Tom Petty was among the all-time rock ‘n’ roll songwriting talents and his unexpected death this week at age 66 cut short an already legendary career. Petty not only wrote some of rock’s most memorable and relatable songs, he and his equally talented band The Heartbreakers were a truly outstanding live act throughout their four decades performing around the world together.
This edition of Saturday Stream presents a chronologically laid out collection of live recordings from throughout Petty’s illustrious career. It begins with a song from a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert held in 1978 and concludes 81 tracks later with four songs from their 2013 tour.
The Heartbreakers lineup of Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch remained constant from their 1976 inception through Blair’s departure in 1982. Howie Epstein maintained the bass role until Blair returned ahead of Epstein’s untimely death in 2003. Multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston was brought into the group in 1991 and Steve Ferrone replaced Lynch in 1994. The various lineups can be heard playing Petty classic hits such as “American Girl,” “Breakdown,” “Refugee,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Learning To Fly,” “Free Fallin,’” “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” are included in the live collection. There are also cover performances of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil,” Little Feat’s “Willin,'” Booker T. & The M.G.’s “Green Onions,” the James Bond theme “Goldfinger” and others.
The Heartbreakers and Petty toured as Bob Dylan’s backing band in the mid-1980s and they can be heard supporting the legend at his 1992 30th anniversary celebration concert at Madison Square Garden. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002 and their performance from that year’s ceremony, as well as Petty teaming with CSN at the event, made the playlist.
Petty’s time in the Traveling Wilburys is represented by a performance of “Handle With Care” from the 2004 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony. His participation that night in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Prince stealing the show is also included in the playlist. The set also features Petty’s pre-Heartbreakers group Mudcrutch on four live cuts from 2008.