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Petty: The Biography

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An exhilarating and intimate account of the life of music legend Tom Petty, by an accomplished writer and musician who toured with Petty No one other than Warren Zanes, rocker and writer and friend, could author a book about Tom Petty that is as honest and evocative of Petty's music and the remarkable rock and roll history he and his band helped to write. Born in/>


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An exhilarating and intimate account of the life of music legend Tom Petty, by an accomplished writer and musician who toured with Petty No one other than Warren Zanes, rocker and writer and friend, could author a book about Tom Petty that is as honest and evocative of Petty's music and the remarkable rock and roll history he and his band helped to write. Born in/>

30 review for Petty: The Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes is a 2015 Henry Holt and Co. Publication. Think of me what you will, I’ve got a little space to fill… I’ve shared with you my love/hate relationship with rock bios. I decided early on not to read this one because Tom Petty was so special to me. I did NOT want to read a botched biography of TP. I had forgotten about it until recently, when I checked out the new biography of Stevie Nicks. This book was on one of those 'also recommended for you' listings, so Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes is a 2015 Henry Holt and Co. Publication. Think of me what you will, I’ve got a little space to fill… I’ve shared with you my love/hate relationship with rock bios. I decided early on not to read this one because Tom Petty was so special to me. I did NOT want to read a botched biography of TP. I had forgotten about it until recently, when I checked out the new biography of Stevie Nicks. This book was on one of those 'also recommended for you' listings, so decided to check out the ratings and read a few reviews of the book. I also did a little research on the author, and decided this one might really be on the up and up. Yet, I still hesitated. I’ve been a fan of many rock groups over the years, gone through trends like most other people, but one constant, since high school, was Tom Petty. The older I got, the more we connected and the more I appreciated his style. Often his anger, his angst, and his humor matched my own. Tom and I had some long conversations lasting deep into the night sometimes. His music resonated with me in a way no other band has ever been able to. As my kids grew older, they too became big fans, if that tells you anything, and I am so pleased we were able to take them to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers back in 2005. But, as I was reeling from the horrifying mass shooting in Vegas, Tom went into cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness. In a year when I’ve suffered from one of the deepest, darkest depressions I’ve ever experienced, losing my best rock and roll buddy, left me feeling utterly bereft. I really took it hard. I couldn't even listen to his music there for a while. So, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this intimate look at his life. The loss is still too raw. But, on second thought, I felt that maybe it would be cathartic. I think reading this book now, as opposed to reading it while he was still alive, made it a more poignant journey, but ultimately, I’m glad I tucked away my misgivings. This might be the most honest, in depth, and realistic look at a rock artist that I’ve read. Warren was a friend of Tom’s and Tom was involved in the writing of this book to some degree, so I’m comfortable with the authenticity of the shared information. While this book follows the logical chronological format, beginning with the family tree, Tom’s upbringing, musical beginnings, and so on until he became a full-fledged rock star, working with the likes of Bob Dylan and George Harrison. But, it’s also a very in depth and personal look at the man behind the rock star persona. It’s raw, pulls no punches, exposes insecurities, flaws, and demons. His private life and professional life was separate, but not equal. He was often under intense pressures, no one, not even those who were close to him, could have guessed at, and it took its toll. Sometimes he fell into the stereotypical traps of stardom, sometimes he rebelled hard against the system. But, in the end, he was his own man, foibles and all. I think he found a balance in the latter years of his life, in his second marriage, which seemed to stabilize him after years of internal hardships. His music was always solid rock and roll, whether it was with the Heartbreakers or The Wilburys, or in his solo material. He had moments of deep reflections, of acidic criticisms, and angsty heartbreak, but he often showed a light, humorous side, too. His songwriting skills were incredible, his insights invaluable. Most rock bios, the authorized or not, have a really hard time capturing that all too elusive glimpse into the kind person the subject really is. They can relate the various ups and downs, achievements and disappointments, and spell out the nature of all the relationships they’ve had, professional and personal, but rarely do I feel as though I could see through all the smoke and mirrors, behind the barrier and security measures. In this case, I think I did see into Tom’s soul to some extent. He was much more complicated and complex than I would have thought, and struggled with issues I wouldn’t have associated with him, but he also worked to deal with his problems, and I respected his ability to admit his shortcomings. ‘People come, people go Some grow young, some grow cold Tom was a rock star in every sense of the word, and he took full advantage of that privilege, he occasionally exhibited a great deal of moodiness, triteness, arrogance, and entitled outbursts, but, he had principles, and a depth to him, you rarely see from someone in that business, especially after all those years, when he could have become a hardened, jaded, jerk. In fact, I think he was moving towards a good place, where he beginning to win the battle over the demons that plagued him. I do want to believe that, and I hope that was the case. There have been some casual fans or those who just didn’t listen to Tom Petty’s music, but I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like him. He was the coolest rock star ever. I still can’t believe he’s gone. He was only 66, with so much left to give. But, his talent and music will always have a very special place in my heart- And Tom if you are watching- I promise- I'll stand my ground Won't be turned around And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down Gonna stand my ground AND I WON’T BACK DOWN

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lorilin

    I'll risk sounding like a loser and just admit that I wasn't super into Tom Petty before reading this book. Sure, I know (and enjoy) his big hits like anyone else, but not much beyond that. I basically started this book with a clean slate, more curious than anything else, and really just looking to learn. Well, after finishing the biography, I can say with all honesty that I am now a legitimate Tom Petty fan. I have enormous respect for the man. I really had no idea he had been throug I'll risk sounding like a loser and just admit that I wasn't super into Tom Petty before reading this book. Sure, I know (and enjoy) his big hits like anyone else, but not much beyond that. I basically started this book with a clean slate, more curious than anything else, and really just looking to learn. Well, after finishing the biography, I can say with all honesty that I am now a legitimate Tom Petty fan. I have enormous respect for the man. I really had no idea he had been through so much. I never knew his father used to beat the sh*t out of him for years--but then turned around and mooched off of his son's success for the rest of his life. It never registered for me how hard Petty worked to get where he is. Truly, his work ethic is admirable. While it seems that his family life suffered for it, I am still a bit in awe that he has remained so focused and determined to succeed after decades in the business. It's respectable. And yet, despite the fact that he has been so successful, he's also surprisingly humble. He says many times that he was never in it for the money. He always dreamed of living comfortably, sure--paying rent on time, etc., etc.--but he never got sidetracked by a huge payday. His heart was always in the music. That became even more obvious to me when I went back and really listened to his music. While reading the book, I played most of the tracks author Zanes highlighted in the book. And I felt like I heard something new in these songs. I noticed the layers to the lyrics and the creativity in the sounds of American Girl, Listen to Her Heart, Insider, You Don't Know How It Feels, and others. It was just crazy to me how much I got out of these songs after I knew a bit more about the artist. One last thing...I also want to mention how impressed I was by Petty's oldest daughter, Adria. While reading, I could tell that she had experienced a lot of pain, especially after watching her parents divorce and then having to essentially raise her younger sister. But she seemed very strong to me--and surprisingly insightful. I looked forward to hearing her perspective on her dad. She added something special to this story. At any rate, I loved this book. I don't even normally like biographies that much--just because they tend to be so dry, ugh--but Zanes managed to write this one with a lot of heart. I finished it and felt legitimately connected to Petty and his music. It was a wonderful read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I finished this book last night with tears in my eyes as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live Anthology played quietly in the background. I have loved Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers since 1979 when Damn The Torpedos came out. He was such a heart throb to me and as he aged that never changed. His songs have always been a part of my life. I've been to many of their live shows and there was never a bad one. When I found out he passed away I was so sad and I still am. My heart goes out to his f I finished this book last night with tears in my eyes as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live Anthology played quietly in the background. I have loved Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers since 1979 when Damn The Torpedos came out. He was such a heart throb to me and as he aged that never changed. His songs have always been a part of my life. I've been to many of their live shows and there was never a bad one. When I found out he passed away I was so sad and I still am. My heart goes out to his family and friends. We will never get to hear any new albums or have the pleasure of seeing him live and that is heartbreaking. I think Warren Zanes did a great job telling us about Tom's life. