WHEN MTV GAVE TOM PETTY a special Video Vanguard Award in 19994, it was a very public acknowledgement of the imagination and hard work that has gone into a series of videos that have pushed the limits of a medium struggling to grow from a promotional tool to a genuine art form. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers began making music videos, for hits such as "Refugee" and "Here Comes My Girl," before there was an MTV or any other regular outlet for them. By the time the idea of cable music channels had taken hold, Petty was coming up with clips like "You Got Lucky" - a mini-Mad Max film that helped push other musicians to treat the form as more than a chance to lip synch and strum unplugged instruments. The psychedelic, Alice-in-Wonderland-on-acid "Don't Come Around Here No More" raised the stakes again, as Petty and the Heartbreakers demonstrated their intention to devote the same sort of creativity to their videos that they did to their records and live shows. From the lyrical juxtaposition of two generations of teenagers in "Free Fallin'" to the Award Winning "Mary Jane's Last Dance" featuring Kim Basinger, Petty treated his clips as small films. The narrative "Into the Great Wide Open," which features Faye Dunaway and Johnny Depp, actually resulted in offers to make Petty's story/song into a full length motion picture. Petty's reaction was, "It already is." Here are the best videos of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a powerful document of the early evolution of a new kind of art - and some rockin' tunes by a great band.
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