Tom Petty was honored at the annual MusiCares charity event, which was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday evening. According to reports, the three-hour event raised more than $8.5 million for struggling musicians who need assistance with financial, medical, and personal difficulties.
In addition to naming Tom Petty the MusiCares Person of the Year, the organization arranged a star-studded tribute concert featuring the Bangles, Jakob Dylan, the Foo Fighters, Norah Jones, Don Henley Elle King, Stevie Nicks, George Strait, and many others. As reported by Variety, the event was directed by T Bone Burnett and emceed by Ed Helms.
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Although he spent a majority of the evening watching from the wings, Tom Petty and his own band, the Heartbreakers, performed five songs together to the obvious delight of his longtime fans.
A native of Gainesville, Florida, Tom Petty dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to devote more time to his band — which was called the Epics. As reported by Biography, “Petty quickly emerged as the frontman and primary songwriter [of] the group.”
Over the next 10 years, Petty and his bandmates moved to California, renamed their band Mudcrutch, and signed a contract with Shelter Records. Unfortunately, although the band enjoyed moderate success in Florida — their fans did not follow them to California.
Amid the stress, Mudcrutch dissolved and Tom Petty decided to pursue a solo career. Two years later, the singer and songwriter formed another band with Mudcrutch guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench. The band, which also featured Ron Blair on Bass and Stan Lynch on the drums, was called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
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Throughout his career, Petty released a total of 10 studio albums with the Heartbreakers, two albums with The Traveling Wilburys, two albums with Mudcrutch, and two solo albums.
The talented musician has been honored with numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards, three MTV Music Awards, and one Billboard Music Award. Most recently, Tom Petty was named the MusiCares Person of the year.
As explained by Grammys website, “MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality.”
According to the organization’s web page, MusiCare specifically provides struggling musicians with dental, medical, and mental health services, as well as emergency living expenses, equipment replacement, funeral expenses, substance abuse treatment, and senior citizen care.
Between 2014 and 2015, the organization provided more than $2.6 million in assistance to more than 2,843 struggling musicians. According to the annual financial report, a vast majority of the clients were provided with medical care, dental care, and assistance with basic living needs.
Over the last 26 years, MusiCares has honored numerous musicians including David Crosby, Gloria Estefan, Phil Collins, Elton John, Bono, Sting, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, and Neil Diamond. However, the show honoring Tom Petty was one of the most successful and broke the organization’s prior fundraising record.
During his acceptance speech, Tom Petty applauded MusiCares, which has “helped so many people.” He also discussed his idols, including The Beatles and Johnny Cash, how he got his big break with Shelter Records, and his band the Heartbreakers — which he referred to as “one of the two or three best rock ‘n’ roll bands, ever.”
MusiCares’ Tom Petty Tribute sold out, despite the fact that attendees paid between $1,500 and $8,500 per seat. Prior to this year’s concert, the organization received the most donations in 2016 — when the organization’s show honoring Lionel Richie raised $7.2 million.
[Featured Image by Steve White photos/Shutterstock]