Episode 53: You Belong Among the Wildflowers (Tom Petty)

Welcome to our first ever fan-picked topic! We asked what you most wanted to hear, and Tom Petty was the clear winner. Leah walks through his entire musical career, from Mudcrutch to solo work, and everything in between. As a special bonus, you’ll hear from Brian Colburn from Playlist Wars about the album Wildflowers (and more!). 

Tom Petty had a long and fruitful career, and worked on many projects. In addition to his solo work and work with The Heartbreakers, Tom was also a part of the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup created by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne.

Episode Transcription

We are approaching spooky season spooky season. This’ll be spooky season, round three guys. I’m excited. I, you all know how much we look forward to our spooky episodes and we’re getting a really unique, I would say episode for spooky season. I forgot what we were doing, but yes. Yeah, the don’t don’t spoil it.

The thingy with the. And the big apple, big fucking clues chocolate. That’s your head? It’s stranger. Oh, you’re talking about a bonus episode. Not actual episodes that we’re doing. Thank you. Thank you. No, I was very confused. I was like, who the hell are you covering? That’s not who I thought you were covering.

No, no, no. But we have some really cool plans lined up for spooky season. So now that I remember what they are, yeah. They’re going to be fun. Uh, but my question is as spooky season approaches, She’s a rockstar and choose a costume and choose a Halloween party location. Okay. I’ve been wanting to be this for years, but I haven’t had like a, cause there’s a metal Halloween party and like two Halloweens.

I feel like I really want to dress up as I want to break free Freddie mercury, where he dresses up the lady with the, the vacuum. Yeah. So that, and then we’re going to have the party. I don’t know, we can just have it at someone’s house, but I want to wear that costume with the tank top, like the pink.

Outfit. I have bangs. Now I can pull it off. Yes. Okay. Here’s what I want to do. I need a mustache. I’ve thought about this in my life. So it was a little raunchy, but I’m going to do it anyway. So Janice Joplin, I’m trying to remember if it was a cover for something, but she has. Photo of her topless with these beads.

Now I’m not going to go topless. It was a cover for something. Yeah, it was a cover for time. I’m not going to go personally topless cause that’s a smudge out of the comfort. So I’m not quite on the free the nipple train quite yet. Fair fair. But I’m going to get a breastplate like drag Queens get, and it’ll look like it.

There you go. And then I’ll so it’s literally covered. You know, covering, but I’m still in costume and the party is going to be at Bethel woods where Woodstock action happened. That’s going to be a, she would rack you 20, 23 Halloween. Yeah. We’re going to run out the Woodstock site and having that would be fun.

We should, we should do an episode sometime from there. We should probably can pull some strings just set up in the woods and just like do just hide around the campus. Yes. Yes. Well, bullet block at or something weird. I don’t know what we’ll do. And this is, she will rock you.

We should read a review because we did not read a review this week. And I know which review I want to read because we got a new one again. Sorry that I’m skipping all over the queue of overviews. I want to get some of this. Apparently I have to go to our text thread because I’m. While you’re pulling that up.

Can I, can I just lodge a complaint? Sure. The Snapple company, what the fuck happened? You got rid of your glass bottles. You got rid of that. Be sun. And the cap is a plastic twist cap. Where’s the. That’s the, that’s the fun fatty point. I’m drinking a Snapple every Saturday, every Saturday in New York, growing up as a young buck, I’d get a bagel and I’d get a Snapple.

You had to be peach or raspberry. And I look forward to reading that Snapple fact. And now I just see a regular. Like the other corporate America teas. Yeah. That’s pretty boring. Anyway, I found it. We got a new review from our friend, Thomas Carter, Rochester of lights, thunder action. You may also know him as Thor.

If you follow him on social media, they also know him as the jelly bean voiceover guy. So he said for those about to rock, we stand this podcast, Leah and Bethann are hilarious individuals. And when you put them together, there’s a fire that burns brightly like a Phoenix that hasn’t done. Because rock will never die, nor will the chemistry between, I just realized you’re supposed to be reading this because it’s my week.

That’s all right. Good to continue. You can have my slot. Okay. Like a Phoenix that hasn’t died yet because rock will never die, nor will the chemistry between co-hosts. Did they dive into the history of my parents’ life soundtrack? Shout out to the hippie parenthood, millennials. If you’re not listening to this podcast and are simultaneously reading this review, then grab some headphones, grab a beer, crank it up to 11 and Lynn, she will rock you podcast, make rock love to your brain.

And then it’s a little mic drop. I love Thomas Thomas is like, you know, we’ve made an amazing community of people and Thomas has become like one of my favorite people in this community that we’ve been a part of. And I’m met Thomas because of the. But I bet because we both listened to, um, return to the pod formerly formerly known as another name.

That’s now dead because they got sacked by the company they were working under. But, uh, if you like star wars, checkout, return to the pub and definitely check out lights, Sunder access, you like Marvel checkout lights, that direction. There’s a lot of Marvel stuff getting ready to happen. So. Uh, today we have the episode that our lovely listeners voted on.

I did a little bracket, it got a little out of hand. I had the wiggles in there for way too long. I’d like to thank the audience for, uh, downvoting the wiggles. That was a close one. You motherfuckers made it way too close, way too close. They made it to that round three of five. So they, I think they got slaughtered by it.

Might’ve been Tom Penn. That finally knocked the wiggles down. But, um, I’m talking about Tom petty because he won by a landslide and I’m the runner up of that pole may make an appearance very soon. No one probably knows that is anymore. So surprise when we get there, but I couldn’t let that person slide.

But today talking about Tom petty, who I have to say going into this with someone I did not know much about, I only know a song he did with Stevie Nicks. I knew that he and Stevie were not lovers are really good friends. Um, and I knew that he did wildflower. And I knew he did don’t back down, which isn’t that Nickelodeon and Barnard movie.

And that was kinda all I knew. So let’s talk about Tom petty. Tom petty was born on October 20th, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. We got our first Floridian. Is this really the first time we’ve talked about Florida, man, I’m pretty sure. Wow. I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head now. Most rock stars are not from Florida.

And there’s a reason for that. Yeah. He got out of Florida really fast. We will see. He’s the oldest son or the first or Tucson’s to kitty petty, which is not a good name. Sorry, Katie, uh, who worked in the local tax office and Earl petty, who was a traveling salesman. He had a younger brother named Bruce who was seven years younger.

My, my little brother’s seven years younger. So we have that in common. And Tom was a very rebellious child. I watched the VH1 behind the music. And his dad tells a story about how, when Tom was four years old, he found a quarter and he wanted to go to town to spend it. But his dad told him he was too young to go alone because he was four and he needed to wait until his mom when he got home.

So little itty-bitty Tom just puts a quarter in his pocket and starts walking towards town, um, which got him a spanking. But his dad said also set the way for how he lived his life. Did what he wanted. Damn. Uh, according to Tom, his father found it very difficult to accept that he was a mild-mannered kid who was interested in the arts and not sports, um, and regularly subjected him to both verbal and physical abuse on a regular basis.

So rockstar, checkbox of shitty dad checked, but he was always really close to his mother and. He started getting interested in rock and roll music at the age of 10 when he met who else, but Elvis Presley I’ll do it. Um, so in that summer of 1961, when he was 10, the, he lived near Ocala, Florida, which at the time was a really big filming location.

And his uncle actually worked on the set of the Elvis Presley film, follow that dream. And he just brought his nephew to work one day. And he instantly became obsessed with Elvis Presley. He like went back home after the strip was uncle. This is a Forrest Gump story. It really continue because he goes back home for this trip to a Kala and trades his beloved whammo Slingshot.

To someone, I don’t know who, but he gets a box of Elvis Presley singles and the rest of his course of his life was set. Wow. So he sacrificed his Slingshot and in 2006 interview with Tom petty said that he knew he wanted to be in a band. The minute he saw the Beatles on ed Sullivan. So this is your, this is your classic rock star or what movies have been based off of pretty much.

I’m not sure. Citing Forrest Gump at this point. Yeah. Um, he said the minute that I saw the Beatles on the ed Sullivan show and it’s true of thousands of guys, this is my way out. This was the way to do it. You get your friends and you’re a self-contained unit and you make the music and it looked like so much fun.

And it was something that I identified with. I never been that hugely into sports. I’ve been a big fan of. But I saw in the Beatles that there was something that I could do. I knew I could do it. And it wasn’t long before there were groups springing up and garages all over the place. Um, Tom’s dad bought him his first guitar for a whole $28.

Wow. That’s a diesel. It is it’s steel. He did not steal it though. Unlike some other people we’ve talked to, uh, and he immediately became obsessed. And in this interview of his dad, his dad was like, he had that thing attached to him for. Years days, nights, wherever he went and he just eat, sleep and play guitar.

And then in ninth grade he starts his very first band. As, as all ninth grade boys do, they’re called the sundowners, not the worst name, not the worst, very Floridian. They only last for two years. Um, but they get them into a little bit of trouble. Because he’s so obsessed with being in a band. Then in a year of school, he misses 42 days.

What was he doing? He was skipping to go rehearse and play, but like that means the other guys skipped 42 days. I don’t know if they were with him. I don’t know if he was so he just did it for fun. He just really was obsessed with playing guitar. Why didn’t he just like, bring it to school and like play.

Practice room like the rest of us. I don’t know. Somehow he did manage to graduate high school at some presses. I don’t know how that’s super impressive. Um, but I clearly, he did not go to college because he had other dreams, um, somewhere around this time, not specifically. Sure. If he was in college or rightly freshly out of college, he starts a band known as the epics.

Okay. Which later evolved into. Mud crutch, um, wrong direction, but I don’t like it. They named mud crutch after the farm where two of the band members lived mud crutch, farm. That’s a terrible name for a farm. It’s a terrible name for a farm. It’s a terrible name for a band that’s in the Americana rock scene.

It’s very much. Metal band. Why? Because mud, because mud, yeah, it might cry. I see how you feel about my people. They have a band called puddle of mud. Okay.

We don’t claim them, but rock. Anyway. Um, so the band would eventually become the Heartbreakers, um, and included future heartbreak member, Heartbreakers members, Mike Campbell, and a guy named Ben Mott Tench, which he has the worst name ever. I’m sorry, Ben Mont. Um, and they were popular in Gainesville, but that was about it.

Yeah. There’s not a lot happening in Florida for the music scene. Um, they all lived and rehearsed in this literal shack on the edge of town. They had a field of. It was mud crutch farm in 1971, they held the first ever mud crutch farm festival that got them shut down by the cops and then evicted from the property.

Why? I just see like, like as if it was raining and it’s just muddy and people are just like sliding in the mud, like we’re talking Woodstock, it’s Florida. So that’s probably how it happened. They’re really loud. It just didn’t go over well. And so they stayed around Gainesville for a couple more years, but by 1974, they’re like, okay, we got to get out of Florida.

They sent demo tapes to LA, they got some interest. And so they were like, all right, let’s move to LA. And so they pack everyone up in a van and they go to LA entertain, these offers. And once in LA they sign with shelter records. Um, and. In the first recording session for this, this record deal, they’ve gotten, they very quickly learned that just because they could play it live did not mean they could make a record.

Um, two very different things and the label didn’t like the other guys writing. They only wanted to record the songs that Tom wrote. Of course the rest of the band. Didn’t like so much. Right. Um, so they ended up releasing a single Depot street. By the time this comes out, the band has broken up. Mud crutches no more.

So Tom says fine. I don’t want to like move back to Florida. I want to stay in LA. So he starts to make a solo record and he uses session players. He wasn’t, he didn’t love it. Like he, he wanted to be at a band since he saw. The Beatles on ed Sullivan, like he’s a band guy. Um, so while he is, you know, figuring his life out, he ends up getting married to a woman named Jane in 1974.

They do later get divorced in 1996. Um, but she, Jane is important because. His wife, but also because, um, when Jane wants met Stevie Nicks at a party, she said that she met Tom at the age of 17, but with her little north Florida accent, Stevie heard edge of 17 and then wrote a hit song about it. Really? Yes.

She’s the inspiration behind EDRA 17. Yes, that’s so cool. This episode is not really the time or place to go into the Stevie Tom relationship. Cause that’s, that’s a whole episode in itself. Um, but they were really good friends for over 40 years before he died. Um, and they worked together closely pretty much his entire life.

Um, so that’s all I’ll say about that, cause there’s a lot of other stuff to talk about. So now Tom is married, they’re living in LA he’s figuring out what he wants to do in his life. Um, and he decided. Let’s make a new band and they make Tom petty and the Heartbreakers, he brings back Mike Campbell and, uh, Mike Campbell plays, lead guitar and Ben Mont and Tench on keys from mud crutch.

But they also add Ron Blair on bass and Stan Lynch on drums and they release a self-titled debut album, Tom petty, and the Heartbreakers great name. I don’t know why they named it. The Heartbreakers. I didn’t put that in here for some reason normally. Um, and it was, it did okay. In the U S but it did way better in Britain because they have class.

I don’t know. They have tastes does not recognize their own talent as we have discussed. That is true. You’ve always make it in the country. You’re not from it’s the moral of this pet podcast. Hello UK. We have Venezuela, Canada and Sweden. We get a lot of you from Sweden. Um, so from the start, the group had like a different sound than a lot of bands at the time they took this.

Influenced from the fifties and sixties rockers, they loved, um, like the Elvis’s and the Beatles. Um, and they wrapped them up in these like three minute really well-written nuggets. I don’t know where I got that sentence from, but I wrote it in here. You know, it’s, it’s a well articulated sentence, Leah, their early singles included breakdown and a song that I guarantee you, everyone listening knows American girl.

Um, but it would be two more years before that. The big time. It, they did so bad after this album came out that at one point, Ben Monton, Tench calls his local radio station, wherever he’s living at the time and asks them to play something by Tom petty and the Heartbreakers. And they told him we don’t play that shit here.

Oh my God. That is like a straight arrow to the. He tells that story in the VH1 special. And you can tell, he just was like, he’s still not over it. Yeah, it’s a right. His time will come. They will get famous obviously. Or we would not be talking about. Um, so in the late summer of 1977, there song anything that’s rock and roll chartered in the UK.

And so this was their chance to get some momentum going, because it’s clearly not happening over here. So they go to the UK and opened for a guy named Niels Laskin. And when they get back to the U S they’re working really hard to get their momentum up. And they get a gig and they whiskey a go go, oh, nice opening up for this new band called Blondie.

You might’ve heard of them. Um, and then actually got that gig, got them attention of Aus record buyer. And they ended up getting their first, top 40 single with breakdown in 1978. So then we get into our favorite topic on the show record label, legal drama. Whew. I live for the legals. There’s a lot of legal drama with Tom petty and I cut some of it out, but it’s important to understand where and how Tom was being treated by his record label to understand Tom.

So in 1970, They’re still, he’s still signed with shelter records, which he signed that original deal with mud crutch. They kept him, um, shelter gets acquired by ABC records. And this really worries, Tom, because shelter had kind of just like, let them do what they want. They weren’t very controlling. And he was really worried about losing the autonomy that.

Had for the last, at least I think it’s been like four years at this point. So he renegotiates his contract with ABC to ensure that things are going to be the same. The band’s not going to get support. Um, and he, like, they finish these negotiations. And ABC turns around and sells the whole company to MCA records.

Like that’s a Dick move. It’s a really Dick move. Like, why would you that pisses me off? Like they had to have known they were in the process of it. It pissed him off too, because he felt like he was being treated like a piece of meat. Um, so he sued them, but his legal team was like, you know, let’s, this is not worth our fight.

Let’s just go get a new record label. So. There they do some, I don’t even know. They just illegal stuff. They get out of the deal that they made when back when they were a mud crutch, because they just been like renewing it. Um, but under the royalty rate that they were being paid, they could never pay back the amount of money that they had been fronted with shelter records.

So they would forever be in debt. So the band has to declare a bankruptcy. Ooh, get things rearranged that they can get out of their contract. Um, Which was a really shitty thing for the time. No, but really shook things up in the industry and a lot, a lot of artists to get out of their bad contracts, uh, around the same time.

So. Good for them. The ultimate irony is that they end up staying with MCA in the end because they do the bankruptcy. Yeah. They do the bankruptcy. They have do the bankruptcy. They declare bankruptcy. Um, they’re looking for a new deal and they ended up staying with MCA because they meet a new, younger record rep who was able to get Tom and the band, the royalty payout, and the autonomy that they wanted.

So they kind of just like. It was a lesson in all legal parties involved, right lesson for the record label water under the bridge, they go make a new album. It is not the last illegal drama that we will encounter with this group. Uh, in 1978, they released their third album. This is still when they’re Tom petty and the Heartbreakers it’s called damn the torpedoes.

And this album did really, really well. It very, very quickly went platinum, um, which is a big turnaround from not being played on the radio there. The singles office album were don’t do me like that, which hit number 10 in the U S which the first, top 10 single and refugee, which hit 15 in the U S and this is their breakout album.

So what happens after that? There’s pressure to do it again from the record label, that’s already fucked them over once. And so they start working on their next. Which is hard promises. And Dan starts fighting specifically between Tom and drummer, Stan Lynch. And for visualization purposes, I want you to picture uncle Joey from full house.

Okay. That’s Stan. Cause they kind of look alike and they have the same personality. Um, this is a great analogy. It’s very accurate. Stan describes himself as being the asshole of the band and being the clown. Like he just, he would just goof off just for the attention, but it out. Yeah, pretty much, pretty much.

Um, you can, you can tell that when they did this interview, he had grown up a lot, but he he’s looking back and he’s like, yeah. Tom had every reason to hate me back in the day. Cause. So at least he acknowledges it. He acknowledges it. He knows that he would pick fights just to pick fights when he could have just, you know, agreed and moved on.

Um, he ends up getting fired for a few days during. This recording process, but they did welcome him back. Um, they finished the album and, uh, they run into record trouble. Again, when they’re getting ready to release hard promises, the label wants to release the album at the list price of nine 90. Which at the time was called superstar pricing.

It was a whole dollar more than the usual price of 8 98. And Tom didn’t like this because he didn’t want to charge his fans more money. There was literally no reason to make it nine. They didn’t necessarily need the money. Um, and he didn’t want to become an issue with his fans. So they were like, fine.

You don’t get the album if we can’t get the price that we want. Like the royalties, no, Tom, Tom is going to withhold the album from the record label. I see. Okay. He said you can either not have the album or we’re going to call the album 800.

Um, move. I love it. As a chess move, you have just moved the Roark into the right position. They don’t call him Tom petty for nothing.

He did win that battle. MCA said fine, we’ll sell it at 8 98. And they ended up releasing it with the original name of hard promises. But now I want it to be 8 98, 8 98. That would have been amazing. Um, and he says in an interview that I watched, he may have won the battle, but he did not win the war.

Because the record label made him pay for that stunt for a very long time. Oh yeah. I bet. Oh, he did not get treated well, the album did you really well though, it was a top 10 hit. It went platinum. It had a hit single called the weighting. It also includes the duet insider with Stevie Nicks. Um, and then in 1982, Ron Blair, the bassist, he just leaves.

One day. He just says, ban life is too much for me. And just pieces out by yo, what do you go do? He just retired. Okay. Um, it kind of shocked the band. They didn’t really, they weren’t expecting that. He was going to leave. Uh, and they had just kind of scrambled to find her placement. They do their place in the guy named Howie Epstein that fall and start recording their fifth album, which is called long after dark in 1982.

And once again, Stan gets fired for a few days. He says what a trend. He says, there’s two things you can do to get fired for a band sucking or having a bad attitude. And I probably did both. I really liked Stan. We stand, stand, stand, stand after. Long after dark is released. It’s a lot of afters. They toured for 18 months straight.

Geez. That’s a long time. And then immediately went right in the top home studio to start working on the next album. That’s a long that’s. That’s a long time. No rest in that being together. I mean, we already know Stan and Tom weren’t getting along. Yeah. That’s a long time to be together. And then they go right into his house.

Like a hiatus would have been nice even a month. Probably what a cooled the temperature down a little bit, probably a, and they go into this session with the idea of drawing inspiration from their Southern roots and life and Florida.

Now there’s an issue because these sessions are just happening in Tom’s house. There is no producer overseeing them, which means that these sessions turn into one long two year party. Of course it does. What’s going to make, that’s going to make the record label happy, but you know what else enters the picture drugs cause this cocaine, cause we’re there.

And the record label and people involved at the time got really concerned that the album was not going to happen because the drugs got so bad. Uh, they say in, in, in the interviews that they managed to keep Hollywood out of their lives and to this point, but Tom met some really bad people and got into a really bad place and it came close to just everything blowing up in their faces at one point.

Tom got so frustrated during the mixing process that he punched a wall and broke his left hand. Oh, geez. Yeah. Which one? Your life is playing guitar. He was a Kyle before Kyle’s were Kylin. Yeah, it took surgeons rebuilding his hand with wire and stuff. Holy cow. And nine months of physical therapy to be able to play guitar properly.

Again, he punched it hard. Yes. Yes, that’s insane. Um, but don’t worry. Things get relatively back to normal because in 1985, the band partakes in live aid, the Philadelphia one, not the London one, uh, they play four songs at the Philadelphia leg. And later that year they release Southern accents, which is probably the band’s best known album.

At least if you have grew up in Virginia, like I did this includes don’t come around here no more, which was produced by Dave Stewart. I don’t know why I put that in there. It’s not important. Um, and the song’s video is really fucking well. Really fucking weird. It features Tom petty dresses, the mad Hatter, and he’s chasing Alice from Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

And then at one scene, he cuts her and eats her like she’s a cake. So really it was a Tik TOK trend of, is this cake for techniques? Well, you did say he was on cocaine. So, uh, cocaine was definitely involved in the planning of this video. I don’t like that though. That bothers me. The video makes me really uncomfortable and I don’t want.

Yeah, I probably wouldn’t watch it. I’d rather watch the Aerosmith pink video, then watch this video and that says something. So what do they do after they released this? They got a tour again, but they ended up touring with Bob Dylan. Ooh. Which he’s going to be a key player in a minute. Uh, the tour led to the live album.

Pack up the plantation live. And then they joined Bob Dylan on his true confessions tour, and they also played some dates with the grateful dead in 1986 and 1987. Nice. Just a lot of, um, collaboration happening in this space in 1987. Because Tom loves legal drama. This isn’t really drama, but, uh, he sued com tire company, BF Goodrich for a million dollars because they were using a jingle in a commercial that was really similar to his song.

Mary’s new car. Um, the ad agency said that they had sought permission to use Tom song, but they, but Tom said no. And so they. I wrote a really similar song. Yeah. Well not don’t do that. Yeah, don’t do that. That’s not a good idea. And so the judge ruled in Tom Petty’s favor, issued a restraining order, prohibiting the ad from playing anymore and they settled out of court.

Um, but it made a pretty big statement on artistic control and freedom. And. We’ll see some more instances of this happening and a little bit. So they release, let me up. I’ve had enough in 1987, which was between tours with Bob Dylan. Cause they they’re now bros, Bob Dylan, and then Tom, isn’t the news for something.

Kind of crazy. It is crazy. His home just fucking catches on fire while him, his wife, his kids, and his housekeeper in it. Jeez, it was, it was a very traumatizing experience. They were just chilling. And a fire alarm goes off and they have to rush outside. Uh, the housekeeper got burns on her head and arms, but the family got out on harmed, but this is a massive fire.

It took 10 fire companies and 40 firefighters an hour to put out the blades because it was just burning so hot and fast. Um, Amazingly like the whole house with a smoking ruin, but the basement recording studio was unharmed. That’s fantastic. So that’s a lot of money to replace that. Yes. Um, and so like your house catching on fire, wasn’t traumatizing.

Investigators learned that it was an arson, like someone walks into a stairwell doused the back staircase with a flammable liquid. Um, are you kidding? No. To this day, like I, when I was pulling this together last week, I was looking for new information. The case is still unsolved, so, okay. So, so we’re just waltz into his house.

With no one knowing Nope. And start to fire and walks out. Yup. Like w do you not keep your doors locked? This is the seventies. No. Why? Because it’s the seventies. This is why there’s a serial killer problem in California. This is why you all like we’re people just that trusting in the second. That like, I will be totally fine.

Nothing bad is going to ever happen to me to be as big of a celebrity as he was and not have like a security. Yes. Well, that’s the thing. I was like, where’s a T and T or whatever. It’s called ADT. And I’m like, oh, the bodyguard. Yeah. It wasn’t 1980s. What? This is 87. Yeah. So 87. So surely some security system has to be out by then.

Apparently not. Well, yeah, I had no clue that his house caught on fire like that it’s crazy. Especially because someone just waltz in and was like, you know, I’m going to set Tom Petty’s house on fire today. That’s insane. Some crazy fan I’m. Sure. And maybe an anti fan. I don’t know. Um, but because Tom petty has no chill, he goes on tour two days later.

Uh, homeless with no possessions, but he did say that being on tour was really therapeutic because otherwise he would have no structure in his life. And like touring was something that he knew and could do and felt productive. So traumatizing life experience. So on this tour, after his house fire, he meets our friend, Jeff Lynn.

That Jeff Lynne of ELO. Oh, which if you have not listened to that episode after this one, go back and listen, because Jeff Lynn is a fascinating person. He is, um, he is also going to be important. So pen him for a second. Uh, Jeff Lynne and Tom petty wrote free fallen together, which I did not know. Yes. I didn’t know that.

I didn’t know that either. And I didn’t know those, a Tom petty song until now, I think, was you to someone just turning the show off? I’m sorry. I got blind spots in my rock history. What can I say? I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Um, and once they wrote that song, Tom released his first solo album after a decade of being with a heartbreaker.

Just the band was not super thrilled about, well, it’s kinda like you’re ready, Tom petty and the Heartbreakers. It’s not like the Heartbreakers and Tom penny going solo. You’re really just like axing half a your name, the good, good point. But th the band wasn’t thrilled with it. Um, so on top of being in the heartbreaker, Or Tom petty and Heartbreakers and his solo career.

He also gets another project going without the Heartbreakers, which the time has come. Folks. We’re talking about our first supergroup. Whew. So in 1988, Tom petty joins George Harrison’s super. The traveling Wilburys, which also includes Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynn. That’s a good lineup to damn good lineup.

Um, this had been a pet project or like a dream project, George Harrison for awhile. He first mentioned the traveling. Publicly during a radio interview in February, 1988, he had just released his cloud nine album and they asked like, what are you going to do now? And he said, what I’d really like to do next is do an album with me.

And some of my mates, it’s this new group I got in mind, it’s called the traveling. Wilburys I’d like to do an album with them. And then later we can just go and do our own albums again. So it was suppose to be like a temporary project. Um, and he worked with. There’s a lot of he’s George Harrison worked with Jeff Lynne on cloud nines.

They became pretty good friends. And George Harrison was like, let’s, let’s start the band with the two of us. Like we worked together really well. Let’s do that. And so they started chatting like, well, who else do we want to add? And so George Harrison picks Bob Dylan. Jeff Lynn was like, let’s get Roy Orbison.

And then when Tom was touring. And he met Jeff Lynn. They were like, that’s it? That’s the fifth, that’s the fifth piece of the puzzle. They all bonded over there. All five of them have like a mutual love of fifties rock and roll. Yeah. And so the group was born and the term Wilbury, cause I wanted to know, I did write why they were called the traveling Wilburys this, this term came about.

During the recording sessions for the cloud nine album, they are referring to recording errors, created by faulty equipment. And George Harrison would joke to Jeff Lynne we’ll burry them in the mix will vary a little bit. Yeah. So then they would use the term for any kind of small error. And George Harrison said, well, let’s be the traveling, the trembling Wilburys.

And they were like, nah, that’s not. So they changed the traveling Wilburys I love that. And I also like want to see this lineup, like I know we’re not going to, but I want to see this line up. There is a really good, very short documentary that I watched about it. And. Just watching them. I don’t know if I talk about this in my outlet or not watching them work together.

Yeah. It’s like magic. I bought them being in one are all different music. They’re all different, but they’re all Dane geniuses. Yeah. In their own. Right. So they’re having, uh, Jeff and Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynn, and it was sitting there having dinner and. George Harrison asked Jeff to help him record a track and we’re just there.

And so they’re like, let’s just do it while we’re here. We’re having dinner. So the three of them go into Bob Dylan’s garage studio. Cause I guess they’re having dinner at Bob Dylan’s house and they were had no, like I can’t just call it the studio because it’s dinner time and they just start like pilling around and working on things.

And they end up birthing the song handle with care, which was literally named after the label on a box and Bob Dylan’s garage. Which is adorable. I love it. And so George Harrison takes this like makeshift recording of the five of them to Warner brothers executives. And he’s like, well, let’s just throw it on a B side for something that he was releasing.

And the executives were like, um, no, this is, this is not a B-side track. You got to make an album out of this. And so Jeff Lennon and George Harrison are like, oh, well maybe this Wilbury band can happen. Like let’s, let’s, let’s play with it. I liked this quote from George Harrison that said the thing about the Wilburys for me is if we try to plan it, or if anyone had said let’s form a band and get these people.

It would never happen. It’s impossible. It just happened completely just by magic, just by circumstance. Maybe there’s a full moon or something like that. It was just a quite magical little thing. Really. So just, just so you, people at home can keep tabs. Two of the five are British, three are American and they’re all fanboys of each other, which is the most adorable thing was this is the millionaires.

Yes. Is exactly what it is. It’s adorable. Yeah. It’s, it’s so great. And they’re all five musical geniuses, as I said. So they make a full album together. Creatively titled traveling Wilburys volume one. And, um, they, some genius filmed the whole process, bless them. That was later edited into a promotional film called whatever Wilbury.

I love that they recorded their first, that first album in 10 days. Wow. In may of 19 88, 19 88, because Bob Dylan was getting rid piece out and go on tour again. So like it was now or never. Uh, like I said, I watched a little documentary on the creation of this album and they work so well together and they had this kind of like dream setting once in a lifetime opportunity to make an album together.

Um, and the way that they wrote it was really cool. The five band members would literally sit in a circle with their guitars in the kitchen and just. Pick out a basic track that they wanted to work with from each other’s brains. Um, and they would write and record right there at the kitchen table, and then they would record vocals and another room after dinner each night.

So they’d get the backing tracks and then do the vocal layovers. So on the, on the one of the very first days of recording Tom petty, Cause he was a really big fan of Bob Dylan, and I had spent some time together on tour. He was fine working with him, but George Harrison felt the need to. Tell Bob Dylan.

We know that you’re a Bob Dylan and everything, but we’re going to treat you and just talk to you. Like we would everyone else and Bob down replies. Well, great. Believe it or not. I’m an of you guys. So it’s the same for me. I love that. Like I said, they’re all fanboys of each other. This album comes out on October 18th, 1988, and it was a.

Critical and commercial success. It revitalized the careers of Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Anton petty, and as George Harrison had intended, when he wanted to make this group, it kind of like broke. The, what was currently happening in the scene? It’s 1988. So like hip hop, synth, pop, and acid house music are starting to make a come, come up and then you get this like beautiful acoustic masterminds.

Crosby stills and Nash as well, kind of taking from it. I don’t know if that’s what it sounds like, but one of the, um, reviewers at the time wrote in a review that it, the releases album was like a Viking long ship docking in a hovercraft terminal. That’s a great line. I love it because it was just such a, it was not a 1988 sounding album.

It had two successful singles achieved triple platinum certification and was nominated for several awards and won the 1990 Grammy, 1990 Grammy for best rock performance by a duo or group. So while all this was happening, Cause cause no one sleeps in the eighties as we’ve just determined. Why would you, when you have cocaine?

Yeah, but really though, uh, Tom is releasing the album that he wrote with Jeff Lynne. Cause they’re off doing their own thing too. And that a lot of side projects. Yeah, yeah. A lot. I remember when we talked, we did the yellow episode that Jeff Lynn stayed very, very busy all the time. So this is part of that.

That album was called full moon fever came out in 1989. And if the traveling Wilburys were hot, Tom was hotter because he hit number three on the summer charts with that album, which was the highest that he or the Heartbreakers had ever. Uh, achieved. And when he tours this album, he tours it with the Heartbreakers, which is kind of weird, kind of pisses the band off because they weren’t involved in the creation of this album.

Um, the only heartbreaker who was involved was Mike Campbell, who played guitar on the album. All the rest was session musicians or other friends of Tom. Um, so it was just kind of like a weird dynamic after that tour, Tom starts. Digging working with Jeff Lynne. And so he’s like, Hey, Jeff, come work on the Heartbreakers album with us.

Um, but the, the band relationship is not in a great spot because they’ve been fighting for years. They’re not pleased at Tom’s doing his own thing over here. And, um, so tensions are high. And while they’re working on this next Heartbreaker’s album, Tom starts working on his next solo project simultaneously, which is wild flowers.

And he does bring the band in to help from time to time. Everyone in the band gets a role in the finished product except Stan, Stan. You did it to yourself, man. So unsurprisingly. Stan leaves the band, uh, because everything comes to a boiling point around this wild flowers gets released in 1994, and I had a section written about this, but then I was like, I can, I can do better than just me telling you about wild flowers.

So I’m going to pass it over to my friend, Brian Colburn from playlist wars, and he’s going to give us some insight. About wild flowers, because he’s infinitely more knowledgeable about Tom petty than I am. I was one when this album came out. So I can’t tell you about it. So I’m cut to Brian wildflowers by Tom petty, for a lack of a better word is his absolute masterpiece.

This is the album that truly defines who Tom petty was as an artist and takes all the music that has been put out over the course of his career and sums it up into one. Perfect. Steve. The album’s spawned four singles. You don’t know how it feels. You wreck me. It’s good to be king and a higher place. All four of them are fantastic songs, but there is so much more that this album has to offer any one of the 15 original tracks could have very easily been a.

And probably should have been in the case of songs like honeybee crawling back to you cabin down below. There’s just no shortage of fantastic music on this. Let’s just say there’s so much fantastic music on this album that it was originally intended to be a double album. And the label gave Tom petty a hard time about it, which just shows how much labels know because in 2020, they re-released the album as wild flowers and all the rest.

And the 10 songs that were left off of wild flowers could have very easily been put out as a double album and the nine. Too much success songs, like somewhere under heaven, climb that hill something could happen. Leave Virginia alone. All these songs could have very easily been on rock radio in the nineties.

So I feel like that was a mistake on the part of the label, which was remedied somewhat on the songs and music from she’s the one soundtrack, because some of the cuts that were supposed to be on wild flowers made it onto this. Uh, I really wish they would have been where they belonged, which was wild flowers.

I feel, yes. The album was ambitious from Tom petty to do a double album, but he did it and did it right. Working with Rick Rubin brought out the best. In what Tom petty can do alone as well as what he does with the Heartbreakers who are all the session players on this album minus Stan Lynch, who did not play on the album.

Instead we have Steve Ferroni who started playing live with the band the following year. Here’s where he made his studio date. Now to kind of highlight a couple of the songs. Tom petty is no stranger to opening up an album with a slower song. He used free fallen to open up full moon fever, and here he uses wild flowers, a stripped back, beautiful acoustic number to open up this album and.

Mike, give people pause. Cause they might think they’re going to be in for a snoozer of an album, but that’s not the case at all because you have songs like you wreck me and honeybee that are just up there with some of the more rocking tunes that he’s ever done. You don’t know how it feels encapsulates that classic Tom petty vibe.

It just speaks to the masses. This was the first song released after Mary Jane’s last dance, which was the massive hit he had from his greatest hits compilation. So this is the kind of song that it does have a little bit of that nineties feel, but make no mistake. There’s still the classic Tom petty element to this song.

And it works really well. And I think it was the perfect first single to put out from this album because the album does incorporate rock acoustic country Americana. And this song has a little bit of all of that mix. As far as songs like you wreck me. I mean, come on. This song just kicks all sorts of ass.

This song rocks, when a song is covered by taking back Sunday and they can’t really make it any heavier, that just goes to show how much. The Heartbreakers amped up for Tom on this song. And then you have songs like it’s good to be king when he plays that live. The song on the album is just over five minutes long, but when he plays it live, it stretches out to 10, sometimes 15 minutes, but it doesn’t feel like a meandering jam.

This. Just grabs your attention and holds onto it for that entire period of time. Honeybee is a down and dirty rocker. This is actually one that when we did a playlist wars, Tom petty battle, I included as my representation from wild flowers because this song really, as much as you wreck me, rocks honeybee is the perfect example of nineties.

Alternative hard rock with Thompson. And it works so well now the foo fighters have covered this song. And once again, they did not bring the heft that the Heartbreakers brought out for Tom petty on this song. And that just goes to show. Sometimes you can’t mess with perfection. And a lot of the songs on this album are simply perfect.

I truly wish that Tom was still alive today. So we could have seen the wild flowers, all the rest tour that was discussed about when he was talking about this album being re-released in its original form. However, unfortunately that will never come to fruition. But if you do not have. Tom Petty’s wild flowers and all the rest.

I highly suggest you give that version of listen first, because that’s the way he and Rick Rubin originally intended the album to be. And I just feel like when you listen to it in that light, it gives you a whole new respect for the amount of amazing music these guys were able to accomplish. And in one session, it’s truly a masterpiece of an album.

Anytime someone says, where do I start with Tom petty? I always go with wild flowers. An absolute perfect start. If you’re looking to introduce yourself to the world of Tom petty, outside of the radio hits, this is where you should start, but make no mistake, Tom petty and the Heartbreakers and Tom petty solo.

There is not a bad album to be had, but this one just rises to the top. That’s really good insight. So one thing that was going through my head when I was thinking about it. So Tom Petty’s in his forties, when this comes out. Where’s he cause it’s nineteen ninety four, nine, nine, four. And he’s born in 50.

Yeah. Yeah. So he’s in his forties when this is coming out, his greatest, like one of his most regarded albums. That’s really like, it’s just always cool to see when artists cause a lot of. I feel like a lot of people in the music industry and the record labels make this very huge mistake. And that if you’re not in your twenties, more importantly, anywhere from the age of 20 to 25, it’s a five year window, right?

Like you’re going to have. Fucking figure it out with a bag of chips in five years. Let me tell you something that doesn’t happen. Very seldom. We’re still stupid. Yeah, correct. We haven’t figured it all out. No. Um, but you know, it’s just like, if you don’t like figure it out by then and have that successful career in those days, and then like, you know, 25 to 35 you’re touring your greatest hits.

Right. And then. Yeah. And then you just do that to die. And it’s just like the idea that like, you know, we can make great music in our forties. It’s, it’s still your prime when you’re in your phone and your prime. Exactly. That’s some life experience in your, under your belt, right? You you’ve, you fucked up a couple of times you’ve done some drugs.

You’ve learned the bad lessons. Now you’re just vibing. I just wish we would just realize that there’s really good music past that window. You know, again, record labels. Don’t know any. No, they really don’t. But yeah, when I think Tom petty, I think of wild flowers. So thank you, Brian, for that insight, because that’s way better than I would have said about it.

The only thing that I’ll add to what Brian said is because we usually throw this in there. When we get to them that in 2020, this album was ranked at number 20 14, 20 14, God number 214 on the rolling stones, greatest albums of all time. Which is honestly lower than I expected it to be. Right. But it’s there.

So remember how Tom petty likes to Sue people from using his music, right? That he doesn’t agree with 2000 during the 2000 presidential campaign, he sued George W. Bush for using I won’t back down. Campaign. And, um, after his death, his family did the same thing to Donald Trump in 2020. I love it because Tom would have never stood for a song of his being used in a campaign of hate.

That’s what you got to do. So good. Good for Tom in 2006, Tom petty and the Heartbreakers headline to the fifth annual Bonnaroo music festival, which I didn’t realize that Bonneroo yeah. Old, same, but it is. And part of that, that Bonneroo was part of their 30th anniversary tour. And it included special guests, Stevie Nicks, Pearl jam, the almond brothers band a and the black crows.

So if you were at Bonneroo, there’s probably no point ever going to a show again, if that was what you saw. Yeah. On February 3rd, 2008, Tom petty, and the Heartbreakers performed during the halftime show of Superbowl 42, which was the giants versus the Patriots. I remember that considered to be one of the best Superbowls of all time.

I was, I was very stressed out during that game as a giants fan, the giants. Yeah, I know in the last two minutes, I remember it was like the Patriots were ready to win in the last two minutes. I don’t know what happened to Eli, but he finally woke up and he goes PA, PA. Yeah. Any game the Patriots win as a good game.

So I mean, Patriots loses. I hate the Patriots will make it go on record and say that. Um, and I have to say, we’ve talked about several super bowl shows. Now. They’ve all been terrible. Uh, but this and the rolling stones are my. So far and petition to bring back rock and roll to the Superbowl halftime show.

That’d be fun. What it is, we’re missing that. Um, so unfortunately Tom petty did pass away in 2017. He was found unconscious in his house, not breathing and in cardiac arrest in 20, 20, 20 17. What. Really? I thought he died in 2022. No, no, no, no, no. Cause I posted about it. No, it’s Twan my Insta October 20.

That was a van Halen. You’re thinking Eddie van Halen. Yes, no, he died. I remember posting Tom petty dying and I was like, man, what a legend? Nope. He died in 2017. No. Yes. Tonics time is a construct. What glitch in the matrix is this done? To me, it was 2017. Um, he was only 66 years old. A Memorial service was held on October 16th, 2017, which was four days before what, what would’ve been his 67th birthday.

Um, they didn’t know like what caused it for a while. They didn’t have confirmation until January 19th, 2018. So he died in October, no confirmation, the LA county medical examiner determined that Tom had died from accidental, mixed drug toxicity. So. Tom had been experiencing a number of medical problems right before his death, including emphysema, knee difficulties, and a fractured hip that he was prescribed pain medication for.

Um, and he had been informed on the day of his death that his hip injury had actually worsened and he was gonna need surgery. And, um, he. On September 28th, 2018. So like almost a whole year after his death, his widow Dana gave an interview to billboard saying that Tom had been putting off his hip surgery for a very long time.

Like he, she said that he had it in his mind that this was going to be his last tour. And the audit to his longtime crew from decades, like some of the crew have been working with them for decades and his fans. She said that he was in a really good mood the day before his death. He had just done three shows in LA.

He never been so proud of himself. So happy and he was looking forward to the future and then it was literally just like a medication mix up. Like he, it just, his medication reacted badly and he was gone, oh, it’s re it’s like one of the saddest deaths, but we’ve covered because it was so accidental. Like it wasn’t, he wasn’t taking drugs trying to get high anymore.

Like he just had a bad mix of painkillers and that’s what it was. Um, so. Tom petty obviously has a legacy. We’re sitting here talking about him on the show. He sold more than 50 million. Both with the Heartbreakers. And as a solo artist, he’s won four Grammys, been part of the traveling Wilburys with his heroes, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Orbison.

And he’s been on too many sold out tourist account. Uh, he was the 2005 recipient of the billboard century award, which acknowledges creative achievements of artists whose musical contributions are still ongoing. As Brian mentioned, they re-released the. Originally intended wildflowers and more last year.

That was, I think that was maybe what brought Tom petty back through circumstances. Yeah, it was everywhere for like a couple of weeks in, in the music sphere. This, the wildfires and more. Um, and that is the story of Tom petty. Like, like we always say that is the bite sized taco bell drive-through version of Tom petty.

So if you’re interested in learning more, please go do so. But. Good pick guys. I don’t know if it would just probably taken me a while to do Tom petty. If I had not been, if it had not been chosen for me to do this month, I’m not drinking anything because fun fact, we didn’t fit our recording into one night last time.

Like we normally do, because we talked for 47 minutes about blue Ridge rock that I had a whole diagnosis of blue Ridge rock Fest, and I had to deliver the results. So we did not get to record. So we’re recording. Separately, which is very strange. Yeah. I’m drinking a diet Snapple. Like I mentioned lemon flavor, which is not my favorite, but I have water.

I’ll take it anyway.

Thank you for listening. Please leave a serve view. We love to hear your thoughts. Um, good pod. What you can leave a review on apple podcast or good pods. Okay. Uh, leave us a review on apple podcasts or good pods or wherever you see review. And you’re listening to the podcast and you go, Hey, you know, I think when to leave a review, go do it.

Um, special, thanks to death of Fawn for intro riff, you can visit our website at, she will rocky.com. There. You can find our social information or show notes, how to contact us and our merge. Other than that, don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs.

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