Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker: An Unmatched Understanding...

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Two Against Nature: The Bromance of Steely Dan

 Libby Cudmore
Vinyl Me Please
1 November 17th 2016

There is no perhaps no friendship in rock & roll more enduring than that of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Since first meeting at Bard College in 1966, the duo have spent the majority of the last 50 years side by side, first pounding the pavement outside the Brill Building selling songs, then later in the studio or out on tour.

But their partnership defies the modern adages of #SquadGoals or BFFs. "Walter and Donald are one person with two brains," former Steely Dan guitarist Denny Dias told Rolling Stone in 2000. "When you put them together, the result has an edge, but it's also got insight and compassion."

When their counterparts were writing about girls and drugs, Fagen and Becker were writing tunes celebrating the quiet dignity of male friendships (as well as girls, and drugs, and drug dealers and child molesters and pimps and time travel...). Nothing showy, nothing dramatic. No one is going to write gooey slash fan-fiction about them. But you don't spend 50 years alongside someone you don't respect on a deeply artistic level, and one only has to listen to a handful of songs to realize that Becker and Fagen have an unmatched understanding of the unspoken emotional intimacy between men, and it shows up again and again in their music.

In the opening verse of "Midnite Cruiser" (Can't Buy a Thrill) former vocalist David Palmer sings, "So glad that you're here again/for one more time, let your madness run with mine," but Alex Wilkenson described a scene in the studio that brings the lyrics to life: "...Fagen would sit at the piano and play a slow blues, and Becker would pick up his guitar and play along with him, and because they were separated by twenty or thirty feet it would take a moment to realize that they were reenacting a scene from thirty years ago in the common room at Bard."

"King of The World" (Countdown to Ecstasy) is a classified ad seeking a friend for the apocalypse. Not a last lay, not someone to roll for their last supplies, just someone to chill with.

There isn't time for emotional drama or romance when the world is crumbling all around, but there's always time for a cigarette and a drive across the California wasteland. And while 1986 was hardly the end of the world, after a studio session for ex-model Rosie Vela's 1986 album Zazu, the two, who had reconnected by chance in producer Gary Katz's studio, walked home together over 60 blocks in the neon New York night.

"Any Major Dude Will Tell You." (Pretzel Logic) "I've never seen you lookin' so bad my funky one..." When Becker was recovering from drug addiction in Hawaii in the 80s, Fagen said he would go to New York City jazz clubs, get the performers to autograph a napkin "To Walter" and mail them to his partner. The two communicated regularly by phone, but Fagen's quiet gesture was a reminder that he still had his friend's back in a way that words couldn't fulfill. It's the real-life practice of what they wrote in 1974 -- "Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again." When recounting this story to Wilkenson in 2000, Becker acknowledged the gifts with three words: "I didn't die."

While not technically a Steely Dan song, "Snowbound" (Kamakiriad) finds Fagen sharing writing credit with Becker 13 years after the breakup of Steely Dan. Becker produced the album and Fagen credits him with helping break a nearly decade-long writer's block. "Nobody can make a transition from chord to chord like Walter," he said about the recording of Kamakiriad in 1993. The song, follows an unnamed narrator and pal partying on a frozen landscape, references, "Let's stop off at the Metroplex/That little dancer's got some style/Yes she's the one I'll be waiting for/At the stage door," probably not an activity you'd do with your wife in tow. But it ends with the ominous line (reportedly Fagen's favorite from the album) "We sail our icecats on the frozen river/Some loser fires off a flare, amen/For seven seconds it's like Christmas day/And then it's dark again." It would be another seven years before the world got to see Steely Dan back together, so the darkness didn't last long.

"Two Against Nature" (Two Against Nature) isn't about a couple growing old together. It's about Becker and Fagen, fighting side-by-side against the increasingly distorted fracture of time and radio hits. It's a voodoo love song of sorts, a polyrhythmic recognition that sometimes in this world, you're lucky to find one person who understands the language you speak and for the remainder of your time here, it's the two of you against the tide. "It's more fun to work with someone you know," Fagen said. "We crack each other up...we almost talk in code at this point." The album won them four Grammys in 2000, beating out the considerably younger competition and was a frequent number on 2016's "The Dan Who Knew Too Much" tour. Squad Goals indeed.

