NEW YORK — Tom Petty, the heartland rocker behind hits such as American Girl, will be honored at a gala ahead of next year’s Grammy Awards, it was announced on Wednesday.
The Recording Academy, which organises the music industry’s biggest night, named Petty as 2017’s Musicares Person of the Year to be feted in a concert before the awards.
Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, the 65-year-old Petty came onto the scene in the 1970s with his band The Heartbreakers, modernizing a classic rock style with hits such as American Girl, I Won’t Back Down and Free Fallin.
"Tom burst into our musical consciousness and never let go," Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said in a statement.
"His brand of rock and roll benefits from a celebratory rebelliousness, infectious rhythms and unforgettable lyrics that are incised in our imaginations," he said.
Musicares -- whose gala in Los Angeles next year will be on February 10, two days before the Grammy Awards -- raises money for musicians in need.
While primarily a fund-raiser and concert, the Musicares gala made unexpected news in 2015 as rock legend Bob Dylan, who in recent years has rarely given interviews, delivered a lengthy address about his career.
Besides his music, Petty is well-known for his advocacy for greater control by artists and has repeatedly accused record labels of greed.
Petty, a three-time Grammy winner, was inducted in June into the Songwriters Hall of Fame where in brief remarks he called music "much more important than money". AFP