At this most recent Austin City Limits festival, many of the performances had one very specific characteristic in common. Regardless of genre, bands from The Killers to The Revivalists all played a cover of the many classic and well-remembered Tom Petty songs. Due to Petty’s recent and tragic passing, his death was on the forefront of everyone’s minds, including the many bands that performed at this most recent ACL. The rolling hills of Zilker Park were filled with, among many things, a plentiful amount of covers in honor of the legendary musician himself. The Killers began their not easily forgotten with a fitting cover of “American Girl” while both Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and The Revivalists played a cover of the song that just seems so peacefully written, “Wildflowers”.


Along with the many covers of Petty’s music, the organizers of Austin City Limits planned a skydiving demonstration. As a previous performance of Petty singing “Free Fallin’” at ACL during the year of  2006 played on the video screens of the tightly packed American Express stage in preparation for Red Hot Chili Peppers, three skydivers jumped from a Cessna plane and deployed their parachutes at a safe range and lit sparklers to form a circle in the sky. The stunt was excellently completed and dazzled the thousands of people below.


The many thoughtful tributes to Mr. Petty truly showed, above all else, that his recently departed memory will be forever remembered in the many genres of the music community. Along with his many excellent performances from across the world, Petty will be remembered for the plentiful and creative ways that his music entered countless individuals lives.



For starters, Tom Petty played with a multitude of famous artists from across the spectrum. On the Johnny Cash album “Unchained”, Petty provides plenty of vocals, up to the point where a few songs on the album are composed entirely of himself. Possibly his best collaboration, besides his work with The Heartbreakers, was the Traveling WIlburys, which included Petty playing with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne. The extraordinary group of gentlemen made volumes of music together and afterwards had an incredibly successful solo career, releasing hit after hit.


But apart from the musicians he collaborated with, Petty himself was intelligent and performed at a variety of shows. He performed at various and interesting places, such as Saturday Night Live’s 35th season finale, the halftime-show of Super Bowl XLII, and the NBA’s playoffs coverage in 2006, and Bonnaroo Music Festival that same year.


From a personal standpoint, I’ve known of Tom Petty since my younger days at a Jewish summer camp in Central Texas, where they played “Free Fallin’” as well as many other hits, such as “Breakdown.” And his songs, being the easily playable yet memorable songs that they were, became the first songs I learned during my brief period of playing guitar.


Few musicians reached the realms that Petty did in terms of influence, marketing and creativity. His songs were so simple yet equally brilliantly written and composed. If the many tributes at ACL were any indication, the memory of Tom Petty will be remembered.  


Are you a Tom Petty fan? If so, Tweet me at @CaptainKasoff because I always enjoy talking about music.