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Tom Petty’s Last Interview Published

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The Los Angeles Times printed Tom Petty’s final interview, conducted in the days between his last concert at L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl and his sudden death on October 2nd. Petty, who was 66, suffered a cardiac arrest at his Malibu home. While talking to journalist Randy Lewis, Petty spoke about the just-wrapped Heartbreakers tour, saying, “This year has been a wonderful year for us. This has been that big slap on the back we never got.” Petty touched upon his immediate post-tour plans, admitting, “I just have to learn to rest a little bit, like everyone’s telling me. I need to stop working for a period of time. It’s hard for me. . . If I don’t have a project going, I don’t feel like I’m connected to anything. I don’t even think it’s that healthy for me. I like to get out of bed and have a purpose.”

Petty, who had begun the tour in celebration of the 40th anniversary of his debut album, spoke about being a working songwriter: “It’s kind of a lonely work, because you just have to keep your pole in the water. I always had a little routine of going into whatever room I was using at the time to write in, and just staying in there till I felt like I got a bite. I compare it to fishing: (laughs) There’s either a fish in the boat or there’s not. Sometimes you come home and you didn’t catch anything and sometimes you caught a huge fish. But that was the work part of it to me. I just remember being excited when I had a song done, and I knew I had a song in my pocket, I always felt really excited about it.”

Tom Petty said that the act of creating new music never lost its luster for him: “To go into a studio and hear a band play (one of my new songs) for the first time is always exciting. And usually when they play it, it became something I hadn’t even pictured. Yes, I love the studio. I love the studio as much as I love playing live, easily. I’m pretty much in one every day, and I’m still at that.”

As far as what it would take for the Heartbreakers to ever pack it in and call it quits, Petty said: “If one of us went down or if one of us died — God forbid — or got sick. . . We’re all older now. Then we’d stop. I think that would be the end of it, if someone couldn’t do it. The thing about the Heartbreakers is, it’s still holy to me. There’s a holiness there. If that were to go away, I don’t think I would be interested in it, and I don’t think they would. We’re a real rock n’ roll band — always have been. And to us, in the era we came up in, it was a religion in a way. It was more than commerce, it wasn’t about that. It was about something much greater. It was about moving people, and changing the world, and I really believed in rock ‘n roll — I still do. I believed in it in its purest sense, its purest form. It’s unique to have a band that knows each other that long and that well. I’m just trying to get the best I can get out of it as long as it remains holy.”

When we last caught up with Tom Petty he told us felt the Heartbreakers have beaten the odds by not only surviving as a unit — but actually improving over the decades: “I think that right now it’s actually better than I ever counted on it being. It’s great to be improving this many years along the line with the band. Usually when a band’s been around this long, it’s just sort of paying lip service to itself. I think our music is actually improving. It’s getting easier to do. It’s not nearly the chore it’s been. Those are nice things to have happen.”

Photo Courtesy of MCA Records/Universal

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