the travelling wilburys

7

“We became very good friends, really, for decades. I don’t like to bring it up that much, because The Beatles are so special that people might see it as boasting or something. But he actually became my friend, past being a Beatle to me. It was like having an older brother that had a lot of experience in the music business, someone who I could go to with my troubles and questions.

“I think [spirituality], probably, was the greatest gift he gave me. He gave me a way of understanding a higher power without it being stupid, or having tons of rules and books to read. But the best thing I can say to people that are curious about that is George was probably everything that you thought he was, and then some more. Very funny man; he could just kill me with his humor. He was a great guy and I miss him terribly.

“Strangely enough, we got along very well right away. He was the kind of person that, when he came across a good thing or the potential for a friend, he really was aggressive about it. And he had a way of knocking out anything that was extracurricular, or in the way of what was really going on. He could get you comfortable with him very quickly. I was always asking Beatle questions, and probably annoyed him. But, you know, he liked The Beatles, too. He liked talking about it and remembering it.”

[Tom Petty, NPR Music, 4th August 2014]

Tom Petty talking about George in 2014, accompanied by some of the ‘polaroids’ from the Traveling Wilburys sessions. 

Tom and Lin-Manuel: An Appreciation/Jealous Rant

Every writer has a golden period – a chunk of time when her brain is ripest, when the veins he is tapping are the richest, when the ideas, big and small, spill out over the sides of the bucket instead of having to be patiently collected like drops of rain off a leaf. This is true for songwriters, playwrights, novelists, screenwriters, anyone who writes anything in any genre. Go look at John Hughes’s IMDb page and marvel at his golden period, which I would bookend as 1983-1990. It’s outrageous. He wrote Vacation, Mr. Mom, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone in eight years. Eight years?! That’s absurd.

But then look at his next 20 years. You won’t find one movie that is better than the worst one he wrote in those seven years. The vein ran dry. It always does. That’s just the deal.

Tom Petty’s golden period never ended. Or, at least, the silver periods on either side of his golden period were seemingly infinite. No matter where you think he peaked – Full Moon Fever, or Wildflowers, or Damn the Torpedoes – the decades on either side were wonderful. He was great from the moment he released his first album in 1977 to the day he died last month. For forty years he wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and the songs he wrote were good or great or amazing.

Tom Petty wrote “Breakdown” and “American Girl” in 1977. He wrote “You Don’t Know How it Feels” seventeen years later, in 1994. He wrote “You Got Lucky” in 1982, “King’s Highway” in 1992, “The Last DJ” in 2002. He wrote “I Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” Free Fallin’,” “Love is a Long Road,” “A Face in the Crowd,” Yer So Bad,” and “The Apartment Song,” and “Depending on You,” all in 1989, and they were all on the same album, and that’s absurd.

He wrote “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” in 1981 and “Big Weekend” in 2006. He wrote every song on Wildflowers – and they are all great – in or around 1994. He wrote fifty other great songs I haven’t named yet, like “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “Jammin Me.” He wrote great songs you’ve heard a million times, and great songs you’ve maybe never heard, like “Billy the Kid” (1999) and “Walls” (1996) which was buried on the soundtrack to She’s the One.  He took a break from the Heartbreakers and casually released “End of the Line” and “Handle With Care” and “She’s My Baby” with the Traveling Wilburys in 1989-90. He wrote “Refugee” in 1980 and “I Should Have Known It” in 2010. Is there any rock and roll songwriter alive who wrote two songs that good, 30 years apart? (Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in 1968, and only 12 years later he wrote “Wonderful Christmas Time,” which is so bad it nearly retroactively undid “Hey Jude.”)

He wrote about rock and roll things, like ’62 Cadillacs, getting out of this town, and dancing with Mary Jane. He wrote about love and loss and heartbreak. He wrote legitimately funny jokes, and moribund memories, and personal narratives, and imaginative flights of fancy. One of his characters calls his father his “old man” and it somehow isn’t cheesy. He was from Florida and California and wrote about both of them, and every time I’m on Ventura Boulevard I think of vampires, because the images he wrote are indelible. 

Petty didn’t just write songs directed at women, like most rock stars. He wrote about women, and he wrote for women, and he wrote with women. He treated the women in his songs as lovingly and respectfully as he treated the men. He cared about them as much, he spent as much time thinking about them, and he liked them as much, and all of that is rare.

