Happy birthday, Thomas Earl Petty (1950-), Gainesville, Florida's favorite son, who began making music at 13 with a guitar his mother ordered from the Sears catalog.
Mudcrutch, the band he formed in '73, evolved into the Heartbreakers in '75 who Petty called "the best band in the world." For 25 years, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have managed to make the creation of great rock & roll music look easy.
"I don't believe it's necessary to shout and scream everything to be effective,'' Petty said earlier this year. "Sometimes you can under do it and be more effective.''
In the spirit of guitarists John Lennon, Keith Richards, and Elvis Presley from the Sun Records period, Petty prides himself in playing rhythm guitar. "Rhythm playing is a lost art these days--there aren't a lot of people who do it seriously anymore," he told Guitar Player magazine.
His main Telecaster guitar was custom-made in '81. He cherishes its incomparable sound and holds on to it for dear life, "If I ever lost my main Tele, I'd die--it's so good."
When Petty writes he makes it a rule to "let the music dictate the lyric." His songs are honest with texture and depth. His characters are witty and cynical and real. Listening to the yearning in Southern Accents is a revelation in Petty's understated singing and songwriting genius.
"A lot of the biggest songs only took minutes to write. It's about waiting for that bolt of lightening."
"I got my own way of livin' that everything gets done
with a Southern Accent where I come from..."