October 17, 2005

Billboard taps rocker Petty for Century Award

By Melinda Newman

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Tom Petty presented the inaugural
Billboard Century Award to George Harrison in 1992. Now it is
Petty's turn to receive the honor.

The Century Award, Billboard's highest honor for creative
achievement, will be presented to Petty December 6 during the
Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las
Vegas. The awards will be telecast live on Fox.

"This award comes at a particularly nice time, as the
Heartbreakers and I go into the 30th year of our career," Petty
says. "I'm very honored that Billboard has acknowledged me with
this award."

At 54, Petty shows no signs of slowing down. He and the
Heartbreakers just completed a successful North American tour,
drawing more than 550,000 fans to the 36 shows reported to
Billboard Boxscore.

Petty is wrapping up his third solo album, "Highway
Companion," due in the spring. While sources say he has been in
discussions with Sanctuary Records, there is no official word
on a new label home. He has recorded for Shelter,
Backstreet/MCA and Warner Bros.

Petty also has four songs in Cameron Crowe's new movie,
"Elizabethtown," and on the accompanying soundtrack, which came
out September 13.

Influenced by '50s rock and the British bands of the '60s,
Petty and the Heartbreakers crafted their own brand of rock 'n'
roll, generating such hits as "American Girl," "Breakdown,"
"Don't Do Me Like That," "Refugee," "The Waiting," "You Got
Lucky" and "Don't Come Around Here No More."

The Heartbreakers have sold more than 50 million albums
worldwide, including their top-selling "Greatest Hits," which
the Recording Industry Assn. of America has certified for U.S.
shipments of more than 10 million units. The group was inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Petty, a four-time Grammy Award winner, has interspersed
Heartbreakers projects with two well-received solo releases and
a pair of albums with supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, whose
other members were his musical heroes Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy
Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

In addition to Harrison, the Century Award has been
presented to Buddy Guy, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Carlos
Santana, Chet Atkins, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, Randy
Newman, John Mellencamp, Annie Lennox, Sting and Stevie Wonder.