He wrote simply, but not boringly. He made his characters three-dimensional, somehow, in a matter of seconds. There’s a famous (probably apocryphal) story about Hemingway bragging he could write an entire novel in six words, then writing: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I prefer the 18-word novel Petty wrote as the first verse to “Down South” –

Headed back down south
Gonna see my daddy’s mistress
Gonna buy back her forgiveness
Pay off every witness

When I was working on Parks and Recreation, whenever we needed a song to score an important moment in Leslie Knope’s life, we chose a Tom Petty song. It started with “American Girl,” when her biggest career project came to fruition. It was “Wildflowers” when she said goodbye to her best friend. It was “End of the Line” at the moment the show ended. For the seven seasons of our show, Tom Petty was the writer we trusted to explain how our main character was feeling, because he wrote so much, so well, for so long.

*******

It seems like a joke, Hamilton – a joke in a TV show where one of the characters is a struggling New York actor, and is always dragging his friends to his terrible plays. Like Joey in Friends. There’s an episode of Friends where Joey is in a terrible musical called like Freud!, about Sigmund Freud, and you get to see some of it, and it’s predictably terrible. Freud! the musical is arguably a better idea than Hamilton the musical.

I’m far from the first person to say this – I’m probably somewhere around the millionth person to write about Hamilton, and the maybe 500,000th to make this particular point, but it needs to be said – a hip-hop Broadway musical about the founding fathers is an astoundingly terrible idea. Lin-Manuel Miranda should never have written it. As soon as he started to write it, he should’ve said to himself, “What the fuck am I doing?!” and stopped. And after he got halfway through, he should’ve junked it, gotten really drunk, and moved on with his life, and made his wife and friends swear to never mention the weird six months where he was trying to write a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton. I literally guarantee you that when Lin-Manuel Miranda first told his friends what he was writing, every one of them reacted with at best a frozen smile, and at worst a horrified recoiling. Some of them might have been outwardly encouraging – “sounds awesome bud! Go get ‘em!” But then later, alone, they would call each other and say What the fuck is he doing?

There is a moment, in Hamilton, when what you are watching overwhelms you. (It’s not the same moment for everyone, but most everyone has one, I suspect.) It’s the moment when the enormity, the complexity, the meaning of it, the entirety of it, overpowers you, and you realize that what you are experiencing is new – new both in your specific life, and new, like, on Earth.  The first time I saw it, that moment was a line in the middle of “Yorktown.” Hamilton sang the line And so the American experiment begins / With my friends all scattered to the winds, and I burst into tears in a way I hadn’t since I was 10 and a baseball went through a guy’s legs in the World Series. Something about how casually he says that – And so the American experiment begins – just settled over me, like a collapsing tent, and this thing I was watching wasn’t in front of me, it was everywhere around me, and it was exhilarating and transformative.

(If I could put this part in a footnote, I would, but I don’t know how to, so: I should mention that I am very far from a musical theater aficionado. I have seen maybe eight musicals in my life. Not only did I not expect to cry, hard, during Hamilton, I did not expect to enjoy it. I saw it like a week after it opened on Broadway, kind of on a whim, knew nothing about it, and the last thing I said to my wife, as the lights went down, was: “We’ll leave at intermission.”)

The second time I saw it, that moment came much earlier (I knew what I was getting into, this time, so I was more ready to be subsumed). It came barely three minutes in, when the entire cast of the show, in a piece of choreography that can best be referred to as “badass,” all walk down to the very front of the stage and stand, shoulder to shoulder, and sing very loudly about how Alexander Hamilton never learned to take his time. The cast has, to this point, trickled on stage, slowly, one by one, telling you Hamilton’s origin story, and then suddenly there they all are, all of them – maybe 20? 50? It seems like 1000? – as close to the audience as they can get, and they are every size and ethnicity and gender, and their voices are loud, and I thought to myself, oh my God, this is a cast of people descended from every nation on Earth, all singing about the foundations of the American experience, and yes I “knew” that, intellectually, but holy shit, now that I see them all, I know it, like in my stomach, I understand it, and what a thing that is.

The third time I saw Hamilton, that moment was during “It’s Quiet Uptown,” when this enormous, sprawling, improbable, otherworldly, multi-ethnic, historical, art tornado presses pause on all of its historical-cultural-ethno-sociological-artistic investigations, and spends four and a half spare minutes with a couple who are grieving an unimaginable tragedy.  Specifically, it was the lines

Forgiveness
Can you imagine?
Forgiveness
Can you imagine?

What a thing to do, for your characters – to give them four and a half minutes in the middle of an enormous, sprawling, historical swirl, to just be sad. What a piece of writing that is.

