On Monday, October 2nd, 2017, the music world said goodbye to Tom Petty, a singular talent who transcended generational lines and made his way into the pantheon of rock and roll history. Petty will be remembered as a one-of-a-kind musical talent through his celebrated work as a singer, songwriter, producer, and bandleader. But while his concrete work will define his legacy as the years roll on, Petty’s soothing presence and effortlessly cool California kid demeanor was always at the center of his beloved persona.
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An affable, mild-mannered, soft-spoken man, Petty seemed to exude an air of calmness and grace that simply cannot be taught. He always seemed like a straight shooter, a sincere and good-natured soul. That ethos permeated his career, from his earliest days in the spotlight to his final moments onstage, when he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his now-legendary band with a sold-out run at the Hollywood Bowl.
As we sifted through years of Petty memories in the wake of his passing four years ago today, the 1977 interview he gave to Bob Harris for British music TV program The Old Grey Whistle Test stood out as a memorable example of the artist’s famously laid-back charisma. As Petty expounds during the interview, “Rock n Roll is pretty Universal.” And the way he says it—the way he illustrated it for decades—we even feel comfortable taking that statement one step further: Tom Petty is Universal.
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So let’s get to the point: Roll another joint, turn the radio loud, and watch a young Tom Petty shoot the breeze from the “rock and roll center of the Universe, Sunset Strip” (via BBC Archive):
Tom Petty 1977 TV Interview
Rest in peace, Tom Petty. The world misses you…
[Originally published 10/4/17]