UPDATE: apparently it’s not the end yet. Tom is “clinging to life” according to the most recent reports. If he gets out of this, it’s the most badass return from the dead.
UPDATE 2: Tom Petty had indeed died.
What a crappy day this is becoming. First the Las Vegas shooting, and now I heard that Tom Petty had died, at the age of 66. What a loss.
Tom Petty died following a heart attack last night. Truly a heartbreaker. We lost a music legend today. #learningtofly
Posted by That's My Gig on Monday, October 2, 2017
My first instinct was to search for a live performance of “Learning to Fly” – and I’ve found this amazing recording from Bonnaroo 2006. Listen to the mesmerising co-singing with the crowd starting at 3:24. Petty and the audience are a singer and his friends choir. It’s almost as if the stage doesn’t exist there.
The music and culture trades will tell his immaculate life story as a rock icon over the next few days, but I just wanted to share a small personal memory from this giant.
It was 1991 and I was still an elementary school kid, about to start 7th grade. “Learning to Fly” was just released as part of the Heartbreakers album, and the video was running on and on in our 1 public channel country, in between shows.
We have some of our own Rock and Blues giants here in Sweden, and in general, everyone loves Rock music in Sweden. The 80’s with their fat reverb and synth pop sounds were reaching their last mile, and just around the corner were waiting the distortion and grunge gods to make their smashing entrance and officially kick off the 90s.
But it wasn’t there yet. It was still the soft and relaxed “something big is about to happen soon” atmosphere before the rebel rock distortion storm would arrive.
I was watching the Heartbreakers music videos, and pretty much immediately started airguitaring on “Learning to Fly”. It was this song that nailed my itch for getting a guitar.
The hooking melody, the sharp clean and non-echoed sound, and the no-posing performance attitude of Petty and his band all conveyed the zeitgeist of this interim period. The Heartland Rock was fitting perfectly, and marked the return of the guitar into the centre of the music scene.
It was the right soundtrack for those twilight till dawn months.
Here’s what Bob Dylan told to the “Rolling Stone” magazine today:
“I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”