Tom Petty was not only a legendary rock musician, but his influence on the genre of Americana cannot be overstated. With his blend of Southern sneer, garage-rock grit, and the stoned shimmer of California folk-rock, Petty's music had universal appeal that transcended geographical and genre boundaries. His music was steeped in roots, and his songs often reflected his Southern roots, from Louisiana rain to Southern accents.
In the mid-1990s, Petty collaborated with Johnny Cash on his album Unchained, with the Heartbreakers serving as his backing band. This collaboration marked the beginning of Petty's strong association with country music, a genre that he had a deep appreciation for. However, Petty was not always a fan of modern country music, once saying that it sounded like "bad rock with a fiddle." Despite this, his influence can be heard throughout the contemporary country music world, with Keith Urban's biggest hits, Kip Moore's Reagan-era Southern sweep, and Eric Church's Petty-worthy punch.
Petty's impact on the Americana genre can also be felt in the acoustic-friendly album Wildflowers, which is often cited as one of the genre's most influential works. Its rootsy rumblings set the stage for a new generation of Americana artists, from the hazy heartland epics of the War on Drugs to the character-driven songwriting of Jason Isbell.
Tom Petty's music was a bridge between different genres and a testament to the power of roots music. His influence on Americana is undeniable, and his legacy will continue to inspire and influence musicians for generations to come.