(Again, should be a footnote, but: as long as I’m talking about writers here, I should point out that if the late Harris Wittels were alive, he would, at this moment, text me and hit me with a “humblebrag” for writing about how I have seen Hamilton three times, and he would be right. Miss you Harris!)

In the hundreds of hours of my life I have spent thinking about Hamilton since I first saw it – far more hours than any other single piece of art I have ever experienced – I have revisited that same thought over and over: he never should’ve written it. It was an absurd thing to do. It took him a year to write the title song, then another year to write the second song, and how did he not give up when two years had gone by and he’d written two songs?  He must’ve known in his heart it needed to be a 50-song, 2 ½-hour enterprise, and he had two songs after two years, and he kept going. How did he keep going? I’ve been trying to write this blog post about two writers I admire for different reasons since the week Tom Petty died, and I’ve almost given up five times.

At this point, the entire musical is that “moment” for me. It’s the whole thing, now – the thing that overwhelms me is the whole thing. The conception of it, the writing of it, the rewriting of it. The music and the motifs and the themes and the threads and the dramatic shape and the characters and their inner lives, and the eagle-eye writer’s view it took to keep all of that in his head, all of it, the whole time. The writing of it. The utterly impossible writing of it. 

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988; photographed by Neal Preston.

“[Preston] remembers being called by a contact to go to a house in Encino, California, for some shots of Tom Petty and a few friends. ‘Tom’s gonna call you and he’ll give you the details,’ she said.
When Petty called, Preston asked for directions. ‘“Well, it’s er, it’s um, er… here, talk to George.” So he hands the phone over to a guy named George, and this guy says “Hi, this is George.” ‘I ask what’s the address and it’s a distinctly Liverpudlian accent and I suddenly realize it’s #GeorgeHarrison and he telling me what exit to get off the 101.
‘I’m in a haze now. I remember nothing about the rest of that phone call, but I managed to write the address.’
When he got to the house he found Petty not only with George Harrison, but also Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. They were just forming the #TravelingWilburys.
‘I get to the house about an hour later, knock on the door and a roadie lets me in and I walk in and George is sitting at the table and I see Roy in the kitchen mixing some tea or something and I think this is pretty wild.’
But while Preston was in awe of Harrison — ‘in my world, a Beatle trumps anyone,’ he said — the musicians were more worried about Dylan. ‘George pulls me aside and takes me in this small room, closes the door and says: “Now, listen to me, Bob is in a pretty good mood. I’ll let you know when the mood is just right, I’ll give you a sign and then we’ll shoot, But we won’t shoot until Bob is ready.”
‘Then Tom Petty walks in, gives me a hug and says: “Now, Bob’s in an ok mood.” It’s all the same thing. They’re walking on eggshells around Bob Dylan.’
He got the picture he wanted of the five Wilburys together, but not before another shot of four of the supergroup with Dylan way in the background, hunched over playing pinball before he would join his bandmates.
Many years later, after George’s 2001 death, his widow Olivia visited Preston with a documentary about the Traveling Wilburys. She had wanted him to see that it opened with a picture the roadie had taken of Preston’s shoot.” - Daily Mail, 17 October 2017

🎃Happy Halloween 🎃

The one stealing candy from the bucket: Jimmy Page

The one who can’t decide what to wear: Rick Wright

The one planning to egg someone’s house: Paul McCartney

The one streaking through the neighborhood: Roger Daltrey

The one who spiked the punch: John Entwistle

The one who shows up drunk dressed as a princess: Percy Plant

The one introducing a blowup doll as their date: Greg Lake

The one dressed as a giant dick: Jeff Lynne

The one throwing candy at the trick or treaters: Brian Jones

The one dancing with the skeleton decoration: Suzi Quatro

The one dressed as the phantom and jumping out and scaring passerbys: David Bowie

The ones dressed like Frankenstein and his bride: Bob Dylan x Pete Townshend

The one dressed as the wolf man who keeps howling at the moon: George Harrison

The one dressed as Dracula and trying to bite everyone: Mike Campbell

The one dressed as the Mad Hatter and giving everyone over sugared tea: Gypsy (This was not on purpose this was shuffled I assure you!!)