By contrast, the majority of the women of Steely Dan songs fall into three distinct categories, none of them particularly affectionate. Distant objects of unattainable desire (Josie, Peg, Rikki, Pixaleen) disappointing goddesses (The girls of "Hey Nineteen," "Babylon Sisters," "Lunch With Gina" and, near the end, "Janie Runaway") or unfaithful spouses ("My Rival," "Haitian Divorce," "Everything You Did"). To the protagonist of a Steely Dan song, relationships with women, though beautiful and wanted, are unable to provide the stability such a man craves. At the end of the day--or the end of the world--it's your friend you want by your side.

In concert, they enter from separate sides of the stage, Becker from the left, Fagen from the right. They don't hug, they barely make eye contact. But there are moments, when Fagen gets out the melodica on "Godwhacker" or "Aja" or "Peg" and Becker is playing guitar, that they stand side-by-side in the well-worn space of two comfortable souls. And near the end of the night, Becker, always the more talkative of the two, introduces Fagen as any number of descriptors -- hitmaker, producer, man about town, the one, the only, the original -- but always "my friend."

Monday, 16 October 2017

Bessie Smith - George Melly and Ken Clarke pay tribute

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Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats - Bessie Smith
Born in abject poverty and killed in a car crash aged 43, Bessie Smith forged a new jazz sound. Ken Clarke and George Melly pay tribute. From January 2004.

Available to listen to here for another 27 days - though you have to make a (free) account and sign in...

Friday, 13 October 2017

Wednesday night's set list at Grumpy's Bar and Grill, Seattle

At Grumpy's Bar and Grill, Ballard, Seattle:-

I'm Just A Loser
You've Got A Friend

Head still somewhere over the Atlantic. Surprised by a player singing a medley including King Crimson's Epitaph.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Monday, 9 October 2017

Sherman Alexie discusses You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

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Sherman Alexie's New Book Is An Emotional Memoir About His Mother
Sherman Alexie has often turned to his childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation for inspiration. Now, he looks at the life of his mother in a memoir called You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

Morning Edition
20 June 2017

Sherman Alexie won a National Book Award for "The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian." It was a novel, and it sprang from his experiences living on and leaving the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state. Now Alexie has gone straight to nonfiction with a raw, emotional memoir about his mother. Here's our own David Greene.

DAVID GREENE: To understand Sherman Alexie's tense, messy, infuriating relationship with his mother, you have to know this. They once didn't talk for three years. It wasn't like they were estranged. They spent time together and still didn't talk. Alexie can't remember why. He does remember vividly that moment from his childhood when a beloved cousin was murdered over the last swig of alcohol in a bottle. He wept and wept until his mom just told him to shut up.

It was Lillian Alexie, though, who kept the family going while Sherman's own father went off drinking. She earned money. She stayed up nights making these beautiful, handmade quilts. And when you open this new book, called "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me," one of those lovingly made quilts is the first thing you see.

SHERMAN ALEXIE: The endpapers of the book are actually the quilt my mother made for my wedding to my wife.

GREENE: That must have made the first time you saw the book in hardcover very special.

ALEXIE: I've never cried looking at my book so often (laughter). I imagine I'm going to spend the whole summer doing iMessage, iChat therapy (laughter) with my psychiatrist.

GREENE: Sherman Alexie does try to make sense of conflicting emotions. And his book reflects that tension. It veers from prose to poetry. Here's Alexie reading from one of his poems written not long after his mother's death in 2015. It's called "Lasting Rites."

ALEXIE: (Reading) I assumed I'd be freed from my mother and her endless accusations, falsehoods, exaggerations and deceptions. But looking at this book, I was obviously mistaken because my mother continues to scare the [expletive] out of me.

GREENE: And it's not just the memories that scare him. He says he's still literally haunted by her.

ALEXIE: Because I'm bipolar, because I'm obsessive compulsive, because I'm an alphabet soup of mental illness acronyms, I see things. I see ghosts. I don't believe in ghosts. I see them all the time. And so my mother kept appearing in my vision. I'd see her in my peripheral vision in the supermarket. I'd be trying to find which apples I wanted, and my mom would be looking at me, judging my apple-picking ability. So...

