"Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty" (born October 20, 1950) is a popular American musician, known for his album-oriented, classicist rock'n'roll. He has also produced numerous hit singles, such as "American Girl", "Free Fallin'", "Into the Great Wide Open" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance", most of which remain heavily played on mainstream radio. Despite this success, Petty is also a vocal critic of the modern recording industry, and the disintegration of independent radio stations.
Petty has been supported by his band, The Heartbreakers, for the majority of his career. He has occasionally released solo work, as is the case with his most recent effort, 2006's ''Highway Companion'', on which he performed most of the backing instrumentation himself.
Tom Petty, known in his early years as "Tommy", was born in Gainesville, Florida and grew up in northeast Gainesville. As a teen-aged, amateur musician he often practiced at home with friends and sometimes even in the family fall-out shelter located in his back yard. Petty graduated from Gainesville High School in 1968. Petty did not have any musical aspirations until Elvis Presley came to Ocala, F...