The one hiding in the pool pretending to be a Kracken: Ringo Starr  (cut him off he’s had enough punch!! 😂)

The one stealing toilet paper from the house to TeePee the neighbors: Bonzo

The ones dressed as Frank-N-Furter x Rocky: Joey Ramone x Stan Lynch

The one running around with a bloody butcher’s knife: Jonesy

The one who switched the apples in the bobber with prunes: Ray Manzarek

The one dressed as a hooker: Gram Parsons

The one trying to watch horror movies: David Gilmour

The one singing drunk Halloween songs: Pamela Des Barres

The one who wants to go ghost hunting: John Lennon

The one dressed as a zombie asking people if they can eat their brains: Izzy Stradlin

The one wearing a shirt that reads this is my costume: Gregg Allman

The one who eats the candy in front of the children: Roger McGuinn

The one who hogs the candy corn: Michael Clarke

The one sprawled out on the floor from too much punch chanting this is my happy place: Stevie Nicks

The one dressed like a pirate asking everyone for their booty: Gene Parsons

The one dressed like a cat who keeps saying everyone needs a little Pussy in their lives: Tom Petty (I actually wrote this with him in mind and lo and behold this happens!!😂)

The one dressed like a giant gator chasing people yelling I’m gonna eat ya!: Iggy Pop

The one carving inappropriate thing into pumpkins: Howie Epstein

The one mooning trick or treaters: Alice Cooper

The one getting fake blood everywhere scaring the children: Nick Mason

The one dressed as a mummy but used toilet paper so their costume keeps tearing: Chris Hillman

The one dressed as a witch threatening the bad trick or treaters that they’ll eat them: Gene Clark

The one dressed like a playboy bunny and serving drinks: David Crosby

The one dressed like a devil who keeps hitting on the one dressed like an angel: Ron Blair x Roy Orbison

The one dressed like a flower who keeps slapping the guest dressed like a Honey Bee: Mike Nesmith x Marc Bolan

The two dressed as cowboys pretending to have and old western showdown: Jim Morrison x Benmont Tench (Whoo Floridian showdown!!)

The one dressed as a dragon using an aerosol can and a lighter for their special effects: Moonie (this fucking happened!!)

The one dressed as a skeleton fighting with the fog machine: John Densmore

The one dressed as a butterfly trying to put up the cobwebs and gets tangled: Keith Emerson

The one dressed like a clown surrounded by severed body parts handing out candy: Syd Barrett

The one dressed like Popeye swearing at passerbys: Joan Baez

The one who showed up in Gimp Gear as a costume: Todd Rundgren

The two dressed like Bonnie and Clyde: Roger Waters x Carl Palmer

The one dressed as nun spanking people with their ruler: Stu Sutcliffe

The one dressed up like a detective asking everyone if they need a Dick: Robby Krieger

[This was fun 😂]

~ 💘

6

Tom Petty Dead at 66

Tom Petty, the bandleader who shot to fame with the Heartbreakers and enjoyed a successful, four-decade career, died late Monday.

He was 66.

Petty suffered cardiac arrest early in the day and was rushed unconscious to a hospital. He was taken off life support and CBS News reported his death that afternoon before the Los Angeles Police walked back the confirmation it provided.

”Sending love to Tom Petty and his family at this difficult time,” Paul McCartney tweeted at the time.

Confusion persisted until manager Tony Dimitriades confirmed Petty’s death on Facebook late on Oct. 2.

”On behalf of the Tom Petty family we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty.

”He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PST surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

”So sad about Tom Petty, he made some great music,” Mick Jagger tweeted. “Thoughts are with his family.”

Petty and the Heartbreakers found massive success with their third album, 1979’s Damn the Torpedos. It spawned the hits “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That” and cemented a partnership that continued through the band’s 40th-anniversary tour, which wrapped Sept. 25.

Dwight Yoakam took to Facebook to eulogize Petty and said he arrived at just the right time.

”Just about the time when the punks had overrun the music world, sacked and burned Rome, this cat showed up still redneck, hot rod, rockin’!! … Never got to know him, except as a fan, but I’m sure gonna miss him.”

Ted Nugent called Petty a “great gifted hardworking American soulmusic master” in a Facebook post.

”We thank and salute the great musician for enriching so many peoples lives with his brilliant songwriting, soulful performances and virtuoso bandmates,” he said. “… His music and soul will live forever.”

Outside the Heartbreakers, Petty was a successful solo artist with albums such as Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers. In 1988, he was the kid (dubbed “Charlie T. Jr.”) in the Traveling Wilburys, with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan and recently toured and recorded with a reconstituted version of his first band, Mudcrutch.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Dylan called Petty’s death, “shocking, crushing news.

