When Florida native Tom Petty was ten years old, his uncle invited him to watch a movie shoot where he was working on the set. The film, Follow That Dream featured Elvis Presley and the young Petty had the opportunity to meet the star. From that point on he was a fan and it was not long after that he decided he too wanted to be a rock star.

First came the Epics, then Mudcrutch and when that group broke up in 1975, Petty pursued a solo career with a backing band, the Heartbreakers. Their first self-titled album saw modest success in the US but found greater traction in the UK. Their first single Breakdown failed to make much of an impact initially, but it was re-released a year later and worked its way into the US top 40 on the second try.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers saw each album sell better than its predecessor throughout the remainder of the 70s and the 80s. In 1988 Petty joined George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne to form the Traveling Wilburys for what was intended to be a one-off recording session to produce a B side for a Harrison single. The result was too good and the supergroup went on to record two albums. Petty incorporated song of the songs into his live show for several following tours.

Petty and the Heartbreakers entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and in 2017 the band embarked on a 40th anniversary tour which ended in September at the Hollywood Bowl. In early October Petty was found unconscious in his home and died later that day.