Tom Petty, leader of The Heartbreakers and member of The Traveling Wilburys, died Monday night from cardiac arrest. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was 66 years old.
Petty told Fresh Air in 2006 that he drew on the music of The Byrds and The Beatles in the hopes of developing his own distinctive guitar style.
“We always wanted very much to create our own sound,” he said. “I tried to take whatever influences I had and make them meld together into something that was our own sound. And we somehow did that. I don’t know how.”
“It’s turned out to be the one song that’s had the most influence on people that approach me on the street or talk to me in a restaurant,” Petty said. “It’s been really important to a lot of people in their lives.”
For his part, Petty was touched by the way his music moved his fans: “I know the songs mean a lot to people, and it means a lot to me. … The rock 'n’ roll stuff is more than just something that you can manipulate into advertising or whatever they do with them. It means more than that to me.”