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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 Gainesville, Florida, with more than a little hillbilly in his blood, Tom Petty was a Southern shit kicker, a kid without a whole lot of promise. Rock and roll made it otherwise. From meeting Elvis to seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan to producing Del Shannon; backing Bob Dylan; putting together a band with George Harrison, Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne; making records with Johnny Cash; and sending well more than a dozen of his own celebrated recordings high onto the charts, Tom Petty's story has all the drama of a rock and roll epic.
Now in his mid-60s, still making records and still touring, 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.
This is an audiobook for those who know and love the songs, from "American Girl" and "Refugee" to "Free Fallin'" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance", and for those who want to see the classic rock and roll era embodied in one man's remarkable story. Dark and mysterious, Petty manages to come back again and again, showing us what the music can do and where it can take us.
BONUS AUDIO: In an exclusive Audible interview, author and narrator Warren Zanes discusses the cultural significance behind rock biographies, how great records continue to reveal new things over time, and the enduring and "authentic rock-and-roll cool" that is Tom Petty.
"Imagine a long ride on the tour bus with Tom and the Heartbreakers where everyone was feeling loose enough to tell all their stories. What a historic night that would be. This book is that." (Eddie Vedder)
"This amazing book is a Tom Petty biography (and it's great on that account) but it's far more than that. It's an X-ray of the most fragile, most volatile, and most sublime social unit ever invented: the rock-and-roll band. The alliances, the distortions, the deep bruises and the absurd elations that can never be explained to an outsider. Sure, Petty is a book about a rock band but it's really a book about being human - how we meet and collaborate, break up and make up, learn to trust (or not) and, once in a lucky while, sing as loud as we can. It's a masterpiece." (Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By tru britty on 12-15-15
Tom Petty gets some bio love
I'm always on the lookout for a good music biography. And this one has made my very good list.
Author Warren Zanes is a musician as well as a writer. He worked with Petty in the past. At first, I thought, oh no, this is gonna be one of those, hey, let me tell you about my pal, rock star Tom Petty.
Petty: The Biography is not that kind of book. It's the story of a kid who meets Elvis, sees the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and steals every good musician he can find to ride music out of Gainesville, Florida, and away from an abusive dad. You like the Tom Petty that Warren Zanes tells you about, and that's great if you're gonna ride this story to the end.
The author is so good at painting a portrait of a place and time. He really nails the punch-drunk, sometimes stupid, sometimes humiliating experience of following a dream without a road map.
Along the way, you meet an ensemble cast of musicians from every incarnation of Mudcrutch, Petty's early band, to the Heartbreakers. But there are plenty more, even in the Gainesville chapters, so if you're like me you'll sometimes forget who's who. I didn't know Florida in the late '60s - early '70s was such a hotbed of musical talent, the Allman brothers and Bernie Leadon of the Eagles among the lot.
Zanes hits all the highs and lows of Tom Petty's long career. The recording of the first album with Shelter Records in 1976. The early success in England and later in America. Petty's declaration of bankruptcy in 1979 and court battle with MCA for control of his songwriting and career. The creation of songs like "American Girl" and "Here Comes My Girl" and the solo album Full Moon Fever. Personality conflicts. Band members coming and going and coming back. The Traveling Wilburys. And Petty taking his music into the 21st century as an elder statesman of rock.
Warren Zanes also narrates the audiobook. He's not a dramatic reader. His narration is straight, no frills, and doesn't get in the way of the story.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
By James on 12-29-15
One of the best biographies ever
Any additional comments?
The three things that make any audiobook worth getting are the story, the writing and the narration. Warren Zanes has absolutely nailed all three in this biography of Tom Petty. The story of Petty, which I only discovered though this audiobook, is inspiring and fascinating. The content is highly detailed and backed up by first hand quotes from the people that were there. And there is quite a fascinating cast of characters. Zanes brings it all to life with a perfectly pitched, evocative writing style which is matched by his performance.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful