Tom Petty inspired a lifetime's love of music

Readers share what Tom Petty meant to them.

Readers share what Tom Petty meant to them.

Inspiration for a lifetime’s love of music - Kevin Field

Those who know me well will know how much I love music. However even those who are really close to me won't know who it was that sparked that love.

As a young teenager, a sneering, snarling voice leapt out of the speakers demanding that I didn't have to live like a refugee. I must have been about 13 when Refugee came out and I was instantly hooked. All of a sudden, a whole world of music was out there for me. I have Tom Petty to thank for that.

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I felt empowered to explore new stuff and in the next few years discovered Joy Division, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Husker Du and many, many other bands. I was able to pass on the passion I had for music to younger relatives.

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A few years later, Tom's music came back into my radar with Full Moon Fever. This remains one of my favourite albums of all time. I played it constantly and never lost the love of the album. We had the anthology and listened to that many times, curiously enough in the car. Tom was great company on a road trip.

A couple of years ago I picked up Wildflowers, an album that strangely bypassed me. Then a few weeks ago I picked up Damn the Torpedoes for the first time on vinyl. There was a nod to that teenager who picked up that album many times but didn't have enough money to spare.

Today I feel a greater loss than I have for quite a while. I thought of the energy of Refugee. The soaring Free Fallin'. The ultimate driving song Running down dream. The perfect American rock song The Waiting. I unwrapped my new copy of Damn the Torpedoes and remembered someone who meant a lot to me.

Rock in peace, Tom Petty - Rob White

Back in the day I got to interview Tom Petty during his tour with Bob Dylan in NZ. Tom was languidly lying on his hotel bed strumming a guitar, and when I asked him about touring with Dylan, he kept glancing at the connecting door.

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I realised Dylan was probably in the room next door. That was virtually confirmed as Dylan and Petty's manager kept popping in and out of Petty's room while I interviewed Tom. Each time the manager came back into the room he would nod at Petty as if to say Mr Zimmerman was fine.

Petty was very courteous, with a Southern gentleman drawl, and politely answered my questions but only became animated when he started to talk about classic guitars.

He also talked about Stevie Nicks who, if I remember rightly, was guesting in his show and Tom kept grinning the whole time he talked about her - not sure why.

Anyway, when Petty and the band were on stage they blew us all away. I always liked his all-American music and his Byrds-image (cool glasses).

RIP (Rock in Peace), Tom Petty.

Tom Petty gave me a sense of freedom - Bo Anderson

What song stands out for me the most? Learning to Fly. I was a teen when this song was in the charts, and I loved it. I know the words off by heart!

It reminds me of making my own decisions and learning to grow up. At the time it was summery and I felt young, free and happy. When I hear the song I feel good inside.

I played Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers over and over on my tape recorder. RIP, and thank you for the nice memories!

Thanks for bringing America to NZ - Eric Lawson

"God it's so painful when something that's so close, is still so far out of reach."

I nearly cried when I heard. Thanks Mr Petty, you brought a little bit of America to this side of the world in the dim dark musical age of 1970s NZ.

You were a beacon that screamed out that "After all it was a great big world, with lots of places to run to."

Thank you a thousand times. I treasure the memories of being 16, with two-litre flagons and Damn the Torpedoes. Go in peace to that corner of heaven reserved for great musicians.

 - Stuff Nation


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