7 Deadly Things About the Heartbreaker that was Tom Petty

7 Deadly Songs from Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers)


Tom Petty overcame heroin abuse

Hard times hit in the 90s. Petty’s soundtrack, She’s the One, wasn’t a commercial success, he fired longtime Heartbreakers drummer, Stan Lynch, and his 20-year marriage came to a bitter end. To deal with his pain he turned to heroin. “You start losing your soul,” he says in the book Petty: The Biography. It wasn’t long before he was hooked. “Tried to go cold turkey, and that wouldn’t work… It’s an ugly fucking thing. Really ugly. I fear that if I talk about it, people will think, ‘Well, I could do it and get off.’ But you can’t. Very few people do.”


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream

Tom Petty at the Peter Bogdanovich Premier for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down A Dream
Tom Petty’s at the New York Film Festival in Oct 2007

Peter Bogdanovich took home a Grammy for Best Music Film for his 2007 rocumentary, “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream“. Just shy of four hours it delves into stories behind the songs and battles with the music industry. The movie serves as a reminder that Tom Petty was one of the coolest guys out there who had the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and George Harrison all wanting to play with him. Watch it on Netflix.


Tom Petty was Lucky

Petty had a recurring role as the voice of Elroy “Lucky” Kleinschmidt in the animated comedy series King of the Hill from 2004 to 2009. Lucky was a redneck who lucked out when he “slipped on pee-pee at the Cosco” and won $53,000 from the lawsuit.


Tom Petty’s “American Girl” in The Silence Of The Lambs

Brooke Smith in The Silence of the Lambs singing Tom Petty's
It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.

Petty’s work has appeared in shows and movies such as The Wire, The Sopranos and The Handmaid’s Tail. But it’s that scene in Oscar-winning The Silence Of The Lambs in 1991 that his work joined the ranks of tracks that are forever linked to iconic moments in cinema. Right before Catherine Martin is abducted by Buffalo Bill she rocks out to Petty’s “American Girl” while driving home alone at night.


Tom Petty doesn’t mind The Strokes swiping his sound

The song “Last Nite” was first recorded by the Strokes and released on the band’s debut studio album Is This It in 2001. One can’t help but notice how similar the song’s opening guitar riff and overall sound is to that of “American Girl” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Petty commented, “The Strokes took ‘American Girl’, there was an interview that took place with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, ‘OK, good for you.’ It doesn’t bother me.”


Tom Petty covered a Beck classic

In 1996, Petty reunited with the Heartbreakers and released a soundtrack to the Irish-American rom-com “She’s the One” starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. Included in the album is a cover of Beck’s self-deprecating song “Asshole“.


Tom Petty’s star blazes on

Tom Petty passed away on October 2, 2017 in Santa Monica, California. Rest in peace.

Tom Petty Hollywood Star Walk of Fame


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Author: 7 Deadly Things

Voted “Best Arts & Culture Blog” by you the people (thank you!) and was a finalist in the “Blog Awards Ireland 2018.” Catch our podcast Fridays on Dublin Digital Radio 11 – 12 noon.

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