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the end of the book: Petty's songs do keep finding people who need them. And they've gotten their own celebrations over the past few years. In New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, and Nashville, with more cities coming, musicians have been gathering to play material from Petty's catalog. It was nothing he saw coming, nothing he knew about until it was already happening. They call them "Pettyfests". Jakob Dylan is among the many who have shown up to play a song. "You just can't find a Petty song that't not worth singing," Dylan says. "And at those shows, the songs just fill the room with joy. I don't know how you write songs that are that good consistently." To watch one of the Pettyfests from the back of the hall is to be reminded of 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. But as it is with Holly and Williams, once you're in a Petty song, another world is unlocked, a place of story, emotion, characters you feel, longing, some sense of freedom. And when a group of people gathers to play these songs through, it is as Dylan says: a joy comes into the room. Song after song. In their own way, those songs are one more reminder that Petty belongs to a tradition of American songwriting that includes only a handful of masters. There were times I knew I was writing things that would be hard for Tom to see in print. But he always insisted that this was my book, and he wasn't there to say what went in and what didn't. He was there to work with me, but he didn't want it to be a whitewashed account. Sometimes I worried that the friendship we'd come into might not survive the process. That thought, however, I had to set aside. The job required that I think not about him but about the people who want to know more about him. He's never been much of a self-promoter, never constructed his own mythology, never hinted that he'd like to lead the people through the streets. He has put the songs out there, then waited to see what happened. And the songs, and the records made of them, have been so good that plenty has happened. But as someone who was raised on that music, I believed there were people who wanted more. All that was required was that he let me in. And he did. I thank him for the style with which he did that. He's still the coolest man in rock and roll. And I've learned a tremendous amount from him during the time we spent together. Read this book if you're a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers fan. You won't be disappointed. If you read my friend Julie's review of this book, she expresses everything much better than I ever could about the book and Tom Petty.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    The outstanding, definitive biography of a rock n roll legend. If you grew up loving Tom Petty's music, you should enjoy this read and wonder at the smarts of Petty the musician and at how much his brilliant creativity sourced from pains in his life (and a few times, from pleasures). I cannot give it 5 stars because I think Zanes gave up some journalist integrity by skirting over Petty's drug problem--an addiction to heroin, which Zanes said, summarily, Petty had kicked. This paucity The outstanding, definitive biography of a rock n roll legend. If you grew up loving Tom Petty's music, you should enjoy this read and wonder at the smarts of Petty the musician and at how much his brilliant creativity sourced from pains in his life (and a few times, from pleasures). I cannot give it 5 stars because I think Zanes gave up some journalist integrity by skirting over Petty's drug problem--an addiction to heroin, which Zanes said, summarily, Petty had kicked. This paucity was made all the more conspicuous after Tom Petty's death of an accidental drug overdose, in October 2017 at age 66, two years after the book's original publication.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    There's a southern accent, where I come from The young 'uns call it country The Yankees call it dumb I got my own way of talkin' But everything is done, with a southern accent Where I come from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Southern Accents American rock music icon Tom Petty died in October 2017 of an accidental overdose. He was 66 years old. The coroner said that fentanyl, oxycontin and sleep medications were among the drugs found in his system. Petty left There's a southern accent, where I come from The young 'uns call it country The Yankees call it dumb I got my own way of talkin' But everything is done, with a southern accent Where I come from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Southern Accents American rock music icon Tom Petty died in October 2017 of an accidental overdose. He was 66 years old. The coroner said that fentanyl, oxycontin and sleep medications were among the drugs found in his system. Petty left behind a unique legacy including twenty studio albums spanning a forty year career, almost all were platinum best sellers. His last album with the Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye, was released in 2014 finally achieving Zeitgest with three generations of fans. It was the only one of his albums to reach #1 on the Billboard charts. Warren Zanes wrote this compelling biography, Petty, in 2015 while Tom and his band were still making music of the highest quality. This bio is not a tell-all book as Tom asked Zanes to write it. It is however a thorough and seemingly honest portrayal. We hear many of the biography details through interactions with his bandmates and producers and even from research gathered by Peter Bogdanovich for the four hour 2007 documentary about the Heartbreakers called ‘Running Down A Dream’. In the biography Zanes includes a chapter on Tom’s life detailing his heroin abuse and including interviews with Tom’s therapist. Tom had cut this material from ‘Runnin Down A Dream’ so it seems that Zanes had some editorial control here or that Tom felt that burying it in a biography was acceptable. To be sure this book is much better at dispensing with the celebrity of a rock star than the documentary. Zanes deftly covers nearly all of the Tom Petty albums. We don’t see a lot of coverage about touring in the book but rather much more about making the albums. The narrative unfolds in a linear timeline starting with his parents’ origin story through Tom’s complete evolution in music. We get some background on his father Earl’s upbringing and are informed of his half Cherokee heritage. The book stressed that Earl could not usually pass as Caucasian. Due to the prevalent racism in southern Georgia and northern Florida against dark skinned people Earl was forced to live on the margins of society. The book does not spend as much time discussing Tom’s mother, Kitty, and her upbringing. She was Caucasian and her parents for a number of reasons did not approve of Earl. Earl abused Kitty and the kids. We learned that Tom is emotionally pained from a young age that Kitty is married to a drunk who frequently abuses her but he can do nothing about it. We learn that Earl frequently drove drunk. On one occasion he crashed his car nearly killing Kitty who was a passenger. Her health deteriorated over the period of years from the effects of the accident, and other health issues including cancer. This coincided with Tom’s rise to success. Tom, while living in L.A., paid for the full time nursing care for his mom back in Gainesville only to find that Earl would only approve nurses who would have sex with him. This is the type of dysfunction that Tom Petty grew up with in Gainesville. Quite an origin story. At the same time as Tom was coming of age, Gainesville was becoming a mecca for up and coming rock and roll artists and there was a huge vibe spurring on the local talent. Tom first joined a band at fifteen and for as many as five years his voice was considered too weird for him to be the lead singer. After watching early bandmates from high school join the Eagles and the Byrds in minor roles on tour, Tom’s desire to get a record contract in L.A. in a rock n’ roll band became all consuming. After an unsuccessful stint in art school in Tampa, that his dad finagled to keep Tom from being drafted, Tom then took on odd jobs at funeral homes, on maintenance crews and in restaurants to support himself. There are many humorous stories here amidst the bleak outlook. The book does not mention if the draft ever called his number, we can assume not. There was too much coverage of Petty in these early garage bands for my liking, and probably my only significant criticism of the book. It wasn’t until he met future bandmate Mike Campbell, a guitarist, and Benmont Tench, a keyboardist, a few years later around 1970 that their music careers took off. Tom convinced both of them to drop out of college to join him in a new band. There is plenty of mention in the remainder of the book of Mike Campbell as Tom’s chief song writing collaborator. There wasn’t much coverage of Benmont Tench who was the only other Heartbreaker who stayed with Tom for the entirety of their careers. There is more coverage on Stan Lynch, the obnoxious drummer and rebel, who really only wanted to tour and bed women. He served as Tom’s foil. Stan was finally axed after Tom had success with some solo albums including Full Moon Fever. Tom couldn’t take the discord any longer and they went their ways. They never reconciled. Stan, talented