The Final Song Tom Petty Performed In Concert

Watch footage from the legendary rocker’s last concert which took place six years ago today.

By Andy Kahn Sep 25, 2023 1:54 pm PDT

When Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers concluded a 53-show tour in honor of their 40th anniversary with a performance on September 25, 2017, the show at the Hollywood Bowl ended being the final concert held by Tom Petty. The beloved rock ‘n’ roll legend died at age 66, a week after the Hollywood Bowl show.

After his death, Petty’s family explained he died from an “accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications.” The family’s statement revealed Petty performed the 53-date 40th anniversary tour with a broken hip, for which he was prescribed fentanyl patches that likely contributed to his accidental overdose. A portion of the statement from the Petty family read:

Despite this painful injury he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury. On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication.

We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.

As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.

On a positive note we now know for certain he went painlessly and beautifully exhausted after doing what he loved the most, for one last time, performing live with his unmatchable rock band for his loyal fans on the biggest tour of his 40 plus year career. He was extremely proud of that achievement in the days before he passed.

We continue to mourn with you and marvel at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers incredible positive impact on music and the world. And we thank you all for your love and support over the last months.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ concert at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25, 2017 featured a setlist made up of many of Petty’s best-known songs, like “Free Fallin’,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Learning To Fly,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Refugee” and one of the tour’s three performances of “Breakdown.”

The main set that evening ended with “Running Down A Dream.” The encore for what became Tom Petty’s final public performance started with “You Wreck Me.” Petty and his longtime bandmates ended the concert with “American Girl.”

“American Girl” was the last track on Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ 1976 self-titled debut album. At the time he wrote “American Girl,” Petty was living in Encino, California, just a short drive up the 101 from the Hollywood Bowl. In the 2005 book, Conversations With Tom Petty, the backstory for “American Girl” was detailed by Petty who told author Paul Zollo:

“I was living in an apartment where I was right by the freeway. And the cars would go by. In Encino, near Leon [Russell] ‘s house. And I remember thinking that that sounded like the ocean to me. That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by. I think that must have inspired the lyric.”

Petty also dispelled a rumor that the song was written in response to a student at the University of Florida dying by suicide from jumping from a dorm tower. Petty called the story an “urban legend,” adding:

“It’s become a huge urban myth down in Florida. That’s just not at all true. The song has nothing to do with that. But that story really gets around. And that’s happened with a lot of songs. But really extremely in that song. They’ve really got the whole story. I’ve even seen magazine articles about that story. ‘Is it true or isn’t it true?’ They could have just called me and found out it wasn’t true.”

Playing through the pain of fractured hip, Petty left it all on the stage at his final concert, hiding the injury from an adoring crowd. Prior to starting “American Girl,” Petty thanked the audience for “40 years of having a really great time.”

Watch footage of Tom Petty’s final performance below:

Kim Roberts
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (See 47 videos)


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Hollywood Bowl

  • Rockin' Around (With You)
  • Mary Jane's Last Dance
  • You Don't Know How It Feels  
  • Forgotten Man
  • I Won't Back Down  
  • Free Fallin'  
  • Breakdown
  • Don't Come Around Here No More
  • It's Good to Be King  
  • Crawling Back to You  
  • Wildflowers  
  • Learning to Fly
  • Yer So Bad  
  • I Should Have Known It
  • Refugee
  • Runnin' Down a Dream  
  • You Wreck Me  
  • American Girl
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