The senior members of the late Tom Petty's Heartbreakers have posted heartfelt messages on the group's official website to thank fans for their support since Petty's October 2 death at the age of 66 from a heart attack.
Guitarist Mike Campbell writes that, "Your condolences have been a life saver for me. This has been so surprising and devastating for me and the band as I know it has been for you. It will take a long time before I get over this. I will carry on for myself and all of you who love the music. I feel your love and am forever grateful for your support all these years. Remember, without you, all of our devoted fans, there would have been no Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom will always be here on my right shoulder urging me on to keep the dream alive and inspiring me with his spirit. He is a one of a kind and I will be eternally grateful for the years we rode together and the songs we wrote together. Bless you all from the bottom of my heart."
Keyboardist Benmont Tench adds, "I'm sure I don't need, nor do I really know how, to tell you how awful these past weeks have been. I know you all feel it too. What I do want to tell you is how much I appreciate your kindness and support. I've had the opportunity to hear from and speak with many of you, both in person in Los Angeles and New York, and through social media. You have been a great source of comfort. This band, and the extended family Tom gathered around him, is a strong and loving group of people, and we're all very tight, and all leaning on each other. Love will certainly see us all through this. For me, I just want to do what I've done since I was 18 or 19 years old: take what I've learned over these years, from Tom, about persistence, pursuit of and insistence on artistic excellence, and a certain kind of personal integrity, and continue to apply it going forward, in whatever 'forward' might be. Maybe each of us, of you, can do the same. And, of course, never forget to turn up to 10 and let that sucker blast."
Campbell and Tench both played with Petty in the Gainesville, Fla., band Mudcrutch before forming the Heartbreakers and were part of every one of the band's albums as well as Petty's solo efforts.
Tench also released a solo album, "You Should Be So Lucky" and played a concert in California on October 28, where he told the crowd, "You don't stop playing music on any account, for any reason, and especially when faced with such enormous loss. You play more, louder, quieter, faster, slower, sad, joyous, angry, celebratory, lovingly."
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.