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Tom Petty’s last dance: Watch late rocker play ‘American Girl’ at final concert

Rock icon Tom Petty’s sudden death on Monday has fans stunned, particularly those fans who saw him and his band, the Heartbreakers, end a 40th anniversary tour just a week before he died.

Rolling Stone reported that Petty’s final concert on Sept. 25 was the culmination of a 53-date tour that kicked off in April. His final song was one of his most popular, and the one that the magazine itself dubbed his greatest: “American Girl.”

Related story: Rocker Tom Petty has died at age 66, manager says

See Petty play his final song below.

Petty and his band ended each show on their final tour with the song, which the rocker first recorded in studio on July 4, 1976.

“The American Girl is just one example of this character that I write about a lot,” Rolling Stone quotes Petty saying about the song. “The small-town kid who knows there something more out there, but gets (expletive) up trying to find it. I always felt sympathetic with her.”

Shortly before the final tour began, Petty told the magazine, “If I was a fan, and they didn’t play, ‘American Girl’ or ‘Free Fallin,’ I’d be disappointed.” 

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A fan near the stage for that final concert at the Hollywood Bowl captured Petty’s last two songs, Rolling Stone said. He and the band played an encore of “You Wrecked Me,” followed by “American Girl.”

Kim Roberts, who posted the video to YouTube the day after the concert, wrote that her “tears (were) falling down” as she wrote Monday about Petty’s death.

“Tom Petty, you were a shining light in this world, a very special human being whose music impacted so many,” Roberts wrote

Petty told Rolling Stone in December that he believed the upcoming tour would be the last big one for him and the band.

“I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” Petty told the magazine. “It’s very likely we’ll keep playing, but will we take on 50 shows in one tour? I don’t think so. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thinking this might be the last big one.”

Petty talked about how he and his bandmates were aging, all moving into the “backside of (their) sixties.”

“I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road,” he said. “This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time.”

Today in Rock - March 6

David Gilmour of Pink Floyd is born (1946).

Led Zeppelin's double album Physical Graffiti is certified gold (1975).

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith welcomes his third child, a girl named Chelsea Anna (1989).

Eric Clapton is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.  Previously enshrined separately as a member of both Cream and The Yardbirds, he becomes the only three-time inductee (2000).

Today in Rock - Mar 5

Alan Clark of Dire Straits is born (1952).

Rock magazine Creem is released for the first time (1969).

Led Zeppelin performs “Stairway To Heaven” for the first time live, at the beginning of their “Thank You” tour in Belfast. It wasn’t well received (1971).

Joni Mitchell throws a party where mutual friend, Rod Stewart meets Swedish model/actress Brit Ekland, and thus began one of the most famous romances in rock history (1975).

Today in Rock - Mar 4

  • Happy Birthday Chris Squire of Yes (1948).
  • The very first Grammy Awards are held in NYC, but none of the winners are from the rock and roll genre (1959).
  • Jerry Lee Lewis’ house is stormed by the IRS, where they took $170,000 worth of his automobiles to pay back the debt he owed.
  • Janis Joplin arrives in Rio de Janeiro and goes public about kicking her drug and alcohol addiction. This came after being fined $200 for using explicit language at one of her concerts in Miami, FL the previous November (1970).
  • Sonny and Cher welcome their daughter, Chastity (1969).

Today in Rock - Mar 2

  • Happy Birthday Jon Bon Jovi (1962)

  • Simon and Garfunkel win a Grammy for “Mrs. Robinson” for Record of the Year (1969).

  • Paul McCartney’s wife Linda is arrested for having 8oz of marijuana in her purse after her and Paul are stopped for running a red light (1975)
  • The Beatles start production on their movie “Hard Days Night” and George Harrison met his future first wife, Patti Boyd (1964)

Today in Rock - March 1

During an interview with the London Evening Standard, John Lennon makes a controversial remark about The Beatles – "We're more popular than Jesus" (1966).

Pink Floyd releases their eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon.  It hits #1 and is labeled one of the best-selling albums worldwide (1971).

Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, is arrested in Miami, FL. He allegedly exposed himself on stage to the crowd while the band was performing at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove (1969).

Paul McCartney & Wings win a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for the song “Band on the Run” (1975).

The Beatles’ “Help!” is licensed and used in a Ford commercial, the first of its kind (1985).

Kaedy's Conversations - David Coverdale

Kaedy Kiely interviewed David Coverdale of Whitesnake back in 2000 - listen to part one.

She asked about Coverdale’s relationship with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, since he had worked with Jimmy Page on the Coverdale/Page project.(listen)



After recording two solo albums, former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale formed Whitesnake around 1977. In the glut of hard rock and heavy metal bands of the late '70s, their first albums got somewhat lost in the shuffle, although they were fairly popular in Europe and Japan. During 1982, Coverdale took some time off so he could take care of his sick daughter. When he re-emerged with a new version of Whitesnake in 1984, the band sounded revitalized and energetic. Slide It In may have relied on Led Zeppelin's and Deep Purple's old tricks, but the band had a knack for writing hooks; the record became their first platinum album. Three years later, Whitesnake released an eponymous album (titled 1987 in Europe) that was even better. Portions of the album were blatantly derivative -- "Still of the Night" was a dead ringer for early Zeppelin -- but the group could write powerful, heavy rockers like "Here I Go Again" that were driven as much by melody as riffs, as well as hit power ballads like "Is This Love."Whitesnake was an enormous international success, selling over six million copies in the U.S. alone.

Before they recorded their follow-up, 1989's Slip of the Tongue, Coverdale again assembled a completely new version of the band, featuring guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. Although the record went platinum, it was a considerable disappointment after the across-the-board success of Whitesnake. Coverdale put Whitesnake on hiatus after that album. In 1993, he released a collaboration with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page that was surprisingly lackluster. The following year, Whitesnake issued a greatest-hits album in the U.S. and Canada focusing solely on material from their final three albums (as well as containing a few unreleased tracks).

In 1997, Coverdale resurrected Whitesnake (guitarist Adrian Vandenberg was the only remaining member of the group's latter-day lineup), issuing Restless Heart the same year. Surprisingly, the album wasn't even issued in the United States. On the ensuing tour, Coverdale and Vandenberg performed an "unplugged" show in Japan that was recorded and issued the following year under the title Starkers in Tokyo. By the late '90s, however, Coverdale once again put Whitesnake on hold, as he concentrated on recording his first solo album in nearly 22 years. Coverdale's Into the Light was issued in September 2000, featuring journeyman guitarist Earl Slick. After a lengthy hiatus that saw the release of countless "greatest-hits" and "live" collections, the band returned in 2008 with the impressive Good to Be Bad. Coverdale and Whitesnake toured the album throughout Europe and Japan. The band returned to the recording studio in 2010 with new members bassist Michael Devin (formerly of Lynch Mob) and drummer Brian Tichy, who appeared alongside guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach, and guest keyboardist Timothy Drury (as well as Coverdale's son Jasper on backing vocals on various tracks). The band's 11th album, Forevermore, was preceded by the issue of the single, "Love Will Set You Free," and released in the spring of 2011. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, Rovi

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