This article was originally published in October 2016.
Chris Stapleton paid tribute to Tom Petty at a concert in Illinois by covering the Petty classic "Learning To Fly." And, as with anything Stapleton sings, he totally nails it.
"We played with Tom Petty earlier this year," Stapleton tells the crowd. "And last thing he said to me was I hope we get an opportunity to do this again. And I left there thinking we might. I sure am sad we're not going to get to."
Stapleton starts the song off acoustic with plenty of help from the crowd before the whole band kicks in and takes it to another level. Check out the full performance in the video above.
Chris Stapleton and Tom Petty's history goes back even further than this summer, though. Back in 2013, Petty gave an interview to Rolling Stone. In a quick blurb, he gave his thoughts on modern country music, which was going through its big bro country phrase.
Basically, Tom Petty said modern country sounded a lot like "bad rock with fiddle." And in a lot of respects, he wasn't wrong. He also lamented to absence of somebody like a modern George Jones on the radio dial.
But Stapleton responded with an open letter, letting him know how influential Petty is not just to himself, but pretty much everybody he knows in the country world. He invited some level of collaboration. That, of course, came before Stapleton's album Traveller put the singer on the international stage.
It took a few years, but the pair finally got a chance to play together. And apparently they had nothing but love for each other. Petty sadly passed away at 66 years old. He suffered a heart attack at his California home and passed peacefully after his family removed him from life support.
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