On September 25, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It would be Petty’s final show before his untimely death just a week later at the age of 66. The 18-song set was jammed with the classics: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Learning to Fly,” “American Girl.” Songs even the most casual of terrestrial rock radio listeners would recognize.
The show was the last stop on the band’s 40th anniversary tour. Though it was intended to be his “last trip around the country,” Petty didn’t intend to quit playing. “I need something to do, or I tend to be a nuisance around the house,” he told Rolling Stone.
Petty remained a magnetic performer right until the end. Says Vulture about his final gig:
Petty remains the perfect combination of an everyman who is One of Us and a rock superstar definitely not One of Us … his slow-drawling, almost stoner-like asides creating the most relaxed possible atmosphere for the audience, even as those shades hide the sharp eyes of one of rock’s most historically astute craftsmen. Rather than take the posture of a towering figure, he spends a lot of the night hunched over his guitar, as if he means to creep up on us. He’s won us over without ever seeming like he’s trying to, which maybe is one factor in why America isn’t any more tired of him and his Cheshire grin in 2017 than we were in a pre-MTV era.
Below, watch the America’s coolest rocker perform some of the world’s finest driving songs for the very last time.