OffBeat Magazine is celebrating 30 years and reaches that milestone with this November 2017 issue. To mark the anniversary, over the next 12 months OffBeat will re-publish excerpts from features and interviews from the past 30 years.
In our second installment, from our May 2012 issue, Holly George-Warren interviews singer-songwriter and guitarist Tom Petty. With the recent untimely passing of Tom Petty we revisit his interview with OffBeat.
When did you first get a guitar and start learning how to play?
It never struck me that I might play or perform. I just wanted to listen. It wasn’t until the Beatles that there was a real bolt of lightning to the brain: ‘Oh, a self-contained band.’ They had the singers and the band all in one thing. Then, the kids around the neighborhood would talk about ‘let’s form a group and be like the Beatles.’ It looked to me like a really good job. They were obviously young and in charge of their own lives.
What were your band’s influences?
Mudcrutch was strongly British Invasion–influenced and hung on to that into the early ’70s. Then we were trying to be the Southern version of the Flying Burrito Brothers. We stuck a lot of country and ’50s rock into our stuff and tried to blend it all together.
Does your own Southern-ness need sustaining?
I can never get rid of it. I think it really helped [the Heartbreakers]. We really did have to learn to play, to deliver. Once you got up onstage, you really gotta play, or it would be ‘Okay, that’s enough of you. We have some guys up here that work on tractors all day, but they can play like crazy.’ We were all just shitkickers then.
Read more at www.offbeat.com/news/tom-petty-growing-up-petty/