single "American Girl" proudly displays not only Petty's nasally Dylan-does-the Byrds affectations, but his pop-savvy roots as well: That's former band mate Dwight Twilley (Petty had briefly played bass in Twilley's band) and fellow Tulsa pop savant Phil Seymour doing the harmonies. Petty's influences here also span Buddy Holly (the frantic "Rockin' Around," "Anything That's Rock & Roll") and the bluesy, Stones-scented hit "Breakdown," all delivered with such aggressive passion as to make their antecedents almost irrelevant.

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About Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Since 1976, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers have been one of America's finest rock & roll bands ever, combining the ringing guitars of the Byrds with the gritty rhythmic drive of the Rolling Stones. Petty's tales of American losers and dreamers were simple and direct, but emotionally charged. The Heartbreakers were a lean, tight band that could handle hard rock & roll and melodic pop equally well. The group gained critical attention and solid sales with their first album, but 1979's Damn the Torpedos was their commercial breakthrough, selling over two million copies; it couldn't have come at a better time, since Petty filed for bankruptcy before its release.

During the '80s, Petty sold consistently well, as he expanded his sound with the release of each album. In 1989, he released his first solo album, Full Moon Fever, which became his biggest hit yet. That momentum carried over into the next Heartbreakers release, 1991's Into the Great Wide Open, which went platinum. As they were preparing their next album, the group released a greatest-hits album in 1993 which contained the hit single, "Mary Jane's Last Dance." Greatest Hits was the last album the group released on MCA Records. In 1994, Petty began a new contract with Warner Bros, releasing Wildflowers toward the end of that year; Wildflowers became another multi-platinum success for him. In 1995, MCA Records released a five-disc box set called Playback. In the summer of 1996, Petty & the Heartbreakers released Songs and Music from She's the One. The Rick Rubin production Echo followed three years later. 2002 saw the release of The Last DJ, a scathing attack on the corporate greed inherent in the music business. It was followed in 2006 by a Petty solo album, Highway Companion. Another Heartbreakers album, Mojo, appeared on Reprise Records in 2010. Returning to their rehearsal space, The Clubhouse, in 2011, Petty & the Heartbreakers spent time demo'ing and recording what would become their 13th studio album. The harder, rockier, Hypnotic Eye was scheduled for a July 2014 release. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

  • ORIGIN
    Gainesville, FL
  • FORMED
    1975

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