Artists Perform Tributes to Tom Petty

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Of all the remarkable musicians who passed in 2017–and sadly, it’s a long list–the one who perhaps overshadowed all others was Tom Petty, who died Oct. 2, one week to the day after completing a 40th anniversary concert tour with the Heartbreakers.

Petty earned three Grammy Awards: in 1989, he earned Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal as a member of the Traveling Wilburys; in 1995 for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “You Don’t Know How it Feels” from Wildflowers; and Best Long Form Music Video for “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” He was nominated for 14 others.

Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris performing “Wildflowers” during the Grammy broadcast at Madison Square Garden

In the days and weeks following Petty’s passing, artists spanning a cross section of musical genres paid tribute to the classic rock icon by performing his songs at their own concerts. These included John Fogerty (“I Won’t Back Down”), Roger McGuinn (“American Girl”), Bob Weir and Phil Lesh (“Breakdown”) and Miley Cyrus (“Wildflowers”).

Related: Musicians perform Petty tributes

At the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 2018, Petty was honored with a tribute performance of “WIldflowers” by Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris.

Three days after Petty’s death, Stapleton, performing in Moline, Ill., said of Petty: “I had the opportunity to play with Tom Petty earlier this year. And the last thing he said to me was ‘I hope we get an opportunity to do this again’ and I left there thinking that we might. I sure am saddened that we’re not going to get to.”

Watch Stapleton play “Learning to Fly” on Oct. 5, 2017

For her part, Harris has been covering Petty songs for years. The day after he died, she sang “Refugee” in a performance with Dave Matthews, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams.

At Sunday night’s tribute, Harris and Stapleton–who earned the Grammy this evening for Best Country Album–performed “Wildflowers.” As the song wound up, the traditional In Memoriam montage ran, honoring dozens of musicians we lost in the past year.

Earlier in the evening, rock and roll pioneers Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, both of whom also died in 2017, were lumped together in a tribute performance, even though Berry’s influence and career far overshadowed Domino’s. Gary Clark Jr. and Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste performed Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and Berry’s “Maybelline.”

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  1. Nestley2
    #1 Nestley2 29 January, 2018, 12:22

    May Tom Petty RIP. He is no longer in physical & emotional pain & duress. Loved your music & loved you, too!

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