The Sound Board


RIP Tom Petty

Our hearts are broken as one of our favorite artists of all time has passed away. Tom Petty was born in Florida in 1950 and by his teens was playing with local favorites Mudcrutch. In 1975 he and other members of the group moved to Los Angeles, where they formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The following year, the release of their self-titled debut marked the beginning of what would be a decades-long and extremely successful run, during which they would consistently find themselves at the top of the charts with now-classic songs such as “American Girl,” “Refugee,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “Learning to Fly,” among many others. In 1989 Petty embarked on an equally successful solo career, with highlights such as the megahit “Free Fallin’.” Petty collaborated with other legendary rockers including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Johnny Cash, to name just a few.

Just last week, he played his final three shows right down the street from LSTN HQ at the Hollywood Bowl. Here are our top 3 albums from one of the coolest guys to ever play rock music. Rest in peace, Tom.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

The songs on this album, particularly the irresistible chug of "American Girl" and the moody cool of "Breakdown," have so ingrained themselves in the rock canon that it’s difficult to realize how fresh the Heartbreakers debut was when released in 1976. The self-titled record remains an excellent introduction to this band, which never tried to recreate the sounds of British and American ’60s rock as much as it attempted to harness the excitement of that music. There’s a youthful exuberance that infects every song, from a tune about being stupid and in love with rock ("Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll") to a tune about being stupid and in love with the wrong girl ("The Wild One, Forever").

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Damn the Torpedoes

Damn The Torpedoes catapulted Petty and company into the first rank of American Rock acts, and it's not hard to understand why. With a slate of driving songs destined to become FM staples ("Refugee," "Here Comes My Girl," "Even the Losers," "Don't Do Me Like That"), it's an album that plays much like half a greatest-hits collection. Fusing a rootsy sensibility heavy with Dylan and Byrds affectations with his own pop instincts (honed by early stints with Mudcrutch and Dwight Twilley) and coupling them with one of rock's most consistently underrated powerhouses, the Heartbreakers, Petty's throwback traditionalism oddly found him riding the crest of the new wave in the late '70s.

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Full Moon Fever

Full Moon Fever is Petty's solo debut, released on April 24, 1989. It features contributions from members of the Heartbreakers alongside his Traveling Wilburys bandmates Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison. The album became a commercial success, peaking at No. 3 on the US Billboard 200 and being certified 5 times platinum in the US.

Featuring the singles "I Won’t Back Down", "Runnin’ Down A Dream", "Free Fallin’", "A Face In The Crowd", and "Yer So Bad", this is a must-listen album for any classic rock fan.

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