I enjoyed reading Petty: The Biography.
I wish I had read this book before Tom Petty died. Every chapter was bittersweet. As a huge fan of Petty, every chapter brought back dozens of memories from my own life.
The book is short but complete. As I neared the end I assumed the book would end before the final album. But Zane mentions Mudcrutch’s “2” which was the last Tom Petty album.
The book is full of first hand interviews with all the primary people in Petty’s life: family, friends, fellow musicians, his long time manager, band members, crew members, and enough ‘star power’ so you know Zanes was not shut out from anyone with the possible exception of Jane Benyo, Tom’s first wife.
Because Zanes was a musician (Del Fuegos) he has better insights into his subject. He’s critical at times but understanding too. Zane shows Petty as a band leader; a good band leader. A talent I’m sure Zanes appreciates.
The book spends a lot of time on Petty’s childhood, and Tom’s poor relationship with his father. Much is made of Mudcrutch, Petty’s pre-Heartbreakers band. Petty’s friendship with Stevie Nicks was interesting and might explain what happened with Fleetwood Mac recently.
I’m very interested in songwriting, but other than a few tidbits not much is said on the subject. More is made of his relationships, which makes this biography more enjoyable to the general reader. Like many of these rock biographies the story accelerates towards the end. If the album didn’t affect Petty or the Heartbreakers in some major way then it was simply glossed over.
The book is a good companion piece to “Running Down A Dream” the Heartbreakers documentary by Peter Bogdonavitch. I wonder if Zanes will write a revised version with Petty’s final days and a look at where the Heartbreakers and others ended up.
Amazon Book Preview of “Petty”
Excerpts From My Kindle
“The first time you count four and, suddenly, rock and roll is playing–it’s bigger than life itself,” says Petty describing his first shows. “It was the greatest moment in my experience, really. I couldn’t believe it was happening, that we were making music. No one can understand what a blast to the moon that is unless they’ve done it.
You could hold a band together through power, through fear, through money, through anger. You could hold a band together through love. Most bands were bound by some combination of those things. Just like families. And Petty had watched his family fall apart. So what, he had to ask, held his band together?
what Tom Petty shares with songwriters like Buddy Holly and Hank Williams, artists who created songs that are easy to get into and hard to forget.
Petty vs Springsteen: head-to-head
I compared the careers of Tom and Bruce on a 7/12/2015 blog post. I consider these guys to be America’s finest rock artists. It’s interesting how their careers mirror each other. Tom is only 13 months younger than Bruce, so maybe that’s not too surprising.