GREENE: That doesn't sound fun to have a ghost constantly judging you.

ALEXIE: No, not at all.

Well, I mean, you write about how Lillian Alexie was just beloved in the community.

Well, she was revered by many, but she was also reviled by many in our tribe for many of the same reasons she and I had a difficult relationship. Over the years, she founded the youth club on the reservation. She founded the senior citizens organization. She was the drug and alcohol treatment counselor. So at her funeral, one of my cousins got up, and he talks about how she was so generous but she was also so mean, and that she's probably scolding Jesus in heaven for playing the wrong welcoming song.


But in talking about the book these last few weeks, I'm realizing that what I've written - it's a memoir. It's about me and my mother, but it's also, on one level, the biography of a great, complicated human being with all this unrealized potential. You know, my mom's face is on the cover. But I'm realizing this could be the kind of book, you know, called Roosevelt, or Churchill, Jefferson - and that because she's only - and I put that in heavy quotation marks - Native American woman from a small tribe in a small place, her greatness in that place went unrecognized. She should have led the tribe. She never did.

You know, what comes to mind is when you wrote that if she'd come back to life and you could ask her one question, it would be was there ever a moment in your life when you felt powerful.

You know, indigenous women in Canada and United States are the single most vulnerable people in terms of domestic violence, in terms of assault, in terms of murder. And my mother was not spared from feeling that powerless against the world - not only against whiteness and colonialism, but against some of the villains inside our own tribe.

So I don't know if she ever had a chance to feel good about herself. You know, in one of the poems in the book, I talk about if I could time travel, I wish I could go back and be her parent. And maybe if I could go back and adore her as a good parent to a good child, then maybe that would have taught her how to be adoring more consistently. I don't know that she was ever adored.

I feel like, being someone myself who had a complicated relationship with my mother, there is something universal here when it comes to these kinds of relationships.

You know, one of the things I'm doing at the readings is I will ask the crowd to raise their hand if they had a bad mother. And very few people have raised their hand. So I think culturally speaking, it's incredibly difficult for people to speak about having a bad mother. And I think it's even more difficult for a man to say it.

I mean, I was so terrified, and I'm still terrified, of the ways in which I might be accused of misogyny. I mean, because the guilt and the shame and the self-judgment I feel even now talking about her, talking about the ways in which I failed her is enormous. Because the thing is, regardless of how bad a mother she could be, at some point in my adulthood, I actively became a bad son.

In what way?

ALEXIE: I became responsible for my actions and my own emotions. I did not do enough to even try to reconcile with her, to try to forgive her, to try to talk about it. We never had this conversation that this book has in equal parts self-protection but also about revenge, about vindictiveness. I think as much as this book reveals how complicated and difficult and terrible my mother could be, it also reveals how difficult and complicated and terrible I can be.

Sherman Alexie, it is - it's always such a pleasure talking to you. We really appreciate it.

ALEXIE: Well, thank you, David.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Tom Petty

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Tom Petty’s Remarkable Stand Against the Confederate Flag
Remembering the anomalous rock ’n’ roll icon, who died late Monday following a heart attack at the age of 66.

Stereo Williams
The Daily Beast
3 October 2017

“Rock and roll songs are just cheap shit—nothing deeper than that.” — Tom Petty

Tom Petty seemed to embody something that has always been perfect about rock ’n’ roll music. The spirit of the songs, at its purest, is one of freedom and unpretentiousness. It’s there in Chuck Berry’s odes to adolescent thrills, the nervous energy of Eddie Cochran, and the aching earnestness of Roy Orbison. And it’s there throughout the best songs from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Petty’s shocking death at age 66 stunned music fans because for the better part of 40-plus years, Tom Petty has felt like a musical institution. Unlike so many longstanding acts that approach such reverence, Petty’s music and persona carried a certain relatability. Whereas Bruce Springsteen brought working man-ism to near-operatic heights of drama and pathos, Petty seemed to wring truth out of simpler ambitions.

