Born in Gainesville, Florida, Petty quit high school at age 17 to join the band Mudcrutch, but his career took off when he met guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Belmont Tench. They released their self-titled debut album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, in 1976, but it was 1979's Damn the Torpedoes that catapulted him to global acclaim.
In 1988, Petty became part of one of rock's greatest supergroups, The Traveling Wilburys. Alongside Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison, the Wilburys recorded two albums, though Orbison died before the second album was completed.
A stalwart in the music world, combining Southern rock and California culture, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and Petty was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame last year.
His 1989 solo debut, Full Moon Forever, spawned some of the biggest hits of his career, and the ones that frequently comprised his epic live shows, including "Runnin' Down a Dream" and "I Won't Back Down." A true American icon, the rocker even played the ultimate venue in 2008: the Super Bowl.
Petty remained on the road until his death, recently wrapping a critically acclaimed 40th anniversary tour with his band.
Below, we look back at seven of his most iconic songs.