“I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

An unabashed Byrds fan, Petty often played “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star” in concert and produced Chris Hillman’s just-released Bidin’ My Time LP.

“[He’s] very subtle. He has good ideas, and he … lets the music flow,” Hillman told The Boot in discussing Petty’s production skills. “He was very good, a very good producer. I’ve worked with some good ones, and he’s up there with them.”

”Tom Petty was a kind friend with a beautiful soul,” Eddie Money said. “Our condolences go out to his family and may he rest in peace. We will miss him.”

A “heartbroken” Brian Wilson offered “love and mercy” to Petty’s friends, family and fans.

”He was just too young and still in his prime,” Wilson wrote. “Tom was a hell of a songwriter and record-maker and he will be missed by everyone who loves music. I’m so sad to hear about this.”

At the height of his success, Petty fought against record labels’ efforts to raise LP prices and was revered for his band’s live shows.

”His music will endure,” Huey Lewis said on Facebook.

Outside of music, Petty provided the voice of Lucky on “Family Guy.”

”Devastating loss in Mr. Tom Petty,” George Thorogood said on Facebook. “He will be remembered as a true rock legend - so many classics. Thoughts and prayers to the Petty family and team.”

Petty had said the just-wrapped tour would be the Heartbreakers’ last major outing, but the band, which released an unlikely No. 1 album Hypnotic Eye in 2014, had a handful of dates scheduled for later this year.

Kid Rock noted Petty’s death came less than 24 hours after 59 concertgoers were murdered and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas.

”Just when I though today could not get any worse … R.I.P. Tom Petty,” he said on Facebook.

“Thank you for your beautiful music and inspiration.”

10/3/17

6

He remembers being called by a contact to go to a house in Encino, California, for some shots of Tom Petty and a few friends. ‘Tom’s gonna call you and he’ll give you the details,’ she said.

When Petty called, Preston asked for directions. ‘“Well, it’s er, it’s um, er… here, talk to George. So he hands the phone over to a guy named George, and this guy says “Hi, this is George.”

‘I ask what’s the address and it’s a distinctly Liverpudlian accent and I suddenly realize it’s George Harrison and he telling me what exit to get off the 101.

‘I’m in a haze now. I remember nothing about the rest of that phone call, but I managed to write the address.’

When he got to the house he found Petty not only with George Harrison, but also Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. They were just forming the Traveling Wilburys.

‘I get to the house about an hour later, knock on the door and a roadie lets me in and I walk in and George is sitting at the table and I see Roy in the kitchen mixing some tea or something and I think this is pretty wild.’

But while Preston was in awe of Harrison — ‘in my world, a Beatle trumps anyone,’ he said — the musicians were more worried about Dylan.

‘George pulls me aside and takes me in this small room, closes the door and says: “Now, listen to me, Bob is in a pretty good mood. I’ll let you know when the mood is just right, I’ll give you a sign and then we’ll shoot, But we won’t shoot until Bob is ready.”

‘Then Tom Petty walks in, gives me a hug and says: “Now, Bob’s in an ok mood.” It’s all the same thing. They’re walking on eggshells around Bob Dylan.’

He got the picture he wanted of the five Wilburys together, but not before another shot of four of the supergroup with Dylan way in the background, hunched over playing pinball before he would join his bandmates.

[How George Harrison babysat Bob Dylan, Daily Mail, 17th Oct 2017]

The photo photographer Neal Preston is referring to is the top photo. The other photos are more by Neal Preston taken on the same day. (From his new book, Exhilarated and Exhausted)

Pics: Neal Preston.

Songs to listen to whenever you feel blue:

By The Beatles:

By George Harrison:

Keep reading

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988.

“I just loved playing with the Traveling Wilburys. It was such fun doing that. Oddly enough, with a band that included, besides myself, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jim Keltner on drums, I felt less pressure than I had on many smaller projects, beause none of us had to worry about the solo performance thing so much. There was so much input from everybody, and we were all relieved to be in a band of equals where no one had to worry about doing all the lead vocals or all the writing. I think a lot of people who liked the first album didn’t get the second one, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. Unfortunately, it came out just when the Gulf War was starting and the economy was going down. I remember we were going down to choose outfits for our first video and we heard that they had just bombed Baghdad. But a song like ‘New Blue Moon’ [from Vol. 3] has that slap-back echo and the feel of all those great Fifties records I loved. It stands up to modern technology, yet has the brightness and feel of a real rockabilly record from the Fifties or early Sixties. It made me feel like I’d come full circle in a way.” - George Harrison, Guitar World, 1992

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The Traveling Wilburys  |  End of the Line  |  Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988)

Good night Tom. Please tell George and Roy we say, “Hey.”