Petty’s early sound was most conveniently described as “new wave” to fit with the times but it didn’t have the urbane slant of English acts like Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson, and it lacked the obnoxious bite of East Coast-based bands like Blondie and The Cars. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers specialized in a kind of rural New Wave that sounded more indebted to The Byrds than The Stooges.

Growing up in Gainesville, Florida, music was the young Petty’s refuge from a domineering, abusive father who despised Tom’s sensitivity and creative tendencies—but would later glom on to his son’s rock-star fame for status.

In the early 1970s, Tom formed his band, originally called The Epics, eventually changed to Mudcrutch, and finally, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (after Mudcrutch broke up following some failed 1975 singles). Even in forming The Heartbreakers, Petty was teaming with Mudcrutch holdovers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, alongside fellow Gainesville natives in drummer Stan Lynch and Ron Blair on bass.

Even through the end of Mudcrutch and formation of The Heartbreakers, there was a certain ethos that would form a foundation for the early days of Petty’s career and serve as guiding principles even decades later: a brotherhood with his bandmates in The Heartbreakers, and a defiant belief in the power of artistry and vision.

Producer Denny Cordell would famously sway the band after they’d agreed to sign with London Records, convincing them to sign with Cordell’s Shelter Records after they stopped in Tulsa at his offices on their way to the London signing in Los Angeles. “At the end of the day, he wasn’t going for the biggest deal he could possibly get,” Cordell said in the ’90s. “But he was going for the chance to make good records.” Shelter was co-founded by Tulsa native Leon Russell, and the label released Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 1975. The album flopped in America, but the band was a hit in the U.K.

Petty famously fought back against his label after Shelter Records’ distributor ABC Records was sold to MCA and he realized how much he was losing in a publishing deal he’d said he was forced to sign under duress. “My songs had been taken away from me before I even knew what publishing was,” Petty would later recall. And to free himself from the deal he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, an unprecedented approach to battling his record company. Such a bold tactic meant that Petty wasn’t just fighting his label MCA; he was in a battle against the record business itself.

As he and Cordell’s relationship dissolved and The Heartbreakers’ second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, foundered, the battle raged in the media. The Heartbreakers embarked on “The Lawsuit Tour” and sold merchandise that included “Why MCA?” T-shirts.

“As soon as they thought my action might set an industry precedent,” Petty told Rolling Stone in 1980, “they rolled out the big guns. That’s when I realized these guys were mean. It was like they were after me just because I had the potential to do something. For that, they would destroy me—fuck up my brain to where I couldn’t do it anymore—before they’d let me do it for anyone else.”

Damn the Torpedoes (1979) would be Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ first platinum-selling album, but with status came another headache. Petty once again found himself at odds with the industry after realizing MCA was planning to sell his fourth album Hard Promises at a then-staggering $9.98, “Superstar Pricing” that was designed to make up for financial losses labels were enduring in the late 1970s. Petty fought against the price hike and won the hearts of fans, as Hard Promises would also be a platinum-seller.

Petty established himself as the sort of authentic rock artist whose ethics seemed almost antiquated at the dawn of the MTV era and amid the excesses of the 1980s. As punk, funk, and New Wave gave way to hair metal and dance pop, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers stayed surprisingly fresh in changing times.

The video for their 1982 single “You Got Lucky” featured a Mad Max-inspired, apocalyptic storyline, evidence that the group wasn’t as resistant to the music video format as many of their peers. This would be more evident by 1985, with the release of the popular Alice in Wonderland-themed visual for “Don’t Come Around Here No More”—a synth-driven hit by Petty and co-written and co-produced with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” was a major hit from the Heartbreakers’ 1985 Southern Accents album, but the LP was a source of tension within the band. Accents had originally been conceived as a concept record about Southern culture, but the inclusion of Stewart muddied the theme. Nonetheless, on the Southern Accents Tour, Petty included merchandise and stage dressing that prominently featured the Confederate flag. It was a move he would come to regret.

“The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida,” Petty would say in 2015. “I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn’t give it much thought, though I should have.”

“In 1985, I released an album called Southern Accents. It began as a concept record about the South, but the concept part slipped away probably 70 percent or so into the album. I just let it go, but the Confederate flag became part of the marketing for the tour. I wish I had given it more thought. It was a downright stupid thing to do.”

