5 Fun Facts About Tom Petty. With Tom Petty’s recent Wildflowers reissue, we thought it’d be fun to throw out these Tom Petty nuggets too.
5 Fun Facts About Tom Petty (that you may or may not know already):
1.) The first time Tom Petty met a celebrity was when he was 11 years old. His uncle took him to see Elvis Presley, who happened to be shooting a movie nearby. He was introduced to Elvis, and simply said, “Hi”. After that, he became a bit obsessed with Elvis and listened to all of his records. That was when rock n’ roll really became a part of his life. He was similarly impressed by the Beatles when he saw them on the Ed Sullivan show. It was a moment during that performance when he realized that he wanted to be in a band.
2.) When Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers earned their Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1999, Tom Petty addressed the crowd at the ceremony. He said, “We used to walk up and down this street and look at the stars and never dreamed we would ever have one.” The band entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 (the first year that they were eligible). Tom Petty was not always famous though, and had pretty modest beginnings. He worked for a short time as a member of the grounds crew at the University of Florida, and even worked as a gravedigger at one point in his life.
3.) Tom Petty’s process when writing new music was similar to going fishing. As if waiting for a fish to bite, he’d stay in a room in his house and wait for a the inspiration for a song. Comparing the writing process to fishing, he said that “there’s either a fish in the boat or there’s not.”
He told Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times. ““It’s kind of a lonely work,” he said, “because you just have to keep your pole in the water. I always had a little routine of going into whatever room I was using at the time to write in, and just staying in there till I felt like I got a bite. “Sometimes you come home and you didn’t catch anything and sometimes you caught a huge fish. But that was the work part of it to me. … I just remember being excited when I had a song done, and I knew I had a song in my pocket, I always felt really excited about it.” Find the rest of that final (great) interview HERE.
4.) When Tom Petty and his band became known as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, there was a band that went by the name The Heartbreakers already. They were from New York and semi-popular, headlining CBGB and invited to open for the Sex Pistols on tour. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers chose the name anyway (the more the merrier right?) and their version of The Heartbreakers outlasted the original by many years. The other Heartbreakers’ final show was on November 30, 1990.
5.) Tom Petty wouldn’t back down… to a cold. He told Mojo Magazine that when he was recording the song “I Won’t Back Down” with George Harrison, he had a really terrible cold, but George Harrison had just the fix and quickly ran to the store for ginger. His method for clearing sinuses was to boil the ginger and then have Tom Petty breath in the steam. He did, and it worked long enough for him to record a take immediately after.*
*Unrelated to Tom Petty, but speaking of cold remedies… last October (when there used to be concerts), BEN-FM presented a show at the Keswick with Richard Marx and Rick Springfield. Richard Marx gave his recipe for his Voice Restoration Concoction, and tells how it once accidentally ‘cleansed’ Bryan Adams. It’s a pretty fun story (with a bit of language, watch the kiddos on this one) Find it HERE, with a few performances from the night too.
Bonus: Two movies that would not be the same without Tom Petty’s music.
1.) Silence of the Lambs: Catherine Baker Martin (daughter of Senator Ruth Martin), sings American Girl just before she is abducted by Buffalo Bill. (…um…spoiler alert).
2.) Tom Cruise’s character Jerry Maguire (in Jerry Maguire): singing Free Fallin’ in the car. A slightly happier scene than the Silence of the Lambs example.