SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 03: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers kick off their summer 2014 tour in support of their latest album 'Hypnotic Eye' at Viejas Arena on August 3, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

I grew up listening to Tom Petty.  My parents didn’t listen to music much, but when I found MTV, it was life changing,  The first Tom Petty song that I was fully exposed to was “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”  An amazing Alice In Wonderland themed video and I was hooked on his hooks… which is CRAZY since Tom Petty had so many songs that were even better.

Tom Petty taught me about rebel courage: “I Won’t Back Down,” “Last DJ,” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels,”  to name just a few.  Before Tom released the album, Hard Promises, he had a HUGE fight with his record label because they wanted to charge a dollar more than most albums at the time and Tom didn’t think that was fair to his fans.  In the end, Tom won the battle.

Tom Petty taught me that “Mary Jane” was more than a woman’s name.

Tom Petty taught me patience by letting me know that I wasn’t the only one who thought that “The Waiting” was the hardest part.

Tom Petty taught me that music can heal.  According to VH1, more people have come out of comas while listening to “Free Fallin'” than any other song.

Tom Petty taught me that a great live show doesn’t need a lot of flash.

Tom Petty was effortlessly cool and amazingly messy.  He worked as a grave digger before he was a rock star.  He had his house set on fire by an arsonist… while he was in it.  He declared bankruptcy to fight unfair treatment from his record label.  Tom Petty came off like a pacifist who was never afraid to fight.

Thanks for everything you gave, Tom.  Your music, your heart, your soul.  Your star will always shine brightly.

– Donielle Flynn