“We’re an LA band,” Tom Petty told the Los Angeles Times in 2014.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was a Floridian by birth, but few musicians were as closely associated with Southern California—both as a place and an idea—than Petty. He died Monday after wrapping up a successful world tour with his longtime band, The Heartbreakers.
Nothing encapsulates the rockstar’s close relationship with LA better than the music video for “Free Fallin’,” released in 1989. Both the song and the video perfectly capture the popular image of the 1980s-era San Fernando Valley as a bizarre suburban wilderness driven by consumerism and teenage angst.
To get a sense of how much the landscape of Los Angeles influenced Petty’s music—and, in some cases, how the artist himself impacted the landscape, at least in the public imagination—we recommend taking a look at this excellent LA Weekly piece from 2008.
It catalogues all of Petty’s Los Angeles haunts, from cheap motels to his first house with a swimming pool in Canoga Park. It also includes the venues and recording studios that fueled his launch to stardom (like other iconic LA bands, The Heartbreakers had early success at venerable Sunset Strip club Whisky A Go Go) and some of the places immortalized in Petty’s memorable lyrics. As it turns out, “Century City” was inspired by Petty’s legal battle with MCA records, which took place largely in the sleek law offices of the Westside neighborhood.
Check out the full article here.
- Tom Petty’s Los Angeles [LA Weekly]
- How ’80s pop culture typecast the Valley [Curbed LA]
- Tom Petty’s Post-Arson House in Encino For Sale For First Time [Curbed LA]