It's hard to hear Kip Moore's emotional songs telling tales from the American heartland and not immediately think of Tom Petty. And indeed, Petty is one of Moore's treasured influences, listed himself as up there with some of country's greatest icons. "I've never been driven by having number one songs," Moore told Rolling Stone Country this summer. "I look to Petty, Merle Haggard."
Petty died Monday after suffering cardiac arrest age at 66, and Moore, abroad on tour in the UK, worked up a cover of Petty's "Learning to Fly" on stage at the Ritz Manchester on Tuesday. Stripped down and full of Moore's raspy belt, the parallels to his newest LP, Slowheart, are clear. Like Petty, he's a rocker at heart with a keen understanding of the small town, American soul.
Moore also took to his Instagram yesterday to further discuss Petty's legacy. "Tom Petty influenced so many in music, and I was definitely one of those," he wrote. "My buddy Tom Pritchett turned me on to his music when I was about 15. He had a low riding Honda prelude that had a stereo system I've yet to see matched and he would crank this song as loud as it would go... we felt like kings riding those back roads and Petty was the reason for that feeling."
A dedicated fan, Moore's been covering Petty for years: he's also offered live versions of "Free Fallin'" and "I Won't Back Down."
Moore plays London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire tomorrow.