as he was, never had any great success afterwards. The rest of the book captures the rise and evolution of Tom Petty and the low points that were part of his life. We see the relationship with his bandmates, other musicians, producers, and his troubled wife Jane. Not until the end of the book do we see much reflection on his part as he is so focused on looking ahead to the next album. Even though Tom was deeply introspective, he preferred to let his music speak for him. He did however open up quite a bit about Earl. The ne’er do well suddenly took more of an interest in Tom when he became wealthy. There are many sad and humorous anecdotes about Earl and other gold digging relatives. One scene involved his aunt trying to get Petty to sign a stack of autographs that she could later re-sell. The request to sign them came while they were at Earl’s funeral of all places, culminating in Tom heading to his car in disgust and with his aunt banging on the car in rage as they drove away. We also read about a lot of famous people in this book. Many of the quotes are from the likes of Stevie Nicks, to a very large degree, and Jimmy Iovine and Jeff Lynne. Zanes seemed successful in gaining interviews with many of those in Tom’s orbit who were still living in 2015. George Harrison, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison had long since passed. Petty did not have a wide circle of friends beyond bandmates and these famous musicians. He also did not open up with anyone about personal things so we don’t hear from too many random associates. Zanes convincingly reveals episodes and sometimes finds the sources of Tom’s depression, anger, and ambition. Childhood abuse, a wife who was mentally ill and addicted to cocaine were some of the causes. His general inadequacies were also there as he felt that the few things he was good at in life were singing in a band and making music. While reading, I thought of the line in On the Waterfront “I could have been a contender”. Except that Tom made it. There is little in this biography that seems sensationalized to me. Reading Petty was reminiscent of another great biography, written by Peter Gulranick, about Elvis called ‘The Last Train to Memphis’. Like with Guralnick’s writing, there are only three short instances in this three hundred page book where Zanes inserts himself into the narrative, keeping the story pretty objective. An excellent read but this book can get fairly deep into the discography and so is not your typical sensationalized rock star fanfare. Full disclosure, I am a huge Tom Petty fan and the discography is second nature to me. I think he is truly one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters. The highly talented Heartbreakers were also a tremendous reason for his longevity and success. Zanes probably didn’t dwell on this last point enough. Were there any surprises in reading this biography for me? Yes there was one pleasant surprise. ‘Petty’ is one of the better, perhaps best, non-fiction books that I have read on understanding the life and perspective of a boy growing up poor in the South. More specifically it’s of someone coming of age in Gainesville in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. A boy wanting desperately to escape and then finding his success is forged on the pain and memories from that place he left. Not even great biographies like Cash or the aforementioned Last Train to Memphis conveyed the transformation of poor boy to rock and roll star as well as this one. Five Stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Oh my my, oh hell yes! If Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a band that lights your fire, you have to read this biography, which comes out Tuesday, November 10. You’ll be happiest if you can do it near a source of music, and the very best of all is to be near a desktop or other screen where you can view and hear the music videos as you read about their inception. Petty made it big just as I graduated from high school. By the time my first-born entered elementary school, I had a backseat full of Oh my my, oh hell yes! If Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a band that lights your fire, you have to read this biography, which comes out Tuesday, November 10. You’ll be happiest if you can do it near a source of music, and the very best of all is to be near a desktop or other screen where you can view and hear the music videos as you read about their inception. Petty made it big just as I graduated from high school. By the time my first-born entered elementary school, I had a backseat full of little kids who bounced their heads along to the unquestionable rhythm of his music playing on the radio. And right about now I am supposed to tell you that I got this DRC free for an honest review, courtesy of Net Galley and Henry Holt Publishers. Zanes has really done his homework here, interviewing Petty extensively, and also interviewing members of the band past and present, as well as other musicians (Stevie Nicks foremost among them) with whom he occasionally partnered. This was my first exposure to the Traveling Wilburys, a superstar group formed just for the sheer joy of it and consisting of George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Jim Keltner. Well, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8s9d... and after Orbison died, his chair was represented in the circle, with his guitar (I assume it’s his anyway): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqhd... Petty’s story is one of the ultimate success in spite of everything. Born into the kind of messed up, abusive, impoverished Southern home that America’s shot-to-hell social work system can’t even begin to repair, with a father that got along better with alligators than children and a mother who was stricken with both cancer and epilepsy, Petty was ready to get the hell away from the swampland and Florida immediately if not sooner. Petty tried school several times, but English (oh yeah, poetry right?) and art were the only courses that held any magic for him. He had one marketable skill, and unlimited ambition. As it happens, that was plenty. If you want to read his story, this is the place to get it. Zanes has filled it with lots of vignettes, some of which are very funny. When a particular episode or situation is remembered differently by different musicians, producers and what have you, he tells what each has to say. What you won’t find much here is his family, and that is oddly appropriate. Petty himself recognizes that when a guy is a professional musician doing the album cycle—write the songs, record the songs, make whatever changes need to get made, release the album, then go on tour to promote the album, and come back and do it all over again—family just gets left out. His first wife Jane developed some serious problems with chemical dependency and mental illness, and he experienced serious guilt over leaving their two daughters with her, but what else was there to do? Taking them on the road wouldn’t exactly be a healthy environment. Even if he quit making music, who’d pay the bills then? And so it went. So his elder daughter Adria puts in her two cents here and there, but mostly this is a story of Tom’s life as a musician. But reading about Jane’s addiction issues and then watching this video gave me chills (not great for small children, if you have them near you): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aowSG... There aren’t really any slow parts to this biography; the least interesting to me were the various bands he formed or joined prior to his success as a soloist and then as the leader of the Heartbreakers. That much said, this is the first, the VERY first time this reviewer (and all the reviews on my blog site are mine) has ever gone back to read a galley a second time before reviewing it, not because I didn’t get enough notes (oy, the notes!) but because it was just so much fun to follow Petty’s music and read the stories behind the songs. If you don’t like Tom Petty, I question why you are even still reading my review. But if you’re a fan, this is a great bio to read, intimate without being tawdry or prurient, carefully researched, tightly organized. I am glad I didn’t have to edit it, because he probably had a mountain of extra information that was either cut or not included in the first place. But from anyone that loves good rock and roll, it’s uplifting and absorbing. The ultimate holiday gift for someone close to you that loves Petty’s music would be his giant discography, the Traveling Wilburys DVD and CD, perhaps the documentary (which is on my own Christmas list), and this book. Rock and roll forever!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    What I think about Tom is, ‘How did he become that writer? How does he know what he knows?’ He’s so good I have to ask those questions, like he’s that kind of figure to me. The songs are so compelling.” -- Jackson Browne Indeed, and that’s high praise coming from one of the greatest songwriters of the rock era. I’m not sure if author Warren Zanes, or anyone including Petty himself, can answer those questions. But Zanes, in one early passage captures the very essence of Petty. It does What I think about Tom is, ‘How did he become that writer? How does he know what he knows?’ He’s so good I have to ask those questions, like he’s that kind of figure to me. The songs are so compelling.” -- Jackson Browne Indeed, and that’s high praise coming from one of the greatest songwriters of the rock era. I’m not sure if author Warren Zanes, or anyone including Petty himself, can answer those questions. But Zanes, in one early passage captures the very essence of Petty. It doesn’t answer Browne’s questions, but beautifully articulates what this listener both consistently hears and distinguishes when he hears Petty’s songs: Petty’s romanticism wasn’t along the lines of Bruce Springsteen’s or Tom Waits’s, two songwriters who worked with elaborate panoramas of image, character, and place. His narratives were always more skeletal, perhaps less self-conscious. All three writers created songs that could be seen. They were children of the movies, bringing to their songwriting what they learned in darkened theaters. But Petty’s scenes were fewer, as if half the storyboards had been thrown in the dumpster out back. Perhaps because of that, Petty made a little more room for the listener. “Skeletal.” I can’t tell you how many times I returned to this passage while reading the book. I came to this book as a casual “greatest hits” fan of Petty. (That has changed.) And, I admit, I stumbled a bit at the beginning, with Zanes placing such great emphasis on Petty’s early bands, particularly “Mudcrutch.” (Where are the “Heartbreakers”?) But that would have been rushing the story, since so much of who Petty is and how he ticks can be found in his Gainesville, Florida days. Petty, born in 1950, would grow up in a college town that was exploding in growth as well as rock and roll. Zanes makes an excellent case for Gainesville being one of the great rock and roll hubs in history, with a number of musicians eventually going on to fame in Los Angeles or New York. There were times, though Petty was always present, I thought I was also reading a cultural history of early and mid 60s Gainesville. None of those musicians worked harder at their craft than Petty, who had an extremely hard youth, with an abusive father and an impoverished childhood. The only hints you get of his inner world are mentions of how he liked English class because he enjoyed seeing how words fit together (otherwise he was a horrible student), and that he iked TV and where it took him (out West). Oh, and he got to meet Elvis. Rock & Roll would eventually provide the ultimate escape. Eventually Petty, with Mudcrutch, seen as promising by one record producer, would make it out of Florida. He would spend some time working with Leon Russell at his struggling studio, and continue to soak up Rock & Roll knowledge. He would get his shot, but he was told to dump the drummer and reform the band. And that is how the “Heartbreakers” came to be, and from that point the story and fame accelerates quickly. Petty, throughout the book, is shown as someone who is very loyal to the idea of a band. Even when he ventured into solo efforts, his constant companion was Mike Campbell, his guitarist from Mudcrutch and before. But when discussing the band, it’s hard to avoid drummer Stan Lynch. Zanes jumped through a number of hoops to get a reluctant Lynch’s side of a story. A story that would see him, after years of bitching and moaning and backstabbing, fired by Petty. One might argue too much time is spent on Lynch, but the payoff is late when Zanes, almost like a master story writer, hooks back to a scene at a Gainesville arcade where Lynch, and presumably Petty, are stoned or tripping. One, Petty, remains focused, the other, Lynch, high as a kite, raging and weeping. The counterpoint is powerful and effective, tragic even in that these two boys have so much in common. In the end, Lynch, despite the fairness of the author, still comes across as a selfish asshole and band cancer. I’m amazed Petty put up with him for so long, but I think his patience was rooted in those Gainesville days, and an understanding of at least some of Lynch’s insecurities. With Petty’s incredible success, which included numerous hits, a tour with Dylan, a wonderful side project with The Traveling Wilburys, and a rich friendship with George Harrison, also came danger. Zanes unfolds Petty’s slipping (though largely undetected) grip and growing isolation as his marriage crumbled. Though Zanes never mentions it, it’s hard not to see the parallels with Elvis or Michael Jackson (or Prince). As Stevie Nicks (a very good and true friend to Petty) mentions that no one knew he had slipped into heroin use and deep depression. With rock stars, no one seems to know until it’s too late. But Petty, against all odds, rights himself, gets clean, finds love in a new marriage, and even re-forms Mudcrutch. As the book closes, Zanes presents us with an artist who is bit damaged (“rebuilt”), but at peace with himself. This is one of the best rock bios I’ve ever read, and can easily occupy a place beside Dylan’s Chronicles and Keith Richards’ Life. Highly recommended, especially so for Petty fans. But the book will make you a fan, because you will find yourself listening to a remarkable catalogue of music by a true American original.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    Tom Petty has always been in the background of my life. I grew up most of my life as a small town hillbilly girl and all the boys I had crushes on were a lot like Tom. Skinny, long hair, cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth and an ever present cool that was sexy as hell. As I got older my type did not change much except I wanted those boys to look the same but have that artistic bent-music, art..they were equally stimulating. I loved his music the minute I heard it and felt very drawn Tom Petty has always been in the background of my life. I grew up most of my life as a small town hillbilly girl and all the boys I had crushes on were a lot like Tom. Skinny, long hair, cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth and an ever present cool that was sexy as hell. As I got older my type did not change much except I wanted those boys to look the same but have that artistic bent-music, art..they were equally stimulating. I loved his music the minute I heard it and felt very drawn to his band. I could not even list all of the songs that he has written or performed that can still make me turn up the music to full blast and breathe in and feel this type of youthful elation. Even though he was older than I was, I felt like he grew and changed with me. This book tells as much as I think anyone will ever be able to tell about this very private man. From his tough childhood to the difficult first marriage and his struggles with balancing his band, family and success. It's very much a musician's book--written by a musician (a former member of the fab band The Del Fuegos) and explores the music deeply. I learned so much--despite all the years of listening to Petty and the Heartbreakers, he still remained very much a mystery to me. I always love to know what music the musicians I love listen to and are influenced by and that is very much highlighted here. I knew that his band life had been somewhat complicated but I always admired his loyalty to his band and his urge to make sure that their work did not go unnoticed. I had no idea until I read the book just how difficult that was for him. I especially loved the contributions by his daughter, Adria who is a visual artist in the area of music and super talented herself. She was honest and gave a perspective that no one else would really be able to give besides her younger sister. She clearly knows and loves her dad as both a person and her father and her contributions are incredibly illuminating. There is a decent amount of info on the Heartbreakers themselves and they are an interesting bunch as well--I have to admit I knew next to nothing about them until I read this book. There is a lot of talent swirling around here and Zanes goes out of his way to make sure he notes that. He's very fair in his assessments in most situations (though despite his efforts to not completely bury Stan Lynch, I came out of this disliking Lynch heartily--he sounds like a macho jerk and jealous troublemaker). Sometimes when you read a bio you get your heart stepped on--disappointed to find out ugly things or surprised to find the person was nothing like you imagined. That did not happen here--I feel like I got a nice, rounded picture of a very complicated man that did not get invasive enough to be disrespectful but had plenty of information to make you feel you understood both the man and the music just a bit better. Definitely recommend.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tobin Elliott

    Gotta say, this was easily one of the better rock biographies I've read (and I've read a lot). Despite what many are indicating in their reviews, this is not a "this happened, then this happened, then this happened" narrative. Yes, there's definitely some of that in there (show me any biography that doesn't do that), but Zanes also folds in some fascinating insights along the way, whether it's about the music scene in Florida, the weird conglomeration of Petty's group and the Felder/Leadon connecti Gotta say, this was easily one of the better rock biographies I've read (and I've read a lot). Despite what many are indicating in their reviews, this is not a "this happened, then this happened, then this happened" narrative. Yes, there's definitely some of that in there (show me any biography that doesn't do that), but Zanes also folds in some fascinating insights along the way, whether it's about the music scene in Florida, the weird conglomeration of Petty's group and the Felder/Leadon connection to the Eagles, or digging deep into Petty's mother and father, or wife and kids. And there's also, of course, the music. How it came to be. How Petty learned from everyone. How each album tended to reflect Petty's ongoing trials and life at the time. It paints a clear picture of how the man had to learn to become a band leader—sometimes at the expense of friendships—to protect what he and the band had built. I think, innately, there came a point where Petty understood Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were as much band as brand, and he always fought to protect both. Along the way, he also showed who he was, taking on labels and the music industry itself, and also became (though I hate the term) an elder statesman of rock. Did he piss off some people along the way? Sure he did. Probably no one more than his brilliant, but miserable drummer Stan Lynch. Did the band have their fights? Again, sure they did, though less so once Lynch left. But what marriage of 40-odd years doesn't have its ups and downs? And this was the marriage of Petty, Campbell, Tench, and a revolving cast of drummers, bassists, producers, and mentors. But does this tell an interesting and illuminating history of one of the most important musical talents to come out of the 70s? Hell yes it does. And when I finished it (the book was released prior to Petty's death), I found myself mourning the loss of the man all over again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    this was a good bio on a great artist.

