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The quiet rock and roll star


Some of you may have missed it, but Tom Petty passed away this last week. There was other pressing news on the headlines taking the most press time, but the rock and roll legend’s life was very similar to the way he went out. Powerful, but not fighting for attention, he was one of the most influential and popular American rock stars of our generation and his music continues to be favored by all generations.

It all started with a chance meeting with Elvis in 1961, and that set the spark. Fueled by the Beatles and Rolling Stones, he set out to be in a band that made good rock and roll music. Like most bands, it was a struggle at first; but the fire never went out and a band emerged. A band that we still recognize as soon as a tune starts to play. Tom Petty achieved his dream quietly and without a lot of fanfare.

“Free Fallin’,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” and “Into the Great Wide Open” are epic songs that we all sing to when they play. Petty also lived out dreams of collaborating with many artists that he respected and looked up to. Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks and George Harrison, to name a few. It seemed Petty had no limits, and his songwriting became just as coveted as his performing. He never ran out of steam either; he was currently on a world tour, performing with many of the artists and band members who had been with him from the beginning.

Petty’s unique look and sound is a testament to his desire to be in control of all things he created. Always a fan favorite, he will continue to be on everyone’s playlist and will be remembered as a pioneer of American rock and duets with other big stars. He will ride into the great wide open as a person who played songs that meant something to us all. He will not be remembered as a refugee, but as a man who listened to his heart and followed a dream. We could all take advice from the life he lived and just reach for a star, and never free fall.


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