Nearly four decades into a career that's already earned them a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tom Petty and his longtime band the Heartbreakers find themselves to be as popular as ever, still a vital recording act and always a hot concert ticket when they go on tour. The group proved it again in 2013, selling out dates around the world and headlining at Bonnaroo.
Petty has managed to engage generations of fans thanks to the string of timeless tracks he and his band have released through the years, from "Breakdown" and "I Need to Know" in the '70s to "Refugee" and "Free Fallin'" in the '80s, to "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" in the '90s, to "The Last DJ" and "Saving Grace" in the 2000s. Though Petty has long been based in Los Angeles, he and bandmates Mike Campbell and Benmont Trench have roots in Gainesville, Fla., where they started out in a country-rock band dubbed Mudcrutch in 1970s. The Heartbreakers came in the mid-'70s, after the trio regrouped and added bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch (who has since been replaced by Steve Ferrone. Over the years, Petty found a way to fuse melodic and harder rock elements with the straightforwardness of country to create his uniquely American -- and instantly identifiable -- brand of rock and roll.