Tom Petty: Highlights from four decades in rock'n'roll
To reduce a highly influential, respected body of work — one that spanned four decades — into a definitive list would be a little hard.
Instead, here are five choice cuts from the career of Tom Petty, who has died at the age of 66 after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California.
Petty had a slew of hits in the 70s and 80s with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. He was also a member of The Traveling Wilburys, a super-group featuring Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Roy Orbison.
His work with Heartbreakers, particularly on early albums like Damn The Torpedoes and You're Gonna Get It!, swung more towards classic rock; his voice on radio hit 'Refugee' is strained in the tradition of 70s guitar bands.
The record went to number two on the US Billboard charts — bested only by Pink Floyd's The Wall — and received critical praise.
The Traveling Wilburys, and some of Petty's later solo work, you'd probably file under country — it had a much stronger southern American sensibility.
Henry Wagons, a musician and the host of Tower of Song on Double J, said the Wilburys were a precursor to the Americana genre now associated with musicians like Wilco and Ryan Adams.
"Tom Petty was playing this Americana music before the genre even existed," he told the ABC.
"He helped pave that road in between southern rock, twang and country and classic rock and roll and he walked that tightrope like no-one else."
As much as Petty was a songwriters' songwriter — how else do you get to be in a band with Dylan, Orbison and a former Beatle? — he found massive popular success, selling more than 80 million records worldwide.
His later work with The Heartbreakers was more polished, and probably more radio-friendly.
'Runnin' Down A Dream', from his 1989 album Full Moon Fever, showcased his knack for melody.
Petty's commitment to the heartland — the stories of regular hopes and dreams that formed the backbone of some of his major hits — saw his songwriting compared to Springsteen's.
It probably also contributed his reach and ability to shift units.
"He was observational, he was funny, he was wry, he was intelligent," Wagons said. "And an incredibly smart, perceptive songwriter."
'Free Fallin'', also from Full Moon Fever, which is considered his first proper solo album without The Heartbreakers, is probably one of his most recognisable songs, and it has that "real-America" feel.
'She's a good girl, loves her Mama,' Petty sings. 'Loves Jesus and America too.'
Petty's influence was wide-ranging, beyond Americana and classic rock.
The first time R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Michael Stipe played with a drummer and bass player behind them — while Buck was auditioning to join a band Stipe was in at the time — they jammed on Petty's 'I Need To Know'.
"I think, because he had so many hit singles and was so famous for so long, people kinda take for granted that he was actually doing really great work," Buck told Double J's Karen Leng.
"He was a master of writing catchy hooks. He wrote really personal songs in a way that everyone could listen to them and relate to them."