A sticking point for Petty was when fans began to bring Confederate flags to shows. In 2010, Fred Mills of BLURT recalled seeing Petty live in 1990 (with Lenny Kravitz opening, no less) when a fan tossed a Confederate flag onstage.

“A certain yahoo element had already been making its presence in the crowd known, emitting whoops and raising beer cups whenever Petty would make a regional reference. It was starting to feel like a NASCAR rally in the arena. Now, as the band eased into the song’s signature piano intro, somebody tossed a folded-up object onto the stage,” said Mills. “Petty walked over, picked it up, and started unfolding it: a rebel flag, symbol of the Confederacy—and of a whole lot more. He froze, uncertain as to what he should do. Well, wave it proudly at all your fellow Southerners, you could almost hear the collective thought ripple through the air. Instead, Petty walked back to the mic, still holding the flag, and slowly began to speak, talking about how on the Southern Accents Tour a few years ago they’d included a Confederate flag as part of the stage set, but since then he’d been thinking about it and decided that it had been a mistake because he understood maybe it wasn’t just a rebel image to some folks. As a low rumble of boos and a few catcalls came out of the crowd, Petty carefully wadded the flag up and concluded, ‘So we don’t do’—nodding at the flag—‘this anymore.’ Glaring at it one last time and then chucking it back down, he glanced at the band then launched directly into the next song.”

Petty’s success in the late 1980s with the multiplatinum Full Moon Fever (his first official solo album) and the Traveling Wilburys made him one of the more venerated “elders” of the MTV generation, and it also emphasized Petty as a conduit that connected three musical generations of rock. Even as pop culture became dominated by grunge and gangsta rap in the 1990s, there was Tom Petty, consistently charting with hit singles like “Into the Great Wide Open” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” And he and The Heartbreakers had toured with Bob Dylan, played with Johnny Cash, and written hits with George Harrison and Roy Orbison. Even his most famous producers—Jimmy Iovine, Jeff Lynne, and Rick Rubin—represented entirely different generations and approaches to rock music.

In the 2000s, Petty continued to rankle the suits—albeit more as a cantankerous elder statesman than brash upstart—most notably on 2002’sThe Last DJ, which railed against commercial radio and the hollowness of the modern music industry. And he and The Heartbreakers continued as one of rock’s most successful institutions. Along the way, there had been scars (the 1994 firing of Stan Lynch, Petty’s 1996 divorce from his first wife Jane, and Howie Epstein’s death in 2003 from a heroin overdose) but Tom Petty seemed to be a permanent fixture in the musical firmament, forever playing a gig and reminding fans everywhere just how many of his songs had been a part of their lives.

Tom Petty’s journey came to an unexpected end on Oct. 2, and it may be hard for some to recognize why this old rocker meant so much to so many people across so many generations. Tom Petty was possessed of the kind of easygoing coolness that you took for granted until it was staring you in the face, his songs sounded simple but burst with ideas and subtext, and his band was fucking sick without ever seeming showy. He was ballsy enough to do things his way and honest enough to admit when his way had been flat-out wrong. We’ll always have the songs. But man… we are really going to miss having him.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Dead Poets Society #53

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Libert√© by Paul √Čluard

On my school notebooks
On my desk and on the trees
On the sands of snow
I write your name

On the pages I have read
On all the white pages
Stone, blood, paper or ash
I write your name

On the images of gold
On the weapons of the warriors
On the crown of the king
I write your name

On the jungle and the desert
On the nest and on the brier
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On all my scarves of blue
On the moist sunlit swamps
On the living lake of moonlight
I write your name

On the fields, on the horizon
On the birds’ wings
And on the mill of shadows
I write your name

On each whiff of daybreak
On the sea, on the boats
On the demented mountaintop
I write your name

On the froth of the cloud
On the sweat of the storm
On the dense rain and the flat
I write your name

On the flickering figures
On the bells of colors
On the natural truth
I write your name

On the high paths
On the deployed routes
On the crowd-thronged square
I write your name

On the lamp which is lit
On the lamp which isn’t
On my reunited thoughts
I write your name

On a fruit cut in two
Of my mirror and my chamber
On my bed, an empty shell
I write your name

