By Dave Itzkoff
The New York Times - December 4, 2005
CONVERSATIONS WITH TOM PETTY. By Paul Zollo. (Omnibus Press, $24.95.) Admit it: You, too, have had the fantasy where Tom Petty becomes your best drinking buddy. Over a few rounds of Pabst Blue Ribbon, you tell him that "Damn the Torpedoes" is a classic document of American rock; he confesses to you that the Traveling Wilburys were a better idea in theory than in execution. But don't hate Paul Zollo, an editor at American Songwriter, for fulfilling the dream first and confirming what you've suspected all along: that Petty is an undeniably fascinating guy to talk to. Sure, there is some dead air in these interviews, but it's abundantly offset by Petty's indelible stories of his Florida upbringing by a father who liked to poke alligators in the eye for fun, and the time the supposedly laid-back Petty became so frustrated with a recording session that he punched a wall, shattered his fist and spent eight months retraining himself to use his left hand. And the chapter devoted to Petty's memories of a bassist who eventually died from a heroin overdose may be the most chilling deglamorization of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle since "Sid and Nancy."