Tom Petty| What If You Had A Dream
Tom Petty straddled the divide separating classic rock and new wave, revitalizing and reinvigorating the big jangle of the Byrds and the garage rock roar of the Rolling Stones with his earliest records with the Heartbreakers in the late 1970s. Over the next decades, Petty expanded and refined this blend, almost always with guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench -- the musicians who had played with him since the early '70s, when they all were in the rambling country-rock outfit Mudcrutch -- by his side. The consistency in personnel and Petty's allegiance to the sounds of the '60s did mean his music veered toward classic rock, a perception that tended to obscure the variety within his body of work and how he seemed like a bit of a punk when he released his first album with the Heartbreakers in 1976. The tough, lean sound of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers was in the same back-to-basics ballpark of the Ramones, and its rawness was evident in its signature single "American Girl," a rock & roll standard that didn't come close to the charts in 1977. Petty didn't land a big hit until he teamed up with producer Jimmy Iovine in 1979 for Damn the Torpedoes, a sleek, streamlined arena rock album that generated smashes in "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Refugee.