The Petty Archives

Editor's Note: Thanks to Susan Molls for sending me the article scan. She's not quite as crazy as the article makes her out to be!

  • 2011-05-19_Turtle-Lake-Times

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Local Resident Wins Contest And Meets Singing Idol
Turtle Lake Times -- May 19, 2011

Recently, Tom Petty, from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, participated in a question and answer session with fans as part as SiriusXM's Ultimate Buried Treasure Contest.

One lucky member of the Highway Companions Club was selected to fly to Los Angeles with a guest and participate in the taping by asking Tom a question about his career or Buried Treasure Show, live on the air. The winner also got to meet Tom after the taping.

The winning HCC member was Susan Molls of Turtle Lake, WI and her question for Tom was: "If Mudcrutch had made a successful first album, back when you started your recording career, and stayed together, do you think you would have made the same music as you did with the Heartbreakers?"

Five other members of the Highway Companions Club also came to the taping with a guest and got to meet Tom afterwards. Tom recently taped his answers to those members' questions.

Molls has written a journal of her experience traveling to Los Angeles for the event.

"I've never won a contest, and I didn't expect to, so when I got a phone call from a nice lady from TomPetty.com telling me I had won the grand prize in the Buried Treasure contest, it didn't seem real," Molls explained. To Molls it seemed like a dream, but she had to say something into the phone. "This isn't an April Fools joke, is it?" she asked. It was, after all, the holiday.

The lady assured her it wasn't a joke. Molls kept repeating that she couldn't believe it throughout the conversation, alternately squealing it and whispering it. The TomPetty.com representative asked if she still wanted to accept the prize. Easy answer! Then she swore Molls to secrecy. She was asked not to post it on the message boards. "I didn't know how I'd keep quiet, but I promised I would," Molls said.

When Molls got off the phone, she screamed the good news to her dad. Then she got back on the phone and called almost everyone she knew. "Even though I couldn't post it on the boards, that didn't mean I couldn't PM some of my friends and tell them my amazing news. So I swore them all to secrecy too," explained Molls.

The days flew by until Molls and her son, Nick, were in Los Angeles, A limo was at the airport to pick them up - the driver holding a sign with her name. The driver pointed out points of interest on the way to the hotel and then deposited them at the Roosevelt.

The hotel was beautiful, all restored to its former glory. After checking in and seeing their room, including a minibar that was full of expensive liquor, the pair went down to 25 Degrees and had lunch before heading back to the room to get ready for the big event.

Another limo driver picked Molls and her son up and dropped them off at EastWest Recording Studio on Sunset Blvd. There was a short line going into the building. Inside they checked IDs and collected release forms, and they gave the guests a special Buried Treasure lanyard. The guests were directed to a big comfortable room full of funky decor and furniture, and a small kitchen full of Pink's hog dogs, fixings, and pop. Molls was too nervous and excited to eat anything. Molls talked to the other contest winners, and everyone there was happy to hear that she had won the grand prize and traveled to L.A. from Wisconsin.

Before long, they started calling names and escorting contest winners and their guests into the studio. They were led into a large room with a platform, table and two chairs, and microphones at the front of the room. Meg Griffin, the host, was already seated on the platformed and she chit chatted with the audience as they came in. "She asked if I was Susan from Turtle Lake, WI, and I excitedly told her I was," Molls said. "I noticed there was an empty chair about eight feet in front of me, and I knew that was where Tom would be sitting."

Soon, everyone was in their appointed chair and the group waited expectantly for Petty to appear. Petty appeared just minutes before the show was to begin and told the group he had barely made it across town. On the way over, he heard on the radio that the show would start in 15 minutes, and Petty thought to himself, "Maybe not!", which got a big laugh from the audience.

Then the show began. During the musical breaks Petty would leave the room. During one break early in the show, Petty looked at Molls, stepped down off the platform and said, "You look like such a nice person, I just had to come and give you a hug." "I didn't know if my knees would hold me up," Molls said. "I stammered that he had flown us there and I was the grand prize winner."

"Well, I hope they're treating you nice," Petty drawled. Molls assured him very enthusiastically that they were.

"I don't remember him leaving the room. I was in another dimension for sure," Molls explained. "I sank back into my chair, shaking uncontrollably, and looked around to see if anyone had witnessed what just happened. I looked at Nick and we both laughed. We couldn't believe what had just taken place."

Petty eventually returned to his chair and the interview portion of the show resumed. Molls had the opportunity to be asking question number seven. Before long she was passed the microphone and was introduced. Molls asked her question. "I guess Tom answered my question, but for the life of me, I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying. I think I was soaring above the room somewhere."

When the question and answer session was over the group received special colored-vinyl albums and then it was on to the meet and greet autographing session. Once again, Molls was number seven.

"Nick and I stood with Tom in the middle, arms around each other, and the photographer snapped away before I even knew what was happening," said Molls. And then, just like that, the photographer was done. The Molls, finished with the pictures, then each received a signed album. "Wow! That's all we could say. Wow! We stood off to the side for a few minutes to catch our breath, and then Nick suggested we leave. I left the room reluctantly, and then Nick suggested we leave. The limo would be waiting. I left the room reluctantly, and we found our way out the door and into the waiting car..."

Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty (born October 20, 1950) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was a founding member of the late 1980s supergroup Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch. He has also performed under the pseudonyms of Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. and Muddy Wilbury.

He has recorded a number of hit singers with the Heartbreakers or as a solo artist, many of which remain heavily played on adult contemporary and classic rock radio. His music, notably his hits, has become popular among younger generations as he continues to host sold-out shows. Throughout his career, Petty and his collaborators have cold 60-million albums.