Tom Petty Being a “Beatles Freak” Angered His Producer

Tom Petty loved the Beatles since he was a teenager in Florida. The band made him realize that he wanted to be a musician to make a living. When he accomplished this, he attempted to channel some of their influence into his own work. This caused some dissatisfaction with his producer. He did not appreciate the Beatles-inspired elements that Petty and his guitarist Mike Campbell pushed on their album.

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Tom Petty Knew He Wanted To Pursue Music After Hearing The Beatles

Petty first heard The Beatles when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

“I watched it with my little brother,” he said, according to the Grammys. “My mum and dad were there, but they weren’t interested. They laughed and left the room. But my brother and I, both of us, just freaked out. We thought it was the greatest thing ever.

He said the moment changed the trajectory of his life.

“That was the big moment in my life, really, that changed everything,” he said. “I was a fan up until that point. But that’s what made me want to play music. You saw it could be done. There could be a self-contained unit that wrote, recorded, and sang songs. And it looked like they had a terrible a lot of fun doing it.

His obsession with the Beatles frustrated his producers

Seeing the Beatles on television brought Petty closer to a career in music. Once he did, he wanted their influence to be apparent in his work. For example, he wanted to include accidental moments in the recording process on the final disc.

“I had a TEAC four-track recorder, and it was right around the corner from the washing machine in our little rental house,” Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell said in the book. Petty: the biography by Warren Zanes, adding: “I was trying to record something, and the washing machine was broken, making this loud noise. I yelled at [his wife] Marcie, ‘You have to turn that off!’ And she says, ‘It’s just the normal noises here!’ Like, ‘Shut the fuck up! I live my life !’ Next thing you know, we’d be in the car, and there was Marcie on the radio.

Petty pushed his producer Jimmy Iovine to include these audio clips, but Iovine was not thrilled. According to Zanes, Iovine “didn’t want any of that.”

“Tom and Mike were Beatles freaks,” Iovine said. “They wanted that stuff there, not me. But, really, these guys were already brilliant record producers. The disc is perfect. It was number two The wall for nine weeks. We never went to number one. Talk about The wall.”

Tom Petty would later work with a former Beatles member

Years later, Petty fulfilled a teenage dream working with former Beatle George Harrison in The Traveling Wilburys. Apart from this collaboration, the couple were also close friends.

“Almost as soon as we met them, we spent more time with Tom and Jane Petty than with anyone but the Keltners,” Harrison’s wife, Olivia, said. “They were family.”

Petty said they clicked immediately.

“I think I really needed a friend,” he explained. “My friendship with the band was a different kind of friendship. And it was frayed. I would become very lonely. George came along, and we became so close; it was like we had known each other in another life or something like that. We were friends within minutes of meeting.

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