A new Tom Petty biography, Petty: The Biography, is slated to hit bookstores and online retailers on November 10. The book is reported to detail the iconic musician’s past heroin use, his relationships with other members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the formation of the The Traveling Wilburys, reports Ultimate Classic Rock.
The Petty biography was written by Warren Zanes, who was previously a member of the Del Fuegos, a band that opened for Tom Petty in the ’80s and was given “full access” to write the book, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Though the biography is officially unauthorized, Zanes reports that Petty “pretty much endorses” the book. Petty is said to have taken notice of Zanes’ biography of Dusty Springfield, Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis (Thirty Three and a Third series), and asked the writer to dinner, which “rekindled their friendship.”
Though the 2007 documentary about Tom Petty, Runnin’ Down a Dream, originally touched on the musician’s trouble with heroin, it was reported that Petty had references to the drug removed. Most fans were reportedly unaware that Petty had any involvement with heroin at all.
Warren Zanes spoke about Petty’s reaction to the fact that the author intended to include details of his heroin use.
“The first thing he said to me on the subject is ‘I am very concerned that talking about this is putting a bad example out there for young people. If anyone is going to think heroin is an option because they know my story of using heroin, I can’t do this.'”
The biography also includes information gleaned from an interview conducted with ex-Heartbreaker Stan Lynch, who had a “falling-out with Petty,” resulting in his departure from the band. At first, Lynch was reported to be reluctant to speak with Zanes, but after some coaxing he spoke “unflinchingly” with regard to his past association with Petty.
Zanes was apparently a guest at a party held at Tom Petty’s house in the ’80s when he learned that George Harrison was there. After asking Petty’s now ex-wife, Jane Benyo Petty, if he could meet Harrison, he was taken to Petty’s office where Harrison, Petty, and Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra were playing music, essentially the “birth of the Traveling Wilburys.”
Zanes discussed how, once musicians reach the status of Tom Petty or George Harrison, it is more difficult for them to enter into true friendships with others. Petty, Harrison, and Lynne shared something in their fame that few others could understand and gave them freedom to trust and open up to one another. The fact that Petty has almost no connection with his family, who are said to live in Florida, would seem to underscore how much the musician valued his friendship with Harrison, Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan, the other members of the Wiburys, and the members of the Heartbreakers.
[Feature Photo by Jerod Harris / Getty Images]