  11. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    As a teen, Petty found respite from his father’s abuse by penning songs and making music. Gainesville was a burgeoning music scene in the late 60s/ early 70s, birthing many successful acts. It’s where hometown bassist Tom Petty helped form the locally popular Mudcrutch. As we all know, he eventually found commercial success with The Heartbreakers. In this comprehensive account, music biographer Warren Zanes takes us through the inception, the inner-workings, family tumult, musical friendships, d As a teen, Petty found respite from his father’s abuse by penning songs and making music. Gainesville was a burgeoning music scene in the late 60s/ early 70s, birthing many successful acts. It’s where hometown bassist Tom Petty helped form the locally popular Mudcrutch. As we all know, he eventually found commercial success with The Heartbreakers. In this comprehensive account, music biographer Warren Zanes takes us through the inception, the inner-workings, family tumult, musical friendships, drugs, and, of course, Petty’s prolific decades-long career.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Billy

    On the fandom scale with Petty, I was a Greatest Hits guy until ~ 2012, when a friend's persistent praise became impossible to ignore. A few used CD purchases, and my fandom increased to a modest level. Which is where I was... until I read what has to be one of the most enjoyable and intriguing biographies of my life. All I know for sure is that, having read this biography, I'm desperate to fill in the many gaps of my Petty music collection, and songs that might never have made their On the fandom scale with Petty, I was a Greatest Hits guy until ~ 2012, when a friend's persistent praise became impossible to ignore. A few used CD purchases, and my fandom increased to a modest level. Which is where I was... until I read what has to be one of the most enjoyable and intriguing biographies of my life. All I know for sure is that, having read this biography, I'm desperate to fill in the many gaps of my Petty music collection, and songs that might never have made their way into my favorites list ("Insider," "King's Highway" among many) have been in heavy rotation for weeks. Warren Zanes is granted the privilege and challenge of getting down in the Florida swamp of the lives of Tom Petty and his band, a ragtag bunch that my music aficionado friend claims can, at their best, rock a stage as well or better than any band in rock music history. (And he's in his late 50s and has seen all of those greats, live, at their peaks, so it's not a flippant or ignorant compliment.) If you love music - not Petty, necessarily. Just music - give yourself the gift of this journey from Florida to California and into the great wide open, all stuffed in a modestly-sized book of non-fiction.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Outstanding. Warren Zanes took me places the Peter Bogdanovich film Runnin' Down a Dream couldn't. I suspect I'll always be a TP fan, but for even the casual listener this is a great read. Zanes has wonderful phrasing and an ability to put you right where he wants you to be while telling the story, whether it's the studio, on the road or in the midst of turmoil. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    I haven’t read too many rock ‘n’ roll biographies and my musical interests lean more toward Joan Baez and Carol King and the Beatles and can’t get no satisfaction. A lot more familiar with Pete Seeger. But Tom Petty just died and he was 66. And I wondered about him. Who was he and what does it mean that he was younger than I am when he died. I didn’t know that he was such a megastar. And I had heard of the traveling Wilburys and the illustrious stars who were part of that group but ne I haven’t read too many rock ‘n’ roll biographies and my musical interests lean more toward Joan Baez and Carol King and the Beatles and can’t get no satisfaction. A lot more familiar with Pete Seeger. But Tom Petty just died and he was 66. And I wondered about him. Who was he and what does it mean that he was younger than I am when he died. I didn’t know that he was such a megastar. And I had heard of the traveling Wilburys and the illustrious stars who were part of that group but never knew he was One of them. When rock stars die they probably sell a lot of records and if you judge the success of this book by the amount of money I spent buying albums from iTunes, this book was a great success. I look forward to listening to some Tom Petty in the coming weeks and figuring out if I really like his music! I knew absolutely nothing about Tom Petty. Now I know that he came from your pretty standard dysfunctional family and grew up in Gainesville Florida. He started making music as a teenager and found success pretty young. He continued to make music almost continuously for the rest of his life. He did a lot of drugs with acid apparently one of his favorites. He became a drug addict and evidently kicked the habit with a medical detox cure that didn’t sound too familiar to me. It would be easy to say that he had a gift. The story about how the band the Heartbreakers stayed together for decades with a few changes in personnel is an interesting story. His position as leader of the band was never exactly called a dictator but how that happened and how that worked in relation to the other members was fascinating. The author went into this group dynamic enough to make a reasonably understandable story without getting into extreme depth. Just on extent the stories of sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that you would expect are there but not prurient detail. Although the process of making music is not something that I especially understand or even want to learn about, I found the level of detail that was presented in the book about the advances in technology of recording over the years was both informative but simple enough for me to grasp enough to maintain my interest without overwhelming me with technicality. Whenever I read about people who have a lot of money I always want to know what they did with their money to make the world a better place. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers appeared at their share of benefit concerts over the years and I guess that should not be down played. But I got the impression that whenever they appeared they were paid enough to cover their expenses so they were possibly never donating their time. Maybe Tom Petty established some charitable foundation to do good but that was not covered. On the other hand the private jet was covered. I give this book 3 stars. I listen to it in the Audible version. The reader was adequate but not dynamic. I know a lot more about Tom Petty now than I did before. But of course before I knew nothing! I look forward to listening to the music I have collected in the process of reading this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    (review not final - there may be edits to this) This is one of the best written biographies I have read in a long time. It did take me a bit longer to get through this since there was so much information packed into a very small space. That is one of the thing I loved about it. Every word had a place, no filler, much like Petty's music - where every note counts. I also loved that Zanes tried to be objective about his subject when you can tell he is a fan. Yes, he recounts the bad time (review not final - there may be edits to this) This is one of the best written biographies I have read in a long time. It did take me a bit longer to get through this since there was so much information packed into a very small space. That is one of the thing I loved about it. Every word had a place, no filler, much like Petty's music - where every note counts. I also loved that Zanes tried to be objective about his subject when you can tell he is a fan. Yes, he recounts the bad times but explains what went wrong within the band. He really dug down and got Petty's side of the story and then got the other band members to give their side. I can't say everything is fair and balanced, but this is pretty close. You can tell exactly who is in Petty's camp. I had always heard rumors about the Heartbreakers, that they were somewhat reclusive and after reading this it is amazing to find out that the guys in the band are just really shy. That all makes sense when you understand where they came from and the horrible childhood that Petty had. I am amazed that he isn't more damaged. If the writing in the book is a bit familiar to Petty fans, it is because Zanes also did the book that accompanied Runnin Down a Dream. Overall, this is a great recap on Tom Petty and the relationship he has with his bandmates, the Heartbreakers. It reads like an honest portrayal and the fact that Zanes had access to Petty and the band makes all the difference in how the story comes off. It is a story about overcoming the odds and making in music.