Music & Culture

Tom Petty’s Legacy Lives on Through Other Artists

By: Alley Rosa//


On Monday, October 2nd, the world lost the iconic singer/songwriter, Tom Petty, at just 66 years old.  Petty was the lead singer of his group, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and he was also a part of the group, Traveling Wilburys.  He recorded several hit singles, as both a solo artist and a group artist, such as “Free Fallin’,” “American Girl,” and “Wildflowers.”  Over the span of his career, he sold over 80 million records and, in 2002, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Alongside his many musical achievements, he was also an influential figure for many other musicians.  His death was immediately followed by an influx of tributes in the form of social media posts by artists like John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Slash, Alice Cooper, and many others, all appreciating and honoring his life and musical accomplishments.  Taylor Swift spoke with Rolling Stone about how Tom Petty’s legacy lives on within those he has inspired, stating, “he motivated thousands of guitarists to learn to play just because they wanted to be able to play “Free Fallin’.” Count me as one of them.”

In addition to the countless statements of admiration and gratuity, several artists played musical tributes to Petty.  Within hours of his passing, Coldplay‘s Chris Martin and R.E.M‘s Peter Bruck performed “Free Fallin'” at Coldplay’s concert in Portland.  Four days later, Martin performed the hit again at his concert in Pasadena, alongside Late Late Show host, James Corden, and an audience of 60,000 fans.  Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus performed a heartfelt rendition of ‘Wildflowers’ on the Tonight Show. 

The loss of Tom Petty is felt in every corner of the world.  As such an influential figure, he is survived by the parts of himself that are expressed by other musicians, and the timeless records he gifted to his fans and the musical community.

tom petty
Photo: Twitter (@tompetty, via @LinerNoteJunkie)

Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017)

Featured Photo: Photo-Graffiti