On my dog, greathearted and greedy
On his pricked-up ears
On his blundering paws
I write your name

On the latch of my door
On those familiar objects
On the torrents of a good fire
I write your name

On the harmony of the flesh
On the faces of my friends
On each outstretched hand
I write your name

On the window of surprises
On a pair of expectant lips
In a state far deeper than silence
I write your name

On my crumbled hiding-places
On my sunken lighthouses
On my walls and my ennui
I write your name

On abstraction without desire
On naked solitude
On the marches of death
I write your name

And for the want of a word
I renew my life
For I was born to know you
To name you


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
The River
Suspicious Minds

Da Elderly: -
In The Morning Light
Once An Angel

The Elderly Brothers (Set 1): -
The Price Of Love
Handle Me With Care
You Got It
You Really Got A Hold On Me

The Elderly Brothers (Set 2): -
Bring It On Home To Me
Then I Kissed Her
I Saw Her Standing There

Another rainy night in Georgia.....maybe so, but it was heaving it down in York! The bar was quiet to start with, but it filled up as the night wore on. There were fewer players than normal so folks got a second set. We dedicated Handle Me With Care to Tom Petty and virtually everyone joined in on the chorus. During The Price Of Love a rather rotund gentleman who had been over served, collapsed onto Ron's mike stand! It took four of his companions to lift him - don't think he felt a thing as he was smiling soon afterwards. Despite this sudden intervention, "the band played on" to much applause and merriment. Our second set closed the open mic session. The after-show party continued unplugged until closing time and a splendid time was had by all.

P.S. an impending holiday will mean no more Elderly Brothers' posts for a short while. See you in November.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Tom Petty RIP

Another post I'd rather not have to make...

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Tom Petty, Heartbreakers frontman who sang 'Breakdown,' 'Free Fallin'' and other hits, dies at 66

Randy Lewis
LA Times
2 October 2017

Tom Petty rode to the pinnacle of pop music stardom with his beloved and long-running rock band the Heartbreakers, born out of the ashes of a group that flopped when he brought them from Gainesville, Fla., to California in the mid-1970s. He emerged as one of the most vocal and tireless champions of artistic integrity and musical purity in the record business.

Reportedly found unconscious at his Malibu home on Sunday night, Petty was rushed to UCLA’s Santa Monica hospital in full cardiac arrest and died Monday at 66. For hours, multiple media outlets reported his death only to retract those reports; his death was confirmed Monday night by his family’s spokeswoman. A cause has not been announced.

“On behalf of the Tom Petty family,” said Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

Petty had just completed an extensive tour to mark the Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary. It concluded Sept. 25 with a three-night homecoming stand that sold out at the Hollywood Bowl.

“It’s shocking, crushing news,” his longtime friend and collaborator Bob Dylan said. “I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

Petty and his mates distilled a signature sound that was as influenced as much by The Byrds as the Beatles, with the swagger of the Rolling Stones and some doses of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and soul stirrings of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke thrown in.

Initially lumped in with the burgeoning punk rock scene, and later affiliated more with the singer-songwriter-focused new wave movement, Petty and the Heartbreakers rose to fame in 1977 with their first Top 40 single, the sultry, bluesy hit “Breakdown.”

It was a breath of fresh air amid a rising tide of “corporate rock” bands — such as Kansas, Foreigner, Bad Company and Journey — that boasted stellar musicianship but produced often faceless music.

Petty and his cohorts rejuvenated a more stripped-down, passion-filled, elemental form of rock ’n’ roll that they had soaked up in the ’50s and ‘60s, and which manifested in nearly 30 singles that made Billboard’s Hot 100 sales ranking.

Songs like “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Free Fallin’,” “Listen To Her Heart,” “The Waiting,” “Learning to Fly” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” their collaboration with Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks for her solo album “Bella Donna,” quickly became staples of Top 40 and FM radio playlists.

The group churned out hit album after hit album as well. The biggest included: “Damn the Torpedoes” from 1979, “Hard Promises” in 1981, “The Last DJ” in 2002, and “Mojo” in 2010. (“Mojo” entered the chart and peaked at No. 2, 30 years into the band’s career.)