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    This book truly does justice to Tom Petty, his music, and his life. Warren Zanes doesn't paint everything with a rosy glow, either. He tells about the bad times as well as the good. Zanes sums my feelings about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers up when he tells his kids about what it was like to grow up with Petty's music. "Imagine, I said, having someone make a record that goes straight into that place where the important records go, and then he keeps making them. Every few years, a new one, foll This book truly does justice to Tom Petty, his music, and his life. Warren Zanes doesn't paint everything with a rosy glow, either. He tells about the bad times as well as the good. Zanes sums my feelings about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers up when he tells his kids about what it was like to grow up with Petty's music. "Imagine, I said, having someone make a record that goes straight into that place where the important records go, and then he keeps making them. Every few years, a new one, following you through your life." That's how it was for me, and still is.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    In my 14,000 song collection, I count just 11 by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, as well as two when he went solo. In other words, I am just a casual fan of his hits. So Warren Zanes' biography of Petty was an eye-opener and gave me a lot of insight into what Petty is all about. Warren Zanes is a musician who was in a band called the Del Fuegos. They opened for Petty on a tour long ago and he maintained contact with people in the band. This makes him very well qualified to write about the mus In my 14,000 song collection, I count just 11 by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, as well as two when he went solo. In other words, I am just a casual fan of his hits. So Warren Zanes' biography of Petty was an eye-opener and gave me a lot of insight into what Petty is all about. Warren Zanes is a musician who was in a band called the Del Fuegos. They opened for Petty on a tour long ago and he maintained contact with people in the band. This makes him very well qualified to write about the musical life, the band life, the world of making records and going on the road. It also gave him access to key people, including Petty himself. Most importantly, without getting too gossipy, it does present all sides of the Tom Petty story. Musical differences, jealousies, band members coming and going and personal relationships. Not only does Zanes explore the music of Petty, but also the importance of the Heartbreakers. From early days, from the remnants of Petty's former band Mudcrutch, the Heartbreakers are an integral part of this story. A big turning point might have been when management decided that Tom Petty was the star and would be compensated accordingly (compared to the rest of the band). This could have lead to great discord but decades later the band is intact, some members gone but the spirit still there. Petty's work with producers like Dave Stewart, Rick Rubin and Jeff Lynne could and did lead to jealousy, and his solo albums and the Traveling Wilburys showed that Petty was restless to explore new frontiers. Friendships and musical collaborations with the likes of George Harrison and Bob Dylan show how far he came from humble beginnings. In his personal relationships; his marriages and longstanding friendship with Stevie Nicks are written about here quite extensively. Most of all Zanes gives context to Tom Petty; how he grew up poor and somewhat of a misfit, how he took a chance going to L.A. with his first band, looking for the big breaks that came the way of other Florida musicians in the Gainesville, Florida scene (Don Felder and Bernie Leadon of The Eagles especially). After reading this book one could see that Petty was truly "Runnin' Down a Dream". Well done biography which should please both the hardcore followers and those (like me) who were more casual fans.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Petty has always been in my life, thanks to my older brother's love of rock, so I'm used to having Petty be a part of a larger soundtrack to my life, good or bad, he's there for me still. While I grew up and loved the music, ads still very much do, I never questioned the men behind it. Never had a thought to wonder where it comes from, this writing, this lyric, that resonates so much with me when it does at the time it does but his passing earlier in the year has left a hole, like other great mu Petty has always been in my life, thanks to my older brother's love of rock, so I'm used to having Petty be a part of a larger soundtrack to my life, good or bad, he's there for me still. While I grew up and loved the music, ads still very much do, I never questioned the men behind it. Never had a thought to wonder where it comes from, this writing, this lyric, that resonates so much with me when it does at the time it does but his passing earlier in the year has left a hole, like other great musicians, that simply cannot be filled nor should it be. Petty, unbeknownst to me, had his own demons, heartaches, and failures and Warren Zanes captures the man behind the Petty name just as easily as he captures the music that was there through it all. Interviewing Petty and the Heartbreakers as well as the extended Heartbreakers Support team, family and friends, Zanes paints an unbiased account from the early days in Gainesville, FL from Mudcrutch to becoming the Heartbreakers and the rise of it all, including Tom's additional projects while still showing love, loyalty, support and the structure of family within the band, that at many times was put to test again and again by not fame and fortune but by the band, family and the dedication to that same music, that same band. I was honestly suprised by the amount of turbulence that was within the band because it never came across in the music, not once, did I ever get anything else than love for the music and maybe that's what Petty wanted. He was a man in love with music, plain and simple, and while yes he was famous and had gold records, he was never other than a fan of the music and what he could he bring to it or call from it with a lyric and a guitar note which makes him, in my opinion, one of the greatest musicians I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. Petty said it best I think, "Things happen with good records. Maybe not right when they come out, maybe not for millions of listeners. But good records seem to get to the people who need them the most."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    The best book I've read this year! This biography on Tom Petty and to a lesser extent the band the Heartbreakers is absolutely fantastic. The writing is so well done that it reads like the best fiction and incorporates quotes from seemingly everyone who has played a role in Petty's life. I really liked the way the author wove in family history as a way for readers to understand how and why Petty handled different issues the way he did over the course of his life. I also appreciated th The best book I've read this year! This biography on Tom Petty and to a lesser extent the band the Heartbreakers is absolutely fantastic. The writing is so well done that it reads like the best fiction and incorporates quotes from seemingly everyone who has played a role in Petty's life. I really liked the way the author wove in family history as a way for readers to understand how and why Petty handled different issues the way he did over the course of his life. I also appreciated the selection of quotes that appeared in text as it helped readers to see situations from vastly different points of view while still leaving room for readers to judge (or not judge) the individual "characters" without it being brought about by the author's own view of a situation. I read and really loved Conversations with Tom Petty by Paul Zollo a few years ago and still think it's worth a read for any fan of Tom and his band, but this book helped me to better understand some of the information I first encountered in Zollo's book. Both are must reads, but I think this book would even be appealing to music fans who don't know much about Petty, and maybe only like, not love, his music. The reason being that this book gives readers a feel for the times and how music has changed over the course of Petty's career. The author is incredibly intelligent and the writing itself is a draw here, even if the subject isn't first and foremost. Highly recommended to Petty fans and largely to music readers from all genres.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Miles

