7

“We became very good friends, really, for decades. I don’t like to bring it up that much, because The Beatles are so special that people might see it as boasting or something. But he actually became my friend, past being a Beatle to me. It was like having an older brother that had a lot of experience in the music business, someone who I could go to with my troubles and questions.

“I think [spirituality], probably, was the greatest gift he gave me. He gave me a way of understanding a higher power without it being stupid, or having tons of rules and books to read. But the best thing I can say to people that are curious about that is George was probably everything that you thought he was, and then some more. Very funny man; he could just kill me with his humor. He was a great guy and I miss him terribly.

“Strangely enough, we got along very well right away. He was the kind of person that, when he came across a good thing or the potential for a friend, he really was aggressive about it. And he had a way of knocking out anything that was extracurricular, or in the way of what was really going on. He could get you comfortable with him very quickly. I was always asking Beatle questions, and probably annoyed him. But, you know, he liked The Beatles, too. He liked talking about it and remembering it.”

[Tom Petty, NPR Music, 4th August 2014]

Tom Petty talking about George in 2014, accompanied by some of the ‘polaroids’ from the Traveling Wilburys sessions. 

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988; photographed by Neal Preston.

“[Preston] remembers being called by a contact to go to a house in Encino, California, for some shots of Tom Petty and a few friends. ‘Tom’s gonna call you and he’ll give you the details,’ she said.
When Petty called, Preston asked for directions. ‘“Well, it’s er, it’s um, er… here, talk to George.” So he hands the phone over to a guy named George, and this guy says “Hi, this is George.” ‘I ask what’s the address and it’s a distinctly Liverpudlian accent and I suddenly realize it’s #GeorgeHarrison and he telling me what exit to get off the 101.
‘I’m in a haze now. I remember nothing about the rest of that phone call, but I managed to write the address.’
When he got to the house he found Petty not only with George Harrison, but also Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. They were just forming the #TravelingWilburys.
‘I get to the house about an hour later, knock on the door and a roadie lets me in and I walk in and George is sitting at the table and I see Roy in the kitchen mixing some tea or something and I think this is pretty wild.’
But while Preston was in awe of Harrison — ‘in my world, a Beatle trumps anyone,’ he said — the musicians were more worried about Dylan. ‘George pulls me aside and takes me in this small room, closes the door and says: “Now, listen to me, Bob is in a pretty good mood. I’ll let you know when the mood is just right, I’ll give you a sign and then we’ll shoot, But we won’t shoot until Bob is ready.”
‘Then Tom Petty walks in, gives me a hug and says: “Now, Bob’s in an ok mood.” It’s all the same thing. They’re walking on eggshells around Bob Dylan.’
He got the picture he wanted of the five Wilburys together, but not before another shot of four of the supergroup with Dylan way in the background, hunched over playing pinball before he would join his bandmates.
Many years later, after George’s 2001 death, his widow Olivia visited Preston with a documentary about the Traveling Wilburys. She had wanted him to see that it opened with a picture the roadie had taken of Preston’s shoot.” - Daily Mail, 17 October 2017

6

He remembers being called by a contact to go to a house in Encino, California, for some shots of Tom Petty and a few friends. ‘Tom’s gonna call you and he’ll give you the details,’ she said.

When Petty called, Preston asked for directions. ‘“Well, it’s er, it’s um, er… here, talk to George. So he hands the phone over to a guy named George, and this guy says “Hi, this is George.”

‘I ask what’s the address and it’s a distinctly Liverpudlian accent and I suddenly realize it’s George Harrison and he telling me what exit to get off the 101.

‘I’m in a haze now. I remember nothing about the rest of that phone call, but I managed to write the address.’

When he got to the house he found Petty not only with George Harrison, but also Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. They were just forming the Traveling Wilburys.

‘I get to the house about an hour later, knock on the door and a roadie lets me in and I walk in and George is sitting at the table and I see Roy in the kitchen mixing some tea or something and I think this is pretty wild.’

But while Preston was in awe of Harrison — ‘in my world, a Beatle trumps anyone,’ he said — the musicians were more worried about Dylan.

‘George pulls me aside and takes me in this small room, closes the door and says: “Now, listen to me, Bob is in a pretty good mood. I’ll let you know when the mood is just right, I’ll give you a sign and then we’ll shoot, But we won’t shoot until Bob is ready.”