Petty also recorded several successful solo albums, which often included most or all members of the Heartbreakers performing. His first, 1989’s “Full Moon Fever,” reached No. 3, followed by “Wildflowers” in 1994 and “Highway Companion” in 2006.

He carved out a niche as one of rock’s most beloved figures, respected by both peers and fans. Far from textbook handsome rock stars like Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen, or an antihero such as Mick Jagger or Lou Reed, Petty had an everyman quality that he also brought to his songs, which often were collaborations with guitarist Campbell, who largely wrote music, leaving the lyrics to Petty.

Though couched as a cautionary note to a romantic rival, the song “Listen to Her Heart,” from the group’s 1978 sophomore album “You’re Gonna Get It,” was also an allegory about the music industry forces Petty felt were attempting to subvert the music he loved.

“You think you’re gonna take her away / with your money and you cocaine / You keep thinking that her mind is gonna change / But I know everything is OK / She’s gonna listen to her heart.”

The Florida-bred singer and songwriter became a member of rock music’s elite, and in the late 1980s was central in creating one of its most revered supergroups, the Traveling Wilburys, a short-lived ensemble that featured Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, along with the Heartbreakers, collecting three Grammy Awards and 18 nominations over the years.

Thomas Earl Petty was born Oct. 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Fla., the first child of Earl and Katherine “Kitty” Petty. Petty had a difficult relationship with his father, and cited a particularly brutal beating he received at age 5 that stayed with him for life.

The young Petty showed little interest in school, and was more interested in watching favorite TV westerns such as “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Rifleman.” When an uncle facilitated a film shoot in Florida, Petty’s aunt invited him to the set. There, at 10 years old, he met one of his biggest musical heroes, Elvis Presley, who was starring in “Follow That Dream.”

“Within days, Petty says, he traded his slingshot for a box of 45s, many of them Presley classics,” musician and author Warren Zanes wrote in his 2015 book “Petty: The Biography.” “Elvis became a symbol of a place Tom Petty wanted to go. In time, the Beatles would be the map to get there.”

As with so many young music fans at the time, The Beatles’ appearance on Feb. 9, 1964, on “The Ed Sullivan Show” had an equally galvanizing effect.

“When I was a kid, I would have loved to have been a rock-and-roll star,” he told Zanes. “I just didn’t understand how you got to be one. How did you suddenly have a mohair suit and an orchestra? But the minute I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan — and it’s true for thousands of us — there was a way to do it.”

One of his earliest groups was called the Sundowners, and among the first songs they learned to perform at a local dance for teens, was Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs’ 1965 Tex-Mex party hit “Wooly Bully."

“The first time you count four and, suddenly, rock ’n’ roll is playing — it’s bigger than life itself,” Petty told Zanes. “It was the greatest moment in my experience, really.”

After the Sundowners, he played in the Epics, which evolved into Mudcrutch, a blues-R&B-rock-soul group that included guitarists Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon, keyboardist Benmont Tench III, drummer Randall Marsh and Petty, then playing bass.

Early on, Petty on recognized the importance of writing original material, so he Campbell and other band members tried their hands at songwriting. They also took note of what happened when Leadon’s older brother — multi-instrumentalist Bernie Leadon — had abandoned Gainesville for Los Angeles: After playing with the influential country-rock group the Flying Burrito Brothers, he was invited to join a new group blending country and rock elements called the Eagles.

Mudcrutch threw what little resources they had together, piled in a couple of vehicles and headed west. Along the way, they were invited to stop at the Tulsa, Okla., offices of Shelter Records, where they made a few recordings before continuing on to L.A. In 1975, Shelter released a debut single from Mudcrutch, “Depot City,” which quickly flopped.

Other labels turned down the group, which then disbanded. Tench landed some free recording studio time at the Village in west Los Angeles, and without money to hire other musicians, he invited Petty and Campbell, along with a couple of other musicians who’d made the cross-country trek from Florida, drummer Stan Lynch and bassist Ron Blair.

When Petty showed up, he often said later, he quickly determined that the revised unit had potential. They began working on new songs, and recorded what would be released in 1976 as their debut album, “Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.”