    I loved this book. Made me nostalgic for old Gainesville and 70s music played on the radio coming through cheap speakers riding the car and on the beach. Tom Petty’s incredible story from a little ranch house in Gainesville to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only was he a one-of-a-kind songwriter, he was an incredible business man that some how kept his band together for four decades. Petty’s very honest about his demons and the toll they took on him and his family. But in the end, one gets I loved this book. Made me nostalgic for old Gainesville and 70s music played on the radio coming through cheap speakers riding the car and on the beach. Tom Petty’s incredible story from a little ranch house in Gainesville to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only was he a one-of-a-kind songwriter, he was an incredible business man that some how kept his band together for four decades. Petty’s very honest about his demons and the toll they took on him and his family. But in the end, one gets a since that he found love and peace with his past. A great story. Zanes did an amazing job.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    I couldn’t put this down. It’s so heartbreaking that the frontman of rock and roll’s last bands is gone. What an amazing ride! I am very disappointed that Tom and Mike did not attend Howie Epstein’s funeral tho. That is unforgivable. Nevertheless, I am so fortunate to have grown up in the golden age of music. Although I’m sad that’s it’s over.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This is still on my to read list, but want to share a nice story I read today on rollingstone.com. Tom Petty’s Biographer on the Story He Didn’t Tell: A year after Petty’s death, author Warren Zanes shares a tale of loss, memory, and the search for the perfect cup of coffee https://www.rollingstone.com/music/mu...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tim Healy

    I waited a long time to start this book. It's been in my queue since before Petty died in October. After, I couldn't quite face it for a while. I'm a huge fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and they've often been a "go to" when I wasn't ready to deal with things. I really wasn't ready to deal with Tom's passing. I saw Warren Zanes and his band, the Del Fuegos, open for the Heartbreakers twice on the Rock and Roll Caravan tour in the mid-80s. He was in a unique position to address I waited a long time to start this book. It's been in my queue since before Petty died in October. After, I couldn't quite face it for a while. I'm a huge fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and they've often been a "go to" when I wasn't ready to deal with things. I really wasn't ready to deal with Tom's passing. I saw Warren Zanes and his band, the Del Fuegos, open for the Heartbreakers twice on the Rock and Roll Caravan tour in the mid-80s. He was in a unique position to address Petty's life, having known and been a friend to Petty, who was not easy to get close to. He's written, with help from Petty and all of the living Heartbreakers - among many others - a "warts and all" biography. It doesn't paint Petty as a saint, nor does it paint him as a demon. It tries to draw a picture of the man as he really was. And he wasn't easy. Petty had a hard life, and this book talks about the fact that he could be difficult to deal with. He was driven, knew what he wanted, and didn't deal well with people who disagreed with him. This is, after all, a man who once declared bankruptcy rather than meet a contractual obligation to someone who was not pulling in the direction he knew he needed to go. The book, and Petty, himself, also talk openly about his heroin addiction and depression. He talks about Dana, his second wife, and her son Dylan, saving him from himself. His therapist once told him, "people as depressed as you are don't live." Scary stuff. What I would never have guessed, given the live performances I've seen (15? 20? Not sure, right now), is that he was often dealing with crippling insecurity about his performance on stage. I certainly could never have told you that. Everyone I've ever spoken to who saw him live says they never saw a bad show. I know I certainly didn't...and several are among the best shows I've EVER seen. Amazing to me to hear that he was suffering this way. It's sad to me that, in his 60s, he seemed to finally be coming into a period of real happiness with his life. He was in a good place with his daughters, and second wife. He doted on his grand-daughter, Everly. I wish he'd had longer to enjoy that. This book probably isn't for everyone, but, as a fan, I'm glad that I read it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I was really looking forward to this book because although I'm not a major fan, I do like his music. I even read all the reviews here first and was expecting it to be great. Guess I'm in the minority then because I thought it was boring. Hard to get into in the beginning. I had to keep forcing myself through it, hoping it would get better, but for me, it never did. It read as fact to fact to fact: this happened, then that happened, then this happened, with no emotion, no soul, behind it. He I was really looking forward to this book because although I'm not a major fan, I do like his music. I even read all the reviews here first and was expecting it to be great. Guess I'm in the minority then because I thought it was boring. Hard to get into in the beginning. I had to keep forcing myself through it, hoping it would get better, but for me, it never did. It read as fact to fact to fact: this happened, then that happened, then this happened, with no emotion, no soul, behind it. He writes about Petty's dad's physical abuse, his mother's illnesses, both major events in his life, but written in such a factual way with nothing more explored behind it. The same with his marriage. And then having kids. It's just mentioned casually. Then his wife's mental illness and eventual divorce. These are all major life events that seemed to me to just have a passing glance. I wanted to feel empathy, like I was living along with these things, but it was just...then onto another topic. There are a lot of names mentioned-past and future band members, managers, etc., that come and go so you're confused who's who. Again, just passing and occasional deeper mention of the dynamics; what was behind these relationships, what did they really mean to one another? And all the songs-what were the stories behind them? Not discussed in depth. I also didn't like how the author compared other bands that were out at the same time-Journey, Boston, Kansas-and seemed to imply that they weren't as good because somehow Tom Petty's music was just so meaningful, so superior, a la Bob Dylan... I lived through those times & don't remember putting TP lyrics on a pedestal. It was good rock & roll, just like the rest that was out there, Boston & co included. Nothing to be revered. I had to keep forcing myself through it, skimming parts. Finally I couldn't take it anymore & stopped reading it. Just my opinion but there was no soul in this book for me. Couldn't get into it.It reminded me of the U2 The Definitive Bio by John Jobling-another one that I had high expectations for, so many stories that could have been told, but couldn't end up finishing either.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Nawrot

    Whether you're a fan of Tom Petty or not, it's almost unavoidable that he has been a part of your life. He was an icon, with the most top 10's in the history of rock, his southern drawl delivering to us the soundtrack of our lives from the late 70's up until his death last year. But the man was private, tortured from a childhood of abuse and an abusive first marriage, which makes this biography even more enlightening and mind-blowing. And there is no better person to tell his story than Warren Z Whether you're a fan of Tom Petty or not, it's almost unavoidable that he has been a part of your life. He was an icon, with the most top 10's in the history of rock, his southern drawl delivering to us the soundtrack of our lives from the late 70's up until his death last year. But the man was private, tortured from a childhood of abuse and an abusive first marriage, which makes this biography even more enlightening and mind-blowing. And there is no better person to tell his story than Warren Zanes, a man who is both a musician and an author. His friendship with Petty and his knowledge of the music business, combined with a gorgeous but raw prose, made this biography rise way above most. What is fortuitous is that he tackled this project a few years before Petty's death, so he was able to conduct hundreds of hours worth of interviews with the man himself as well as his friends, family and band members. He chronicles Petty's ugly childhood and his early days in music with earlier bands, the trials and errors and failures and successes, and his skyrocket to fame. Zanes describes the making of each album, the emotion behind it, the players involved, and how each was received by the public. We learn about his ill-fated first marriage, the miracle of his second, the birth of his children and the the toll his career took on them. While Petty had always partied, his painful divorce drove him to a heroin addiction in the 90's. I can't emphasize how thorough and authentic all of this information was. What I would have appreciated is an epilogue, added after Petty's death, so that I could understand what happened. I've read all the reports and have tried to get my arms around it, but I would have liked Zanes insight. It was eerie listening to this, knowing what fate had in store for him. Zanes himself narrates this audio, and through an interview with Zanes at the end, we learn that he just couldn't imagine anyone else delivering this story. Petty's history was personal to him, and he put his heart and soul into the story. He wanted to be the one to deliver it, and deliver he did, spectacularly.