Late rock legend Tom Petty led a life far less ordinary. Born in Gainesville, Florida, he met Elvis when he was 10 years old. His uncle was working on the set of the King’s move Follow That Dream in the nearby town of Ocala, and the meeting kick-started a wild love affair with rock ‘n’ roll. When he saw The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, he knew forming a band was his way in. He learned to play guitar from fellow Gainesvillian Don Felder, who went on to become the lead guitarist in a little band known as The Eagles.
Petty’s band The Heartbreakers had its first hit in 1977 with “Breakdown.” It’s second album You’re Gonna Get It! hit the top 40. It was all up from there, with major anthems including “American Girl,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” to name a few. A misheard mention to Stevie Nicks about when he met his wife inspired her classic song “Edge of Seventeen.” He went on to form a supergroup with icons of rock George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison called the Traveling Wilburys. His solo career gave us anthems “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Free Fallin’.”
His dry wit and delivery gave voice to an American alternative in a time when excess and opulence left so many out to dry. He was a character both rugged and smart, hopeful but shifty. He believed in dreams, but he didn’t deny life’s traps. He played it straight, sang like a desert angel, and played guitar like his heart was talking. He was honest, and honesty inspires artists no matter what their medium. He also knew how to write a hook, and cliché wasn’t in his vocabulary, so of course dance music has mined his hits for inspiration.
From the tropical to the bumpin’, here are some of our favorite Tom Petty remixes in tribute to his passing.
5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers vs Satin Souls – “You Got Lucky” (The LabTwins Mashup)
This fiery pairing is all dueling synths and persistent beat. It gives a bit of disco edge to Petty’s slit-eye romance. It can feel a bit clashy at times, but it still have groove. We’re lucky to have the update, either way.
4. Sandbar ft. Gregg Sutton – “Won’t Back Down” (Tom Petty Cover)
Sandbar is an alias for legendary producer Arthur Baker, the guy who gave you “Planet Rock,” remixed Bruce Springsteen, and co-wrote New Order’s “Confusion.” Here, he takes on the work of another American legend, giving new life to Petty’s timeless ode to resistance.
3. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Learning to Fly” (Vasquez Remix)
This jam from 1991 is even loftier with a progressive bassline and airy melodies. Get carried away by the breezy feel of it all and soar into a limitless feeling on shimmering synths. The four-on-the-floor will give you endless motivation.
2. Tom Petty – “It’s Good To Be King” (Emily Greene Cover)
This isn’t a Tom Petty remix so much as it’s a cover. We love how Greene brings out the melancholy on this 1994 solo Petty classic. She brings a raw vocal performance atop minimal, emotive electronic chords. It’s so intimate and striking, at times very like James Blake or Fiona Apple. This is gonna make your whole night pause.
Again, here we have a remix of a Tom Petty cover. John Mayer plays pretty on Petty’s classic bad-boy anthem. Matoma and Nelsaan come through with a tropical edit that’ll show you the silver lining in breaking girls’ hearts. Take another sip of this rum and forget the consequences.