[End of the Line starts playing]
me: *holds back tears* 
people: you ok?
me:

Originally posted by scalpelled

people: um..?
me:

Originally posted by hamlitons

me: *sobs for eternity*

As Bob Dylan said years ago, ‘The moment I speak, I become my enemy.’ I just wanted to have a quieter time. Anyway, there is less chance of people twisting what you say if you don’t say anything. They have all had their share of conceptualizing me but I have just gone about my life like a normal person. Every so often I see a newspaper headline saying I’m this, that or the other, but, as Jeff Lynne says, 'This is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’.
—  George, 1987
6

After the release of the Wilburys’ first record in 1990, I had a chance encounter with one of the Wilburys in person, George Harrison. I must admit that seeing a living, breathing Beatle caught me by surprise as George literally sat right behind me on the beach in Hana, Maui, where he had a home. As he conversed with a friend, I heard the very familiar Liverpudlian accent and then noticed I had a Beatles cassette in my bag.

When George’s friend left, I turned back to him and said, “I really appreciate all the amazing music you created with the Beatles!” To prove my point, I showed him the Beatles cassette, “Love Songs.” George stared blankly at me through sunglasses and did not respond. Fact is, “Love Songs” was not even a proper Beatles record but rather a compilation later released by Capital Records.

I should have thought of that. No wonder George ignored me. […]

Later that day, I saw him getting his car and I brought up the Traveling Wilburys and remarked on how I loved that there was a true group sound reminiscent of the Beatles. This time, George became animated and talked about how if I liked the first Wilburys’ record I would like the second one even more.

[Greg Laurie, The End of the Line, Christian Post, 23rd Oct 2017]

Various pictures of George in Hawaii with a story about someone lucky enough to meet him there once. 

Tom Petty To ‘Fresh Air’: 'The Songs Mean A Lot To People, And It Means A Lot To Me’

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.”

Petty and The Heartbreakers had a string of hits in the late '70s — including “American Girl,” “Listen To Her Heart” and “Don’t Do Me Like That” — but he told us it was his 1989 solo hit, “I Won’t Back Down,” that seemed to really resonate with his fans.

“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.”

Songs for The Losers Club

Stan ‘the man’ Uris: -’The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel

-’You Can Make Me Free’ by Billy Joel

-’Shades of Gray’ by The Monkees

-’Tomorrow is Today’ by Billy Joel

-’You’ve Got a Friend’ by James Taylor

-’Free as a Bird’ by The Beatles 

Bill Denbrough: -’The Long Run’ by The Eagles

-’Running on Empty’ by Jackson Browne

-’Amie’ by Pure Prairie League

-’I Won’t Back Down’ by Tom Petty 

-’The End of Innocence’ by Don Henley 

-’Against the Wind’ by Bob Seger 

Eddie Kaspbrak: -’Just Another Nervous Wreck’ by Supertramp

-’Here Comes The Sun’ by George Harrison

- ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by The Rolling Stones

-’Take A Giant Step’ by The Monkees

-’Come Go With Me’ by The Del-Vikings

-’End Of The Line’ by The Traveling Wilburys 

Richie ‘Trashmouth’ Tozier: -’I Started  A Joke’ by The Bee Gees

-’I Go to Extremes’ by Billy Joel

-’Everyday’ by Buddy Holly

-’Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones

-’Nobody Told Me’ by John Lennon

-’People Are Strange’ by The Doors 

Beverly Marsh: -’I am Woman’ by Helen Reddy

- ‘She’s Leaving Home’ by The Beatles

-’I Wanna Be Free’ by The Monkees

-’Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ by Pat Benatar 

-’Modern Woman’ by Billy Joel

-’Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin

Mike Hanlon: -’Smalltown’ by John Mellencamp

-’Take It Easy’ by Jackson Browne or The Eagles

-’What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong

-’Like a Rolling Stone’ by Bob Dylan

-’Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder

-’That’ll Be The Day’ by Buddy Holly

Ben Hanscom: -’The Logical Song’ by Supertramp 

-’Don’t Bring Me Down’ by Electric Light Orchestra 

-’I Will’ by The Beatles

-’I Fall to Pieces’ by Michael Nesmith and The First National Band version

-’The Waiting’ by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers 

-’You Can’t Hurry Love’ by Phill Collins 

group song: ‘Forever Young’ by Rod Stewart