I was barely a freshman (20'ish years ago) in high school when I started to really dig into the work of Tom Petty. That was an incredible year for me to learn about classic rock. I first became interested in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers because I loved Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Realizing that sounds and influences always gel together somehow, I quickly found out that they were more than just "Don't Come Around Here No More," which was one of the first music videos I had ever seen. They were an American rock band, a little swampy, super simple, but still slickly produced. You can hear their influence in a lot of bands to this day.
Freshman year was good for my musical tastes. I saved up my lunch money a lot in high school (yet still managed to eat lunch) to buy music. One of the first things I plunked money down for was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers anthology and went from there. One of the best purchases of my life, I swear. It's been nothing but love since then.
I know that there are absolutely more serious matters to discuss in the country right now. I also know that I am awkward and feel most comfortable talking about music. And I know that my love for classic rock and music in general would not be as huge if it weren't for the influence of Tom. I still have cassette tapes of songs I taped off of the radio and can guarantee that half of them are his (along with Bowie, Dylan, The Clash, and Fleetwood Mac). My love for his music would eventually pan into loving other bands and-eventually-give me the passion to even think about working in radio.
Thank you, Tom. I am beyond lucky to have experienced your art.