The latest episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast pays tribute to the life and music of Tom Petty, who died October 2nd. It features unheard interview audio with the artist himself, plus a clip of Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and a live interview with Petty biographer Warren Zanes. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or check it out below.
Here, a few highlights:
In a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone Music Now host Brian Hiatt, Petty talks about making his album Mojo – and details his optimism about the future. “As time goes by, you seem to weed out the things that were making your life hard,” Petty says, before explaining his determination to keep recording and touring as long as possible: “Oh, I intend to hit it. I’m not going anywhere.”
In a 2015 interview with Andy Greene, we hear Petty explain – in remarks that went viral again in the wake of his death – why he regretting using the Confederate flag onstage in the ‘80s (tied to a character in the song “Rebels.”) “One night someone threw a flag onstage,” Petty recalls. “I said, ‘Look, this was to illustrate a character…. I would prefer it if no would would ever bring a Confederate flag to our show.”
In Greene’s interview with Mike Campbell, the guitarist reminisces about his years of collaboration with Petty. “Tom had, and still has a knack, for writing simple things that people can relate to,” Campbell says. “He has an affinity for finding a simple lyric a simple melody that’s instantly identifiable to a lot of people.” He also addressed the band’s relationship to punk and new wave: “The best quote I remember from that era is someone asked Tom, are you punk? He said, ‘Call me a punk and I’ll cut ya!'”
Biographer Warren Zanes talks about his book, Petty: The Biography, and why Petty was ultimately underrated. “I’d like to think that we’re at the beginning of a larger reassessment,” says Zanes. “The real testament.. is that Bob Dylan, Carl Perkins, Del Shannon… all knocked on his door. He had so many singles, so many hits that it kept the critics from backing him the way he should’ve been backed.”