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Chris Hillman on Working With Tom Petty

Depending on what's in the recent vaults, Tom Petty's final recordings may not have been for himself.

Petty produced Bidin' My Time, the new album by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chris Hillman -- a key member of the key Petty influence the Byrds. In addition to producing, Petty performs on two of the album's tracks, while Heartbreakers members Benmont Tench, Steve Ferrone and Mike Campbell also appear on the album.

Hillman -- who also co-founded the Flying Burrito Brothers Band and the Desert Rose Band -- tells us that Petty's love for the Byrds bonded the two musicians early on:

"Tom has always acknowledged the Byrds in the early part of his career...He cut a couple of our songs, 'Feel A Whole Lot Better' and 'Rock and Roll Star' on a live album, and he really nailed 'em, just so much excitement. And he's a great guy. I knew him from 1978 when the Heartbreakers were starting to break...I really got to know him on this project,  and it's hard for me to look at Tom as a true rock star that he is, and he is such a humble guy and he loves music and understands and loves all kinds of music, which I like. So as a producer he was fantastic."

Hillman's album also includes a rendition of Petty's "Wildflowers," which he'd performed during the MusiCares Person of the Year gala honoring Petty earlier this year.


Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.