Tom Petty: Hypnotic Heartbreaker



By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Tom Petty came of age in the 60s and decided to make a name for himself in the arts. Rather than taking up psychedelic rock, new wave or metal, he opted for a timeless sort of rock 'n' roll that has somehow outlasted almost all of his peers. How much do you know about Petty and his life?

Petty has always aligned closely with his hometown. Where's he from?

He grew up in Gainesville, Florida, firmly in the South … a fact that he has always embraced. Florida natives, in exchange, are more than happy to call him one of theirs.


He goes by "Tom Petty," but what's his real full name?

He was born Thomas Earl Petty. But of course, he's always been known just as Tom.


What was the name of Petty's first band?

His first band was called the Sundowners. He also played in a band called The Epics, a group that found a local following.


Young Tom wasn't always sure a life in music was a good idea. Which band inspired Petty to take up music for himself?

He was first taken with Elvis, but it was the Beatles that first made Petty think that he could truly be in a band and make a life for himself.


Petty loved his mother dearly. What sort of relationship did Petty have with his father?

Petty always had conflict with this father, who was sometimes physically violent towards his son. After one beating, the 5-year-old Petty was left with horrendous welts all over his body.


What level of education did Petty achieve?

Legend has it that Petty dropped out of school to pursue rock 'n' roll. That's not entirely true. He attended high school -- but skipped graduation because he wanted to play a concert.


What was the first single released by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers?

The band released "Breakdown" as one of its first singles. The song did just OK in the States but was actually more popular in England.


Petty's band The Epics eventually morphed into which outfit?

The Epics was a solid band but eventually, it became Mudcrutch. Mudcrutch was (and still is) a blend of rootsy Southern rock, and it helped propel Petty to bigger projects.


In 1970, what did Mudcrutch do?

In the early 1970s, the guys decided to head west to L.A. to pursue a record contract. The plan didn't work out, and after some upheaval, they eventually turned into a band called the Heartbreakers.


Petty made it big with his band The Heartbreakers, but he decided to go solo. When did he break out of the band?

He released his first solo album, "Full Moon Fever," in 1989. But it should be noted that members of the Heartbreakers helped him make the record.


How does Petty feel about free music streaming services?

Petty despises music streaming (and MP3s, for that matter) because the artists get no real compensation. He loves that vinyl is making a comeback.


"Full Moon Fever" was a fantastic success. Which hit song was NOT on the album?

"Refugee" appeared on a Heartbreakers album, not "Full Moon Fever." But "Full Moon Fever" was still filled with hits that established Petty as a force in pop music.


Which of the following men was NOT in Mudcrutch?

Blair wasn't part of Mudcrutch. But Mudcrutch did feature Tench and Campbell, both of whom are a part of Heartbreakers fame.


Petty married Jane Benyo in 1974. How long did the marriage last?

The couple was married for about 22 years. The disintegration of the marriage weighed heavily on Petty's life in the 1990s.


When he was a young child, Petty's father beat him particularly badly after the boy did what?

Young Tom decided to shoot his slingshot at a passing car, an act that his father immediately punished with severe physical violence. Petty's turbulent childhood partially served as fuel for his creative fire.


Petty once used the Confederate flag for marketing purposes.

In the 80s, Petty used the Confederate flag to market the song "Rebels." He almost immediately took back the strategy once he saw fans arriving at concerts wearing clothes featuring the symbol of Southern secession.


Petty broke his hand in frustration by punching a wall during the recording of which album?

The band decided to take a different direction with "Southern Accents," and the recording process became overwhelming at times. Petty punched a wall in anger and wound up breaking his hand.


In 1981, Petty engaged in a power struggle with record company MCA over what issue?

MCA wanted to sell the album for a higher-than-average price of $9.98; Petty wanted a lower price of $8.98. Petty withheld the album and led a fan revolt until the company finally backed down.


Following the breakup of his marriage, Petty was emotionally distraught and got wrapped up in which substance?

He dabbled in heroin to kill his pain but lost control of the habit. His spiral into addiction profoundly affected his personal and professional life.


What was Petty's first impression of heroin?

Petty was burdened by his marriage problems, and the drugs helped alleviate his despair. But the drugs played what he called a "dirty trick" on his behavior, and he was lost in the substance until he finally realized its destructive power.


In 1989, Petty secretly signed a new record deal with which company?

MCA played power games with Petty, a fact that left the artist miffed. While still under contract with MCA, he secretly signed with Warner Bros. and eventually made great music for the latter company.


Petty did NOT have a recurring role in which TV show?

Petty has worked in many TV shows and at least one movie. He did voice a character for "The Simpsons," but only for one episode.


How did Petty manage to break his heroin habit?

Petty tried to simply give up the drug but couldn’t do it. He went to rehab, an act that eventually helped to save him.


How did the band's song "American Girl" perform when it was released as a single?

What's "American Girl"? The now-famous Heartbreakers song went completely under the radar until it was re-released about 20 years later.


"American Girl" was inspired by a college student's suicide.

It’s a common urban legend that the song was inspired by a Florida student hurling herself from a tall building, but it's simply not true. Petty has repeatedly refuted the story.


Someone once tried to kill Petty by which means?

In 1987, a still-unknown arsonist set fire to Petty's home while he and his family were inside. The fire destroyed the house and most of their possessions but no one was hurt.


In 2014, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released an album titled "Hypnotic Eye." How did the album perform?

Decades after its first release, the band unveiled "Hypnotic Eye" and found immediate success. It was its first ever No. 1 album ever.


In 1996 Petty and the Heartbreakers created a soundtrack for which movie?

The album served as a soundtrack for "She's the One," starring Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz. It's not considered one of the band's better moments.


In the late 1980s, Petty joined forces with a band called The Traveling Wilburys. Who started this band?

It was a dream come true of sorts. Petty joined the Wilburys, who were started by George Harrison. Harrison, of course, was a member of the Beatles.


Tom has never been one to bask in complacency. In 2008, what did Petty decide to do?

Petty did what no rock star does. He called up the guys from Mudcruth and relaunched the band. The music connected with audiences, leading the band to release yet another album in 2016.


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