Tom Petty has never had a number one song on the Hot 100. In fact, he's only had one song in the top 10. But he's had an extended career of excellence, with The Heartbreakers, The Traveling Wilburys, and solo. Uploaded by tampabay.com.
Whether he was fronting The Heartbreakers, singing with the Traveling Wilburys, or recording as a solo artist, Tom Petty has always experienced success. His first album, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, wasn’t an immediate hit when released in 1976. But from the second album on, and all his solo and Wilburys albums, he’s at least achieved gold status. And his Greatest Hits is 10x Platinum.
Uploaded by media.blurt-online.com.
Several of the band’s songs are played regularly on classic rock stations, but didn’t make much of an impact on the singles chart: “Breakdown,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “Into the Great Wide Open,” and “American Girl.” Here are some that had more success on the Hot 100 Chart:
“Don’t Do Me Like That” (#10, 1979)
“Refugee” (#15, 1980)
“The Waiting” (#19, 1981)
“You Got Lucky” (#20, 1982)
“Don’t Come Around Here No More” (#13, 1985)
“I Won’t Back Down” (#12, 1989)
“Runnin’ Down a Dream” (#23, 1989)
“Free Fallin'” (#7, 1989)
“Learning to Fly” (#28, 1991)
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (#14, 1993)
“You Don’t Know How It Feels” (#13, 1994)
As you can see, Petty has enjoyed a career of sustained quality, but never been the flavor of the month. However, it’s a measure of the respect in which he’s held by his fellow artists that he was included with the Wilburys, a modest group that included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and ELO’s Jeff Lynne.
Sun Records had an impressive beginning by distributing such blues artists as Rufus Thomas. But they also rented the studio by the hour, and one day a truck driver named Presley stopped in during his lunch hour...Photo by Rick Kobylinski.
With today’s sophisticated software, almost anyone can record music and cut their own CD, or create a digital file that can be downloaded by listeners. But let’s go back to 1952, when recording equipment was a lot more expensive. And much more scarce. A fellow could create a record label, then charge people to record their music.
In 1953, a truck driver came into the Memphis studio of Sun Records on his lunch hour and paid four whole dollars to record two songs. He later said it was a gift for his mother, but he probably wanted to be discovered. Sam Phillips, the legendary owner of Sun Records, wasn’t there at the time, so his secretary managed the recording. She was sufficiently impressed to tell Phillips about this
Uploaded by gomemphis.com.
Elvis fellow, but it was still months later before Phillips got him back in the studio. This time, there was no missing his talent, and his first song (“That’s All Right, Mama”) came out in 1954. Elvis had only five singles on Sun Records before moving to RCA, but the partnership was the springboard to success for both artist and label.
Sun Records became the leading distributor of what came to be known as “rockabilly” records. Among the label’s stars were Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”), Carl Perkins (“Blue Suede Shoes”), Johnny Cash (“I Walk the Line”), Charlie Rich (“Raunchy”), and Roy Orbison (“Ooby Dooby”). Unfortunately for Sun and Sam Phillips, his artists became so successful that he couldn’t afford to keep them. The Sun began to set after about a ten-year phenomenal run. But during that time, it had such a profound impact on both rock and country music that it holds a permanent place in American musical history.
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.