One of the earliest supporters of the act was The Times’ then-pop music critic Robert Hilburn, who initially wrote a qualified endorsement of the album: “It’s all in the formative stage, but promising.”

After spending more time with it, and going to see the group perform in San Francisco, Hilburn took an unusual step for a major media critic — he gave it a second, much more enthusiastic review, which longtime manager Tony Dimitriades said helped to galvanize industry interest.

“Like the best of the Rolling Stones, Petty’s music gains with repeated playing,” Hilburn wrote. “What appeared initially to be slightly off-center and fragmented has become a strikingly seductive, expertly woven rock ’n’ roll mosaic. It’s the strongest dose of pure, mainstream rock by an American band since Aerosmith’s ‘Rocks.’”

The debut album peaked at No. 55 in Billboard. The follow-up, “You’re Gonna Get It,” pushed the group into the Top 30, reaching as high as No. 23 in 1978.

The big breakthrough came with the Heartbreakers’ introduction to an engineer who would become one of the entertainment world’s biggest movers and shakers. For their third album, “Damn the Torpedoes,” Jimmy Iovine took over as their producer, and the album’s creation story has become part of music industry mythology.

As the recording got underway, Shelter Records hit financial hard times and the company’s assets and artist roster was transferred lock, stock and barrel to parent company MCA Records. Petty objected, saying he wasn’t interested in being part of such a corporate giant.

In a risky, but ultimately successful, legal gambit, he declared bankruptcy, which nullified old contracts. Starting from scratch, he was able to negotiate a label imprint of his own, Backstreet Records. It was on this label that he eventually released “Damn the Torpedoes,” which found the band at a new creative peak, bristling with vibrant songs including “Refugee,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “Even the Losers” and “Louisiana Rain.”

His batting average remained impressively high over 40 years, and he even got a couple of victory laps for Mudcrutch, which reunited in 2008 to record a proper album. “Mudcrutch” reached No. 8 in Billboard, an honorable valedictory performance.

The reunited quintet went on a limited tour in small-scale theaters, which Petty, Campbell and Tench said was a liberating change from the large-scale facilities the Heartbreakers were used to playing, and recorded a second album last year, “Mudcrutch 2,” peaking at No. 10, and another tour was organized.

But the pendulum swung back once again to the Heartbreakers, and in April, the group embarked on what the band members called the longest, most taxing, most lucrative and most rewarding of their career.

Petty’s death was a shock to fans and friends alike. In August, a case of laryngitis forced him to postpone some performances on the 40th anniversary tour.

“It was scary,” he told The Times last week, in one of his final interviews. “It was very scary.”

But after several days of vocal rest, he was able to complete those shows, albeit a week late, then make a headline performance on Sept. 17 at the KaaBoo Music Festival in Del Mar en route to the homecoming shows at the Bowl on Sept. 21, 22 and 25.

Two days after the final performance, he rejected reports that the 40th anniversary string of shows would be the group’s swan song.

“Why would we quit?” he said. “The band is playing better than ever.”

Petty’s survivors include his wife, Dana; two daughters, Adria and Annakim Violette; Dana’s son, Dylan; Petty’s younger brother, Bruce; and granddaughter Everly Petty. No services have been announced.

Less than 48 hours after capping the 40th anniversary tour with the finale at the Bowl, Petty spoke to The Times at his home in Malibu, about the band's long journey together and what most resonated with him four decades down the line.

“The thing about the Heartbreakers is: It’s still holy to me," Petty said. "There’s a holiness there. If that were to go away, I don’t think I would be interested in it, and I don’t think they would be. We’re a real rock ’n’ roll band — always have been. And to us, in the era we came up in, it was a religion in a way. It was more than commerce — it wasn’t about that.

“It was about something much greater: It was about moving people, and changing the world, and I really believed in rock ’n’ roll. I still do. I believed in it in its purest sense, its purest form. And I watched it commit suicide; I watched it really kill itself over money. That was painful, and I saw that coming, a long time before it happened. I wasn’t surprised in the least. I could see what they were doing wrong.

“But I think we still feel we’re on a mission for good. I’m so touched by … this year has been a wonderful year for us," he said, adding with a laugh, "This has been that big slap on the back we never got. And it’s really felt good."

Cheers, Tom.