Tom Petty got his band the Heartbreakers back together for a high-class gig to launch the Grammy Awards weekend.
Foo Fighters, Don Henley, Norah Jones, Gary Clark Jr, Jackson Browne, the Head and the Heart, and George Strait were among those honouring the 66-year-old singer-songwriter as MusiCares Person of the Year on Friday night.
The American singer was toasted for his musical achievements and philanthropic work two days before the Grammy Awards.
It was quite the star-studded rehearsal for the Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary tour that begins April 20 in Oklahoma City.
After watching from backstage as other artists performed his music, Tom strapped on a guitar for Waiting for Tonight with the Bangles as his backup singers. Original Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, along with drummer Steve Ferrone, shared the stage.
During Don’t Come Around Here No More, Tom invited the crowd to dance in front of the stage and actress Dame Helen Mirren was one of hundreds who made her way to the front.
Stevie Nicks, whose friendship with Tom dates back to 1978, joined him for their hit duet Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.
“He is as sweet as he is talented,” Stevie told the audience.
Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison, son of the late Beatle George Harrison, joined Tom on I Won’t Back Down. He closed the show after midnight with Runnin’ Down a Dream.
Tom noted it’s been two years since he played with the band he formed in 1976 in his hometown of Gainesville, Florida. He has focused on producing music in recent years.
“I realised I’ve been in one of the two or three best rock bands there is,” he told the crowd after accepting his award.
Led by Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters earned the night’s first standing ovation for their version of Honey Bee. Gary joined them for Breakdown, riffing on his blues guitar in an extended jam.
Jackson, one of Tom’s contemporaries, sang The Waiting and Learning to Fly. Norah tapped her tall black cowboy boots as she sang Time to Move On and You Don’t Know How It Feels.
Don was backed by a five-piece horn section and hit all the high notes in Freefallin’.
Among the crowd in the vast Los Angeles Convention Centre hall were Starr, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Jam, model Kate Upton, actor John Stamos, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Olivia Harrison, wife of the late Beatle George Harrison.
Friday’s dinner and auction generated more than $8.5 million (£6.8 million), the highest grossing evening in the tribute’s 27-year history, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said.
MusiCares, run by the Recording Academy, provides financial assistance to individuals in the music industry during times of need.