The Petty Archives

Tom Petty's final interview: There was supposed to have been so much more
By Randy Lewis
The Los Angeles Times - October 4, 2017

This is not the Tom Petty story that I intended to write.

Though I was more than thrilled to catch up with Petty, whom I had interviewed before, I had no clue that this would turn out to be the last, for me and for him — that he would die just a few days later after suffering a massive heart attack at age 66.

This is not the way things were supposed to happen.

When I sat down with Petty in the outer room of the cozy but fully equipped recording studio at his home above Malibu beach, the idea was for him to reflect on the wildly successful 40th anniversary tour he and the Heartbreakers had wrapped less than 48 hours earlier at the end of three sold-out nights at the Hollywood Bowl.

It was a triumphant stand particularly rewarding to Petty, a Florida transplant who considered himself and his band mates California adoptees. He said as much from the stage each night, noting how the Heartbreakers, although composed entirely of musicians born or raised in and around Gainesville, Fla., had been born at the Village Studios in West Los Angeles.

“This year has been a wonderful year for us,” he said now, sipping a cup of coffee he’d just poured at 4:30 in the afternoon and sinking into the plush sofa. Above his head hung a framed illustration of his departed friend and boyhood idol George Harrison, created by artist Shepard Fairey and presented to Petty by Harrison’s son, musician Dhani Harrison. “This has been that big slap on the back we never got, ” he said, referring to the popular, critical and financial affirmation that wasn’t always apparent throughout the group’s hard-working history.