Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actor. He was the lead vocalist and guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, formed in 1976. He previously led the band Mudcrutch, and was also a member of the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.
Petty recorded a number of hit singles with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist. His hit singles with the Heartbreakers include “Don’t Do Me Like That” (1979), “Refugee” (1980), “The Waiting” (1981), “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (1985) and “Learning to Fly” (1991). Petty’s hit singles as a solo act include “I Won’t Back Down” (1989), “Free Fallin’” (1989), and “You Don’t Know How It Feels” (1994). In his career, he sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Petty died of an accidental drug overdose on October 2, 2017, one week after the end of the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary Tour.