Runnin’ down a dream: Tom Petty to be celebrated as 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year

Tom Petty performs at the Honda Center in Anaheim in 2014.
Tom Petty performs at the Honda Center in Anaheim in 2014.
(Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)

Whether moving west down Ventura Boulevard, gliding down over Mulholland or living in Reseda with a freeway running through the yard, Tom Petty has soundtracked Southern California life for more than 40 years.

Those classic songs, including “American Girl,” “The Waiting,” “Wildflowers,” “Free Fallin’” and dozens of others, will be celebrated in February when Petty receives the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year award.

Announced Wednesday, the honor is presented by MusiCares, a Los Angeles charity that offers assistance to musicians and music professionals in need. The organization is the primary charitable arm of the Recording Academy, which presents the yearly Grammy Awards.


Previous winners have included Carole King, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan. The 2016 Person of the Year was Lionel Richie.

Said Petty in a statement regarding the news: “I am so very pleased to be honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year. I have so much respect for this organization, which really does care about the people in our industry. I myself know many people who MusiCares has aided in desperate situations. Again, let me say this is a true honor.”

The applause will officially occur on Feb. 10 as part of Grammy weekend, when the MusiCares annual charity gala will bring together a few thousand monied members of the music industry to celebrate Petty’s work.

The star-studded affair, which includes a silent auction of musical memorabilia, usually features once-in-a-lifetime performances, and given the breadth of Petty’s California life, expect a host of peers to congregate and play music.

Got a fat wallet or a bottomless expense account? This year, organizers will be selling a limited number of $75,000 VIP tables that include access to the sound check, red carpet, meet-and-greet, pre-show auction and a fancy lounge.

For information on tickets, tables and donations, check MusiCares.

There’s a lot of terrible music out there. For tips on the stuff that’s not, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit