The Petty Archives

John Lennon Remembered
Rolling Stone #853 - November 9, 2000

Tom Petty
I was in Cherokee Recording Studios in Hollywood when I heard. I was working with [producer] Jimmy Iovine, who knew John and had worked with him quite a bit. Someone called the studio from New York and said that John had been shot. We thought it was a gag, and we kept working. Then someone called and said, "John's dead." It just stopped the session. I went home, and on the way I could see people sitting in their cars at traffic lights just crying. It was a hard thing to believe. I still have trouble believing it.

John Lennon meant everything. His influence was immeasurable in those times, when I started to play, in the mid-Sixties. He was probably one of the two or three great rock singers ever, and what can you really say about his songwriting? He was just ... transcendental. And his rhythm-guitar playing -- I really studied it quite a bit. If you ever want to see some great rhythm guitar, check out A Hard Day's Night when they do "And I Love Her." He could really just make a band just kind of surge and jump.

To me, Lennon's legacy is honesty. When I was young and seeing the Beatles performing on TV, they were the first ones who weren't just saying pat, showbiz banter. They'd actually say something. He was a great role model for my whole generation, because you knew when John suffered and you knew when John was happy, but it all somehow came out OK.