Admirably made a glittering return to music scene with numerous critics' praise directed to his third solo album, “Highway Companion”, Tom Petty seemingly has not only poured down all of his musical talents and skills to turn the year into another great period to pass through, but also his whole energy as well for dates of his 2006 U.S tour alongside the Heartbreakers keeps being added to satisfy his fans across the country for sure. Already carried out the first leg rather velvety from June 9 to July 3, this veteran rock artist next sets to continue his journey in the second leg of the tour, first going to Portland, Oregon on July 29 before making stops to other cities like Seattle, Houston, Detroit, Hartford, and Camden until August 18. After a less-than-one-month break, the third leg will begin on September 14 in Chicago then spreading to Austin, Gainesville, Los Angeles, San Diego, Berkeley plus Glendale where it will be wrapped up on October 4 with John Mayer as the opening act.
Born Thomas Earl Petty on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida, Tom initially began developing his flair in music during his teens through frequent self-trainings either at home or fall-out shelter located in the backyard of his family's residence yet the thought of becoming a musician originally had never passed into his mind at that time though. All then started to change when Elvis Presley suddenly made a stop at a neighboring city of Ocala to film his 1962 vehicle of “Follow That Dream” and upon watching the megastar performing, the boy was so struck by his charisma that an inspiration to follow the singer's trail subsequently took roots within him. First drawing from the ranks of his friends at Gainesville High School to form The Sundowners which later led into the establishment of Mudcrutch, he, alongside the personnel, at last managed to secure a record deal with fledgling label Shelter Records to afterwards delightfully see the band's single, “Depot Street”, hit the market in 1974.
Sadly, the composition bitterly turned out to be the first and last work of Mudcrutch as the troupe shockingly decided to split in the same year, but undeterred by this break-up, Tom optimistically went on to build a backup band together with the remaining Mudcrutch members, Mike Campbell also Benmont Tench while adding two more personnel named Ron Blair and Stan Lynch to the line-up. Lucky for them, Shelter was willing to include the group, dubbed the Heartbreakers, in the contract so that the guy plus the quartet only had to wait for several months long to have their debut album, titled “Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers” being stacked in stores by November 1976. Though finding success in U.K rather quickly, it was not until the next year that the LP finally could make sound in the States to gradually reach the 55th rank of Billboard's Pop Album, thanks to the constant radio airplay of “Breakdown” which made its way to become a Top 40 hit.
Aimed to score higher, Tom and the Heartbreakers once more joined forces to carefully work on their sophomore effort that immediately resulted in “You're Gonna Get It!” released on May 7, 1978. Boasting two singles of "Listen To Her Heart" and “I Need To Know”, the album delightfully soared well in sales to instantly be certified Gold by July while rising up to number 23 on Billboard's Pop Album and so gave enough confidence for them to keep striving in the industry. In the middle of this progress, however, a grave problem unexpectedly occurred when it was announced that ABC Records, Shelter's parent company, suddenly was sold off to MCA Records. Conflicts over the contract inevitably rose between the two sides, thereby dragged Tom alongside the band to undergo long battle before a settlement was ultimately reached to find themselves being attached to the label's subsidiary of Backstreet Records in mid 1979.
Much to Tom's relief, what came next after the dispute wonderfully was more than good compensation for the loss he had suffered as his third album with the Heartbreakers, “Damn the Torpedoes“, amazingly struck hard the music scene upon being launched in October the same year. Elevated by hit singles “Don't Do Me Like That” and "Refugee", the album really did not find much difficulty to secure its peak at the second rank of Billboard's Pop Album for 7 weeks to then obtain Platinum status by February 1980. This attainment consequently propelled Tom and the Heartbreakers to widespread recognition for sure yet it did not mean that everything just ran out smoothly for them from then on as another trouble with MCA again arose in the air, this time concerning the list price of the troupe's third LP, “Hard Promises.” The fuss was that the label insisted to give $9.98 for the album's price instead of $8.98 like Tom had demanded, and thus created a certain degree of heat in the brink of the record's release in May 1981.
Eventually had his way after boldly withholding “Hard Promises” from the company, the singer, still accompanied by the Heartbreakers, once more led the group to joyously achieve great success when the work fabulously earned them their second Platinum in August besides generating a hit single of “The Waiting.” In the middle of this sweet outcome, however, bassist Ron Blair abruptly revealed his intention to quit the band, but quickly found his replacement in Howard Epstein, Tom and the Heartbreakers kept moving on to extend their accomplishment for the rest of the '80s with subsequent works of “Long After Dark” (1982), “Southern Accents” (1985), also “Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)” (1987). Despite these all, the talented singer apparently was eager to look for other opportunities to shine as he soon was seen joining Traveling Wilburys, a super-group consisted of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, plus Roy Orbison by 1988, together making “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1” later that year.
Supported by such big names, the album's result of course was tremendous for it effortlessly broke into the 3rd position on The Billboard 200 within a short time while spawning 3 Top 5 Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks hits along the way. Riding high on this superb achievement, Tom determinedly decided to develop a solo project in 1989 through the unleashing of “Full Moon Fever” by April that year and immediately find himself glow brighter under the spotlight as this piece of work also took up its peak on number 3 of The Billboard 200 to later be certified two-times Platinum in November. What was more, 3 out of its 12 compositions, namely “Free Fallin'”, “I Won't Back Down”, plus “Runnin' Down a Dream”, brilliantly managed to top Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, the former even directing him to land Best Rock Vocal Performance – Male nomination at the 1990 Grammy Awards apart from that of Album of the Year.
Up to the first half of 1990s, Tom truly succeeded in maintaining his music career throughout, returning to Traveling Wilburys to produce the group's second record, “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3” released in October 1990 then rejoining the Heartbreakers to make “Into the Great Wide Open” (1991), “Greatest Hits” (1993), and a 6-disc box set titled “Playback” (1995), while taking time in between to bring out his sophomore solo album, “Wildflowers” (1994). The latter gloriously turned out to be a really excellent tool to encounter his highlight when it proudly brought him to receive a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance – Male category through one of its track, "You Don't Know How It Feels" in 1996. Sadly, his personal life on the other hand experienced a gloom phase during the year for he and his wife, Jane, ultimately concluded to have a divorce after being married since 1974 though they already have two daughters, Adria and Anna Kim.
Continuing his path alongside the Heartbreakers which had added Scott Thurston in harmonica while included Steve Ferrone to fill the empty seat left by drummer Stan Lynch in 1994, Tom kept being productive for the next few years, releasing a film soundtrack from “She's the One” in 1996 also two more LPs of “Echo” (1999) and “The Last DJ” (2002). All smoothly made their way to enter the top 20 of The Billboard 200 altogether with “Echo” marvelously contributing him 2 other Grammy nominations in categories of Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song for its single “Room at the Top” by 2000. In spite of these repeated successes, however, it was not until year 2006 that the fair-haired man finally made his comeback to the circuit through another solo effort entitled “Highway Companion” on July 25, much to everyone's surprise. Produced by Jeff Lyne under American Recordings also Warner Bros. Records, this album thereby has certainly been a significant point in marking the acclaimed singer's 30-year-old presence in music industry.