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Profile of the Day: Tom Petty

Today we remember singer and songwriter Tom Petty on what would have been his 70th birthday. The lead vocalist and guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Petty is considered to be one of the best selling music artists of all time.

Image: Tom Petty / Takahiro Kyono, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida to Earl Petty, a traveling salesman, and Katherine Avery, a local tax office worker. Petty’s interest in rock and roll began at the age of 10 when his uncle introduced him to Elvis Presley on the set of Follow That Dream. He later dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to pursue a career in music.

In 1976, he found success as a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Their debut album featured the songs “American Girl” and “Breakdown,” which would become some of the band’s most popular songs. For decades, the band released a string of hit singles and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Throughout his career, Petty also pursued work as a solo artist. In 1989, he released his debut solo album Full Moon Fever, which featured popular hits “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’.” Even with his success as a solo artist, Petty continued to perform with the band. Shortly before his death, the band had embarked on a 40th Anniversary Tour of the United States.

Sadly, Petty died on October 2, 2017 at the age of 66.

What’s your favorite song?

Explore Tom Petty’s family tree and share how you’re connected to the legendary musician.

View Tom Petty’s Geni Profile

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