R.I.P.: Tom Petty

On Sunday night, I was at the Nashville City Winery watching a great show by Chris Hillman. The founding member of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers was there celebrating his new release which is a great collection of songs produced earlier this year by Tom Petty.

For a moment, I fantasized how cool it would be for Petty to show up and play with Chris. For if you listen to Hillman’s record, you can just feel how important this project was to Petty. Much like when he produced an album for the late Del Shannon back in 1981, getting to work with one of your heroes must be special.

Tom didn’t show up, but Chris Hillman told several great tales about how working with Tom, not knowing of course that he would be gone the next day. I drove home smiling that night, not only thinking about Hillman’s show, but about Tom Petty and how one of the reasons I first liked him was his love of The Byrds and the sound of his Rickenbacker guitar. It also reminded me of how the admiration was mutual, and that The Byrd’s Roger McGuinn recorded Tom’s “American Girl” right after he did.

Sunday’s joy turned into sadness on Monday. Petty was just too young to leave us. I’m sure he had a lot of great music still left in him that we will now never get to hear. I bet things are rocking in Heaven though where there are now more Wilburys than there are left here on earth.


Here’s Tom playing with his reunited early band, Mudcrutch, at the Ryman on May 31, 2016.


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