The debut of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers came at a crucial time in American rock & roll history. Punk hadn't hit yet, and bloated rock dinosaurs like Bad Company and their ilk were still making life miserable for real rock & rollers. All the first generation roots-rock bands were gone. Petty's appearance marked the return of pure, unpretentious rock & roll that wasn't afraid to wear its '60s influences on its sleeve. The band's eponymous first album is full of Byrdsian ringing guitars, Dylan/McGuinn-style drawling vocals and pure pop hooks of the kind that hadn't been heard since the first Big Star album (and how many people heard Big Star at the time?). Petty also proved himself to be a world class pop songsmith on instant classics like "American Girl" and "Breakdown".