How Tom Petty's Legacy Transcends Genres With Historic Country Tributes

By Kelly Fisher

June 21, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Country’s most notable legends and current hitmakers honored late rocker Tom Petty with a long-awaited tribute album that arrived on Friday (June 21). The historic, 20-track album includes iconic hits throughout the singer-songwriter’s decades-long career, curated by many of Petty's closest friends and collaborators. Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs, Lady A, Wynonna Judd, Lainey Wilson, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, George Strait and many others deliver renditions of Petty’s songs on Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty.

The tribute album illustrates Petty’s dynamic career and musical influence transcending genre lines. Scott Borchetta, George Drakoulias and Randall Poster with oversight from Petty’s daughter, Adria Petty, according to information from the Nashville, Tennessee-based record label. Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty infuses country flare — spotlighting his previously-established roots in the genre, despite the globally-embraced icon becoming known for his rock music and California anthems — while remaining true to the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s career.

“There’s a saying in Nashville ‘it all begins with a song’,” Bluegrass pioneer Marty Stuart said in a statement. “Well, in this case, it begins with the song and the songwriter. I don’t think anybody can challenge Tom Petty when it comes to songwriting. He touched the American heart—critics, fans, the musicians, everyone agrees on Tom’s songs. There’s just a special magic about him. …It’s incredibly rare to find musicians who can navigate and completely understand the intersection of Rock & Roll, Country, Gospel and Folk. That’s what Tom (Petty) & The Heartbreakers did so well. They’re America’s greatest Rock & Roll band.”

Dierks Bentley was the first to release a single from the tribute album earlier this year, followed by several others in recent months. Bentley performs late 1970s classic “American Girl.” He borrowed Petty’s guitar when he filmed a music video that premiered earlier this year, calling the experience “surreal.” Other artists, including Parton, were “fortunate enough to know Tom over the years,” she noted with her rendition of the mid-80s track, “Southern Accents.”

Earlier this month, ahead of the tribute album’s debut, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled a display that details Petty’s southern roots and his influence on artists in the country genre. Tom Petty: Where I Come From — which includes the late singer-songwriter’s guitar, stage wear, his handwritten song manuscript for “Southern Accents,” and other artifacts — is included with museum admission. It will remain on display through summer 2025, per a press release issued on June 14.

Petty and Petty Country will also take the spotlight among the famous stretch of honky tonks on Lower Broadway in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend. “Petty Country, USA” kicks off at midnight on Friday with bars playing “American Girl,” and runs through Sunday (June 23), with dozens of bars on and around Broadway hosting hour-long “Petty Pour Hours,” according to a press release issued by the record label on Thursday (June 20). Participating locations include Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge, Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa, Lainey Wilson’s Bell Bottoms Up, Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar and many others.

Find the full Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty album on iHeartRadio here.

Watch the story behind the album here, and see the full track list below.

1. “I Should Have Known It” by Chris Stapleton

2. “Wildflowers” by Thomas Rhett

3. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” by Luke Combs

4. “Southern Accents” by Dolly Parton

5. “Here Comes My Girl” by Justin Moore

6. “American Girl” by Dierks Bentley

7. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” by Lady A

8. “I Forgive It All” by Jamey Johnson

9. “I Won’t Back Down” by Brothers Osborne

10. “Refugee” by Wynonna Judd & Lainey Wilson

11. “Angel Dream No.2” by Willie Nelson & Lukas Nelson

12. “Learning To Fly” by Eli Young Band

13. “Breakdown” by Ryan Hurd feat. Carly Pearce

14. “Yer So Bad” by Steve Earle

15. “Ways To Be Wicked” by Margo Price feat. Mike Campbell

16. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Midland

17. “Free Fallin’” by The Cadillac Three feat. Breland

18. “I Need To Know” by Marty Stuart And His The Fabulous Superlatives

19. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Rhiannon Giddens feat. Silkraod Ensemble and Benmont Tench

20. “You Wreck Me (Live)” by George Strait

Tom PettyChris StapletonDolly PartonWynonna JuddLuke Combs
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