Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty (born October 20, 1950) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was a founding member of the late 1980s supergroup Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch. He has also performed under the pseudonyms of Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. and Muddy Wilbury.
Shortly after forming his musical aspirations, Petty started a band known as the Epics, later to evolve into Mudcrutch. After Mudcrutch split up, Petty reluctantly agreed to pursue a solo career. Along with former Mudcrutch members Mike Campbell and Benmont Trench, Petty formed a backing band known as the Heartbreakers.
They released their first self-titled album in 1976. Their second album, “You're Gonna Get It!,” (1978) marked the band's first Top 40 album and featured the singles "I Need to Know" and "Listen To Her Heart". Their third album, “Damn the Torpedoes” (1979), quickly went platinum, selling nearly two million copies; it includes their breakthrough singles "Don't Do Me Like That", "Here Comes My Girl" and "Refugee.” 1981's “Hard Promises” became a top-ten hit, going platinum and spawning the hit single "The Waiting".
In 1988, Petty became a founding member of the Traveling Wilburys, along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. Their album “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1” featured the single "Handle With Care." The album reached #16 in the UK and an impressive #3 in the US. With over fifty weeks on the charts, the album was later certified triple-platinum.
In 1989, Petty released “Full Moon Fever,” which featured hits "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin'" and "Runnin' Down a Dream". It was nominally his first solo album, although several Heartbreakers and other well-known musicians participated.
Petty & the Heartbreakers reformed in 1991 and released “Into the Great Wide Open,” which included the hit singles "Learning To Fly" and "Into The Great Wide Open."
Before leaving MCA Records, Tom and the Heartbreakers got together to record, live in the studio, two new songs for a "Greatest Hits" package. "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air". The package went on to sell over ten million copies, therefore receiving diamond certification by the RIAA.
His first album on Warner Bros. Records, 1994's “Wildflowers” (Petty's 2nd of 3 solo albums), included the singles "You Don't Know How It Feels", "You Wreck Me," "It's Good to Be King" and "A Higher Place". The album, produced by Rick Rubin, sold approximately 2.5 million copies in the U.S.
2002's “The Last DJ” included several attacks on the music industry, criticizing it for greed, watering down music, and releasing pop music made by scantily-clad young women and reached number 9 on the U.S. charts.
In July 2006, Petty released a new solo album titled “Highway Companion,” which included the hit "Saving Grace". It debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, becoming Petty's highest chart position since the introduction of the Nielsen SoundScan system for tracking album sales in 1991.
Petty and the Heartbreakers released “Mojo” in 2010 which debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling 125,000 copies in its first week of release. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Rock Albums chart as well.