Tom Petty, with his signature shaggy blonde locks and all-American charm, was the humble rocker anyone could get behind. Perhaps because he was the kind of rock soul who loved the form himself— always a fan, first and foremost.
“You’d go and see some other kid whose hair was long, this was around ’65, and go, ’Wow, there’s one like me,’” he once told The Associated Press in 1989. “You’d go over and talk and he’d say, ‘I’ve got a drum set.’ ‘You do? Great!’ That was my whole life.” Something about that sincerity breaks through to the core of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers— theirs was a sound founded on years of admiration, drawing from legends before them to create a classic sound that has continued to stand the test of time.
So much so, it’s hard to believe it’s already been 40 years since Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took to the Paradise stage in Boston, Mass. By then, the group only had two albums under their belt, but don’t let their early career youth fool you— those first rock records are some of their best. With their eponymous 1976 debut and 1978 follow up, You’re Gonna Get It, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers worked through a catalogue of hits, like “American Girl,” “Listen to Her Heart,” and “Breakdown,” at each of their concerts, capturing hearts wherever they went.
In this 1978 concert, we hear Tom Petty exactly as we should remember him. Take a listen below, and continue feeding your nostalgia with the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers posthumous boxset, set to release this September.