Remembering Tom Petty: The All American Songwriter

Earlier this week, we were rudely confronted with the news that the US singer-songwriter Tom Petty had passed away following a cardiac arrest. At the age of just 66, the Heartbreakers frontman had been regularly playing shows and releasing new music for more than 40 years, right up until his death. And after so many years, Petty had managed to pierce not just the international music scene, but also popular culture as well. With this in mind, we thought we would look back at some of the work that made him such a recognisable talent.

'Free Fallin''

Probably named as the best and most recognisable Tom Petty song, 'Free Fallin' remained a cult hit for the rocker when it was originally released. That was until its iconic use in the 1994 film 'Jerry Maguire' made it into a worldwide anthem for road trips of all kinds. Since then, the song is a mixtape favourite that anyone would feel obliged to sing along to.

'I Won't Back Down'

One of only a handful of number 1 singles for the frontman, 'I Won't Back Down' came after Petty's songwriting begun to receive huge comparisons to The Beatles. Not really taking this as an insult though, Petty then asked George Harrison to appear in the video for this song, and you can even spot Ringo Starr on the drums. Although he wasn't the actual drummer on the recording for this track.

'Into The Great Wide Open'

While music videos in rock have always been an illustrious and usually expensive affair, the video for 'Into The Great Wide Open' set a personal standard in Petty's catalogue. Featuring the acting talents of a young Johnny Depp and directed by Julien Temple, the track was actually extended to accommodate the much-loved visuals. Making it one of the few songs more than three minutes in length that radio stations would play in its entirety.

'Runnin' Down A Dream'

Throughout his career, Tom Petty regularly collaborated with ELO's Jeff Lynne and 'Runnin' Down A Dream' was one of the very first. Taking a step away from his usual sound, the track was designed to be a stadium anthem to match Petty's growing popularity and is now one of the most recognised guitar riffs in the world. Even if you've never heard of it before, that riff will certainly spark something in your memory.

'American Girl'

Considered his most commercially popular hit, 'American Girl' is one of those true American rock classics. And while its lyrical content has been debated for years, it is that toe-tapping riff that manages to leave a lasting impression on you. Even The Strokes admitted to lifting the riff for their debut single 'Last Night'.