Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Final Concert

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Tom Petty, during his final concert, Hollywood Bowl, September 25, 2017

We didn’t know that he soldiered on throughout the big 2017 tour with a fractured hip. Yet each night, he and his amazing band gave arena and stadium audiences their money’s worth. And then some.

They had played 56 concerts, including nine festival dates, spanning just three countries. It all started in Oklahoma City on April 20. When Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers‘ 40th anniversary tour ended on September 25, 2017, with a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, it was time to take a break.

And then exactly one week later, on October 2, came the shocking news. Tom Petty had been found unconscious at his Los Angeles home. Doctors couldn’t revive him. He was pronounced dead that evening from an accidental overdose of pain medications that he had taken to ease the pain of his hip and other ailments.

Each night on the 40th anniversary tour, the Heartbreakers delivered a two-hour set of 18 or 19 songs from their outstanding classic rock catalog. And that September 25 performance, their third that week at the Hollywood Bowl, brought them home after months on the road.

“She grew up in an Indiana town…” Watch the band perform the evening’s second number

“Thank you sooo much,” he said, three nights earlier at the second-to-last concert. “Thank you so much for coming out to the Hollywood Bowl tonight. We’re really excited to be back home and be playing for our local fans. I know the word’s probably gotten around but if you don’t know, we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary with this crew.

“We’re just gonna throw a bunch of records up in the air and see where they fall tonight. We’re gonna feel whatever we feel like playing.”

In introducing the evening’s fifth song, Petty dedicated the song to longtime radio and record label exec Jon Scott. “Six weeks before our first record was dropped by ABC Records, he went to the radio stations with a vengeance and brought that sucker onto the charts. We are forever grateful; we’re gonna dedicate this to him tonight.”

Related: Our interview with Jon Scott

Watch the evening’s eighth song, 1991’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” one of his biggest singles. His live performance of it always closes with a mind-blowing ending

“How about a big round of applause for the Heartbreakers? These guys have been such a big part of my life… ” said Petty halfway through the concert. He then introduced the backup singers the Webb sisters, (“the one and only”) Scott Thurston, (“a wonderful person and the finest drummer I’ve ever met or played with”) Steve Ferrone, (“if you’re gonna have a great rock ‘n’ roll band, you’ve got to have an even better bass player”) Ron Blair, (“the greatest rock keyboard man in the world”) Benmont Tench III and (“I have no idea who you are but I hope you’re in my band forever”) Mike Campbell.

Watch Petty’s heartfelt (and often humorous) band introductions

Watch the final song of the main set

“I want to thank all of you for coming out tonight,” said Petty before the evening’s second of two encores. “We love you dearly. I want to thank you for 40 years of a really great time.” And then: “We’re almost out of time. We’ve got time for this one,” as the familiar first guitar chords of “American Girl” began.

Watch the evening’s final song, fittingly, “American Girl”

Related: “American Girl” – A perfect rock song

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, September 25, 2017, Hollywood Bowl Setlist

Rockin’ Around (With You)
Mary Jane’s Last Dance
You Don’t Know How it Feels
Forgotten Man
I Won’t Back Down
Free Fallin’
Don’t Come Around Here No More
It’s Good to Be King
Crawling Back to You
Learning to Fly
Yer So Bad
I Should Have Known It
Runnin’ Down a Dream

You Wreck Me
American Girl

“I want to thank you for 40 years of a really great time”

No, Tom. Thank you.

Related: Our review of the 40th anniversary tour’s June 16, 2017 performance at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ

Best Classic Bands Staff

5 Comments so far

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  1. Coad
    #1 Coad 28 September, 2018, 21:40

    I persònally met Marty Balin along with Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead ) with Greg Irons (Yellow. Dogs comix) while staying with Greg Irons in San Francisco in 69.We all went out to a Chinese restaurant and all three of those guys were really cool. Being from Philly they all asked me about the mayor Frank Rizzo (Ratso.Rizzo) who was a former Philly Police Còmmisioner & well known at the time .We all took mescaline before the food was served and Marty sang “White Rabbit ” out loud as we all got off on the Mescaline.Marty was funny , loud and hysterical company.R.I.P. good hearted man .

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  2. Celya723
    #2 Celya723 27 February, 2019, 02:01

    Any chance of the final Hollywood Bowl concert being released as a tribute to Tom & the Heartbreakers legacy? Perhaps with additional footage from every stop in the tour for regional sales? Doesn’t hurt to ask! Thank you.

    Reply this comment
    • JCB
      JCB 25 September, 2022, 09:18

      You can go on the PBS store website and buy the 30th anniversary show in Gainesville, Fl. (Tom’s hometown) on DVD. It is not sold anywhere else. It is his best DVD by a lot. Great sound, great video, wild crowd. Stevie Nicks sings a couple of songs with Tom. I have three Petty DVD’s that is by far the best.

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  3. baybluesman
    #3 baybluesman 25 September, 2021, 18:58

    Saw Tom Petty and Heartbreakers as openers for J. Geils Band (back when the bad boys from Boston were bad asses) in 1977.
    Both bands were phenomenal then, and thoughout their careers, and I still play both bands albums regularly, to this day.

    Reply this comment
  4. Alecko
    #4 Alecko 25 September, 2022, 13:09

    Was fortunate enough to have seen TP and the Heartbreakers once in my home town of Glasgow and also when they played the Concert for George in London’s Royal Albert Hall.
    I have two experiences I will never forget.
    TP and his music will forever be with me.

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