Some of Tom Petty‘s Heartbreakers have broken their silence about his death on October 2.
Guitarist Mike Campbell tells Rolling Stone that, “I’m just so sad to think that I’m not going to play those songs again.”
Campbell says that the group’s 40th anniversary tour during the summer “was magical, it was spiritual. Everybody was so happy, especially Tom — full of glory and hope.”
Keyboardist Benmont Tench adds that Petty “was just kicking ass, and we had found another level of playing as a band. There was a depth of soul coming through…I figured I’d get a call in a month or two: ‘Tom wants to get together and jam some shit out.'”
During the tour Petty was suffering from a hairline fracture on his hip, and manager Tony Dimitriades says that, “I don’t know how it happened. I don’t think he even know when it happened.” And though Dimitriades broached the idea of canceling the tour, he says Petty told him, “Why not? I’ll do it in a chair if I have do.”
J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf, who opened some shows on Petty’s tour, tells us he was aware of what Petty was going through, though there was no hint of any of the heart issues that led to his death:
“He had very severe hip pain and he could hardly walk. I just admired how he just persevered. He didn’t want to move the tour; He was gonna address it after the tour, from what I know, and so just seeing him struggling to get on stage, nobody knew once he got on stage. Once he put the guitar on and he kicked in and he did his show, and I don’t think anybody had any idea how much pain he was in.”
Also weighing in to Rolling Stone was Bruce Springsteen, who dedicated the first preview of new Broadway show to Petty. He tells the magazine that, “I got the phone call and told the folks in my house. There were shrieks of horror. You couldn’t quite believe it. We were from the same generation of rock & rollers. We started around the same time and had a lot of the same influences. And when I lived in California, I got to know him quite well. He was just a lovely guy who loved rock & roll and came up the hard way.”
A private funeral was held for Petty on Monday (October 16) in Pacific Pallisades, Calif. A final cause of death is still being determined.
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.