As a result of my lifelong affinity for rock ’n’ roll and my relatively new capacity as a music journalist, which generally affords me a level of access not available to the average person, I’ve been fortunate to be there in person for performances by so many musical legends — Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Robert Plant, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks …

I know I’m lucky.

That doesn’t make me regret any less those artists I loved but never got to see and never will.

Like, say, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Even the lucky are losers sometimes.

It was announced early this year that, as part of his 40th-anniversary tour, Petty would be playing back-to-back shows in May at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colo. My wife was online, waiting for the exact moment the sale opened to the general public, hoping to surprise me with tickets to one of those shows, knowing my everlasting affinity for Petty.

They sold out pretty much instantaneously.

I was bummed, but figured that, even with his professed desire to reduce his touring schedule after this year, there would be other opportunities.

So imagine my surprise as Monday’s rollercoaster drama unfolded, ultimately culminating with, well, heartbreaking news.

You couldn’t listen to Tom Petty in your car and not bob your head to the chilled-out groove of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” not join in The Heartbreakers’ harmonized repetitive three-word backing vocals (“Learning to Fly”), not belt out those classic choruses with the man himself (“Now I’m freeeeeeee … free fallin’ ”).

May proved to be a gut-punch of a month when Chris Cornell, the silver-tongued singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame, took his life, and I selfishly lamented that I would never get to see one of my all-time favorite vocalists.

If Cornell was the voice of a generation, though, Petty’s was a voice that transcended generations. His voice, if not as pristine and powerful as Cornell’s, was no less distinct.

You wouldn’t look at Tom Petty and equate him with the stereotypical image of a quintessential rock star — given his long face, shaggy hair and toothy grin, to say nothing of his nasal delivery — but if you listened to his music with any modicum of attentiveness at all, you’d never dare argue he wasn’t one.

His songs were anthems for the everyman, expert narratives and simple-yet-crystalline stories of underdogs, rebels, tortured souls, the broken-hearted, the unabashed dreamers and the hopelessly optimistic.

His shapeshifting sound — incorporating everything from sun-drenched California jangle to bluesy Southern twang — appealed to metalheads, punks and classic rockers alike.

You couldn’t listen to Tom Petty in your car and not bob your head to the chilled-out groove of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” not join in The Heartbreakers’ harmonized repetitive three-word backing vocals (“Learning to Fly”), not belt out those classic choruses with the man himself (“Now I’m freeeeeeee … free fallin’ ”).

I just wish I could have done all of the above seeing them live in concert.

Last year, when it was announced that Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan would be reuniting GN’R, my all-time favorite band, I desperately wanted to road-trip to a show, but was hesitating over the sticker shock.

My mother-in-law talked some sense into me.

“They’re your favorite band?” Yes.

“And they haven’t played together in 20 years or so?” No.

“And there’s enough bad history between them that there’s no guarantee their reunion will last?” True enough.

“Then just buy the tickets. Just go. Why wouldn’t you see them when you have the chance?”

It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

If there’s anything positive to be taken from Petty’s passing, music fans, it’s this simple lesson — when in doubt, just go. You never know when “I’ll catch ’em next time” may be too late.