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Many of the criticisms about this book focus on the fact that Petty and author Warren Zanes are friends to some degree and the result is that the book paints a very favorable portrait of Petty. There is certainly plenty of that -- in some places the glowing praise of Petty becomes almost difficult to read. The bigger issue, however, might be that Zanes' familiarity with his subject causes some problems with the story telling in terms of where he places the focus and how he tells the story. Many of the criticisms about this book focus on the fact that Petty and author Warren Zanes are friends to some degree and the result is that the book paints a very favorable portrait of Petty. There is certainly plenty of that -- in some places the glowing praise of Petty becomes almost difficult to read. The bigger issue, however, might be that Zanes' familiarity with his subject causes some problems with the story telling in terms of where he places the focus and how he tells the story. For example: far too much of the book focuses on the friction between Petty and longtime drummer Stan Lynch. It is problematic on many levels for the reader: it is repetitive to the point where it is hard to care anymore, the portrayal of Lynch becomes cartoonish and Petty seems to want to make sure you are clear on his side of the story. The bigger problem, however, is that it is hard to see how this friction is such a pivotal event in Petty's life story to merit this much attention. Conversely, there is extremely little written about the 1987 fire at Petty's home that was very nearly fatal and a major event in Petty's life for many reasons, including the fact that it was arson and someone may have very well been trying to kill him. There are other problems as well, but the stuff about Lynch and the fire are particularly interesting in that they illustrate what is almost an unforgivable weakness on what is becoming my baseline test for any non-fiction work: Can I quickly and easily find credible information online that paints a more complete picture of the subject. In this case, a quick Google search uncovers that Lynch (surprise) actually has some talent, has had an extended career in music and is not a cartoon character, meanwhile, you can also learn that Petty was so troubled by the arson attempt at his home he made a conscious effort to avoid using the word "fire" in a song for years. In this regard, the book fails the test.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I really like rock biographies, but this one somehow manages to be dull and gloomy (not at all what I was looking for after Tom's recent passing). It's more an info dump than it is entertainment, and for all the positivity in Petty's music, this biography is mostly gloom. If you're looking for fun band facts or crazy stories I guess you'll have to look online, because what you have here is the chronology of everything that went bad after each good thing happened. What's worse, both Tom and his b I really like rock biographies, but this one somehow manages to be dull and gloomy (not at all what I was looking for after Tom's recent passing). It's more an info dump than it is entertainment, and for all the positivity in Petty's music, this biography is mostly gloom. If you're looking for fun band facts or crazy stories I guess you'll have to look online, because what you have here is the chronology of everything that went bad after each good thing happened. What's worse, both Tom and his band members are reticent throughout the book, refusing to talk in depth about much of the band's history or about themselves, so even the discussions of "things gone wrong" ring hollow. I'm not sure if the "vibe" of the book comes from the author, but this one lacks the roller-coaster feel and the revelations that make rock band bios great. Maybe Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were just old enough to know better by the time this one was written...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Noah Gittell

    As an enormous Petty fan, I was disappointed by the first half of this book. It focused too much on the business of being in a band and not enough on the songs that I loved. Zanes spends just a couple of sentences, for example, on the "mini-Woodstocks" that took place at Mudcrutch Farms, where Petty and his band first got started. My guess is there are plenty of good stories from those days, but Zanes leaves them on the cutting room floor. And yet as Petty matures, so does the book. T As an enormous Petty fan, I was disappointed by the first half of this book. It focused too much on the business of being in a band and not enough on the songs that I loved. Zanes spends just a couple of sentences, for example, on the "mini-Woodstocks" that took place at Mudcrutch Farms, where Petty and his band first got started. My guess is there are plenty of good stories from those days, but Zanes leaves them on the cutting room floor. And yet as Petty matures, so does the book. The sections about Petty's marvelous second act - beginning with "Full Moon Fever" - are thrilling for their insights into the creative process and as an unmasking of the aging, struggling man who created some of the greatest music of our era. It's psychological, historical, and above all deeply human. And by that point, it becomes clear why Zanes started the way he did. His is a portrait of what it means to be a band leader, someone who enjoyed the companionship of playing music with the same guys for forty years but suffered the isolation of having his name at the top. In the end, "Petty: The Biography" is an elegy for the very idea of a "band" and perhaps for rock and roll itself.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Love me, Love Tom Petty. That's my motto. Ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit but I do love Tom Petty. That's a style of rock n' roll I can really chill to and it's one of the most-played styles of music in my iTunes library. I've watched a lot of biopics about Tom Petty's life and I've researched where I could so there wasn't a lot of new information in here but it was a solid read nonetheless. The only thing that it's important to note about this book is that the author, Warren Zanes, is a friend of Love me, Love Tom Petty. That's my motto. Ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit but I do love Tom Petty. That's a style of rock n' roll I can really chill to and it's one of the most-played styles of music in my iTunes library. I've watched a lot of biopics about Tom Petty's life and I've researched where I could so there wasn't a lot of new information in here but it was a solid read nonetheless. The only thing that it's important to note about this book is that the author, Warren Zanes, is a friend of Tom Petty's so it is skewed toward painting everything in a positive light. Petty made poor decisions in his life, he made mistakes, he is flawed just like the rest of us but at times it felt like Zanes went out of his way to whitewash those mistakes and overemphasize the justification for it. That all being said, the book promises that, "Petty, known for his reclusive style, has shared with Warren Zanes his insights and arguments, his regrets and lasting ambitions, and the details of his life on and off the stage." and on that it delivered.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    I did the audio version of this book - read by Warren Zanes- two months after Petty's sudden death. Zanes is an amazing writer - and reader. I wasn't prepared for the dark ride this book would be/ could only be - to be accurate. Like Petty's music the book also spans the period of my life from the late 70s to the present that creates a feeling of sweet nostalgia making the whole thing a melancholy journey. Each year that we ticked through I'm paralleling with my own life - what was petty doing - I did the audio version of this book - read by Warren Zanes- two months after Petty's sudden death. Zanes is an amazing writer - and reader. I wasn't prepared for the dark ride this book would be/ could only be - to be accurate. Like Petty's music the book also spans the period of my life from the late 70s to the present that creates a feeling of sweet nostalgia making the whole thing a melancholy journey. Each year that we ticked through I'm paralleling with my own life - what was petty doing - what was I doing - and how the music was the backdrop to it all. The cultural relevance also so critical. Zanes caught A time and a person that passed by us in the blink of an eye. Just excellent.

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