Renowned rock ‘n’ roll musician Tom Petty unexpectedly died of a heart attack at the age of 66 earlier this. As the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers frontman Petty’s string of hit records propelled the Gainesville, Florida native to be counted among the top rock songwriters and performers of all time.
This edition of Sunday Cinema looks back at an integral component of Petty’s career with a focus on his and the band’s most memorable music videos. Whether starring himself or enlisting celebrity actors and actresses in leading roles, Petty & The Heartbreakers’ music videos in the 1980s and 1990s were groundbreaking productions for the format at the time growing in popularity thanks to the introduction of MTV.
Petty wrote a score for the intro to the video for 1982’s “You Got Lucky,” which was one of the first instances of that later repeated technique. Petty would later credit this video for helping the band see the potential MTV and videos had in growing their popularity. Watch Petty and The Heartbreakers – Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch and Ron Blair appearing in the post-apocalyptic footage below:
Dave Stewart co-wrote and co-produced the single “Don’t Come Around Here No More” from the 1985 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album Southern Accents. The Eurythmics multi-instrumentalist also appeared in the video for the track, playing the role of the caterpillar from Alice In Wonderland. Lewis Carroll’s book served as the inspiration for the notorious video that saw Petty playing the Mad Hatter and consuming a cake made of Alice. Give it a look here:
Mall culture, skateboarding and other totally 1980s-style identifiers are present throughout the video for 1989’s “Free Fallin,’” which starred actress Devon Kidd. The video is a time capsule of the era dotted with scenes from Southern California. Check it out below:
Actor Johnny Depp portrayed the fictitious Eddie Rebel character in the video for 1991’s “Into The Great Wide Open.” Petty makes several cameos along with the other Heartbreakers as Depp’s Rebel character move to Hollywood in pursuit of a successful rock career. Actresses Faye Dunaway and Gabrielle Anwar also played a prominent roles in the short, which once again was shot in various Los Angeles locations. Stick around to the end for a cameo by a pre-Friends star Matt LeBlanc:
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” was first released as the lone new track on the 1993 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits album. The decision to have included the new song now appears rather prescient following its current instant classic status. The macabre video stars actress Kim Basinger as a deceased woman whom a morgue employee played by Petty ties to resurrect. Watch the Keir McFarlane-directed video below:
Billed as a Tom Petty solo album, 1994’s Wildflowers nonetheless featured contributions from all of the Heartbreakers, including bassist Howie Epstein (who replaced Blair in 1982) and drummer Steve Ferrone who would later replace Lynch. Directed by Phil Joanou, the rotating single camera, single shot set up saw Petty staring into the camera while delivering a performance of the song while bizarre chaos enues in the background. View the video here: