Remembering rock legend Tom Petty

Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performs during the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, June 16, 2013 in Manchester, Tennessee.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The death this past week of singer/songwriter Tom Petty shocked the world of rock music and inspired this appreciation from our Bill Flanagan: 

I cannot believe I am doing a eulogy for Tom Petty. I knew Tom for over thirty years. I never imagined I would outlive him.

One week before his death, Tom Petty was on stage at the Hollywood Bowl playing the last show of his most successful tour. 

2017 began with an all-star music industry tribute to Petty during Grammy Week, and continued with a 53-date 40th anniversary celebration of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Petty's final tour was joyful. You would never have known he was in severe pain. Tom had fractured his hip but he kept it a secret. He would not consider cancelling the shows to have surgery. He went out and played hurt, for months.

Tom Petty had a tough upbringing in Gainesville, Florida. His father did not know what to make of a skinny, long-haired son who didn't care about sports. He didn't want his boy to be a sissy, so he tried to beat it out of him. 

It just made Tom more determined.

To hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform "I Won't Back Down," click on the video player below.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - I Won't Back Down by TomPettyVEVO on YouTube

Petty's songs were full of defiance -- "I Won't Back Down." "You Don't Know How it Feels." "Don't Come Around Here No More." "(I Don't) Scare Easy." "Don't Do Me Like That." "Stop Dragging My Heart Around." "You don't have to live like a refugee."

To hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform "Refugee," click on the video player below.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Refugee by TomPettyVEVO on YouTube

It took 40 years and a lot of soul searching for him to write the key song on his final album: "I Forgive It All":

Mudcrutch - I Forgive It All (Official Music Video) by tompetty on YouTube

Tom Petty wrote songs for anyone who felt lonely and misunderstood. His message was simple and profound: "You are not alone."

God bless you, Tom.

To hear Tom Petty's speech on empowering America's youth, from the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year ceremony, click on the video player below.

Tom Petty MusiCares Speech: Rock & Roll Empowers America's Youth | 59th GRAMMYs by Recording Academy / GRAMMYs on YouTube

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