Author helps Tom Petty share his fascinating story
Tom Petty has always been notoriously private, but music journalist Paul Zollo draws an in-depth portrait by guiding him through these expansive interviews. It’s compelling to hear Petty’s evolution as his famous nasal delivery and jangly guitar make him a star and his groundbreaking songwriting gains the attention of a cast of legendary figures like Dylan, Johnny Cash and George Harrison.
Zollo’s comprehensive questions cover subjects ranging from the Heartbreakers’ struggle with record companies (“In truth, we were just a rock ’n’ roll band. But that was far too simple for people.”) to the weird genesis of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and the family dynamic of the Traveling Wilburys.
Petty is remarkably open about more-personal damage, like breaking his hand punching a wall during a recording session (“I shattered it. To powder.”) and the nightmarish fire that burned his house to the ground in 1987.
Petty is the classic rocker that made good in the New Wave age, and he comes across as a real working-class hero who’s truly grateful for his fans. When he tells them, “The more you give us, the more you’re gonna get,” you feel in your bones that he means it.