Legendary singer and songwriter Tom Petty suffered cardiac arrest on Monday and was reportedly rushed to the hospital. After a number of media outlets began reporting and then backtracking on Petty’s state, it was sadly confirmed by his manager that Petty had passed away in his home at the age of 66.
The American musician is best known for his 13 albums with his band The Heartbreakers, but the singer also achieved critical and commercial success as a solo artist, as well as with Mudcrutch and with supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, which included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison.
In 2002, Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame thanks to his incredible four decade career that included selling 80 million records worldwide.
Petty’s influence on rock music and songwriting is heard on the charts today, with many contemporary artists crediting Petty for inspiring their sound. Some of these artists have even covered Petty in concert.
Today, we celebrate the incredible musical legacy of Tom Petty and look at some of the best covers of the original heartbreaker.
“Free Fallin’,” Nate Ruess
During a 2015 visit to the Much studios, singer Nate Ruess hadn’t yet learned all the new songs on his album The Grand Romantic, so instead he performed a single that everyone knows and loves.
“Breakdown,” Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters have covered a handful of Tom Petty songs over the years, including “Dear Rosemary,” “Honey Bee,” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” The band are such devoted fans of Petty they even got to play with the legendary musician for the 40th anniversary special of SNL. The famous stage at 30 Rock acted as a reunion, with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers recruiting Dave Grohl to play with them on SNL in 1994 when they were in-between drummers. Grohl, who’s band Nirvana had just disbanded after the death of Kurt Cobain, was reportedly offered a permanent spot in The Heartbreakers, but Grohl turned them down and started the Foo Fighters, remaining a lifelong fan.
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” Haim, Foo Fighters and Stevie Nicks
The Foos aren’t the only huge Tom Petty fans. Haim have often spoken about their love for the great Tom Petty, so we can only imagine how thrilled they were to perform Petty and Stevie Nick’s huge 1981 hit “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with the Foo Fighters and Nicks herself.
“Won’t Back Down,” Imagine Dragons
Las Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons have become international superstars thanks to their inspiring, anthemic ballads, so should come as no surprise that they have a soft spot for Petty’s uplifting 1989 hit “Won’t Back Down.”
“Walls,” The Lumineers
During their Cleopatra World Tour, The Lumineers added Tom Petty’s 1996 single “Walls” to their set list. The folk rockers made the song their own and added an additional element of sadness to the haunting track.
“Free Fallin’,” John Mayer
Since the early days of his career touring college campuses, John Mayer has made Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” a staple of many of his live shows. Mayer’s slow delivery of the 1989 single from Full Moon Fever allows the listener more time to concentrate on the sadness and hope in Petty’s lyrics, which are poetry set to guitar strings.
“Don’t Come Around Here No More,” Bleachers
Most bands and artists have a go-to cover song for concerts and radio performances and for Bleachers, that song has been Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” The band found the same drum machine Petty used for the original in order to deliver a pitch-perfect tribute to the song.
“American Girl,” Tom Petty and Eddie Vedder
In 2012, Pearl Jam and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were all on tour in Amsterdam and decided to treat concert goers to a once in a lifetime experience. Lead singer Eddie Vedder had no problem hanging with Petty and co., especially since Pearl Jam had covered the band’s songs in concert.