‘Then Tom Petty walks in, gives me a hug and says: “Now, Bob’s in an ok mood.” It’s all the same thing. They’re walking on eggshells around Bob Dylan.’

He got the picture he wanted of the five Wilburys together, but not before another shot of four of the supergroup with Dylan way in the background, hunched over playing pinball before he would join his bandmates.

[How George Harrison babysat Bob Dylan, Daily Mail, 17th Oct 2017]

The photo photographer Neal Preston is referring to is the top photo. The other photos are more by Neal Preston taken on the same day. (From his new book, Exhilarated and Exhausted)

Pics: Neal Preston.

6

Tom Petty Dead at 66

Tom Petty, the bandleader who shot to fame with the Heartbreakers and enjoyed a successful, four-decade career, died late Monday.

He was 66.

Petty suffered cardiac arrest early in the day and was rushed unconscious to a hospital. He was taken off life support and CBS News reported his death that afternoon before the Los Angeles Police walked back the confirmation it provided.

”Sending love to Tom Petty and his family at this difficult time,” Paul McCartney tweeted at the time.

Confusion persisted until manager Tony Dimitriades confirmed Petty’s death on Facebook late on Oct. 2.

”On behalf of the Tom Petty family we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty.

”He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PST surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

”So sad about Tom Petty, he made some great music,” Mick Jagger tweeted. “Thoughts are with his family.”

Petty and the Heartbreakers found massive success with their third album, 1979’s Damn the Torpedos. It spawned the hits “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That” and cemented a partnership that continued through the band’s 40th-anniversary tour, which wrapped Sept. 25.

Dwight Yoakam took to Facebook to eulogize Petty and said he arrived at just the right time.

”Just about the time when the punks had overrun the music world, sacked and burned Rome, this cat showed up still redneck, hot rod, rockin’!! … Never got to know him, except as a fan, but I’m sure gonna miss him.”

Ted Nugent called Petty a “great gifted hardworking American soulmusic master” in a Facebook post.

”We thank and salute the great musician for enriching so many peoples lives with his brilliant songwriting, soulful performances and virtuoso bandmates,” he said. “… His music and soul will live forever.”

Outside the Heartbreakers, Petty was a successful solo artist with albums such as Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers. In 1988, he was the kid (dubbed “Charlie T. Jr.”) in the Traveling Wilburys, with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan and recently toured and recorded with a reconstituted version of his first band, Mudcrutch.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Dylan called Petty’s death, “shocking, crushing news.

“I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

An unabashed Byrds fan, Petty often played “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star” in concert and produced Chris Hillman’s just-released Bidin’ My Time LP.

“[He’s] very subtle. He has good ideas, and he … lets the music flow,” Hillman told The Boot in discussing Petty’s production skills. “He was very good, a very good producer. I’ve worked with some good ones, and he’s up there with them.”

”Tom Petty was a kind friend with a beautiful soul,” Eddie Money said. “Our condolences go out to his family and may he rest in peace. We will miss him.”

A “heartbroken” Brian Wilson offered “love and mercy” to Petty’s friends, family and fans.

”He was just too young and still in his prime,” Wilson wrote. “Tom was a hell of a songwriter and record-maker and he will be missed by everyone who loves music. I’m so sad to hear about this.”

At the height of his success, Petty fought against record labels’ efforts to raise LP prices and was revered for his band’s live shows.

”His music will endure,” Huey Lewis said on Facebook.

Outside of music, Petty provided the voice of Lucky on “Family Guy.”

”Devastating loss in Mr. Tom Petty,” George Thorogood said on Facebook. “He will be remembered as a true rock legend - so many classics. Thoughts and prayers to the Petty family and team.”

Petty had said the just-wrapped tour would be the Heartbreakers’ last major outing, but the band, which released an unlikely No. 1 album Hypnotic Eye in 2014, had a handful of dates scheduled for later this year.

Kid Rock noted Petty’s death came less than 24 hours after 59 concertgoers were murdered and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas.

”Just when I though today could not get any worse … R.I.P. Tom Petty,” he said on Facebook.

“Thank you for your beautiful music and inspiration.”

10/3/17

How I imagine the creation of The Traveling Wilburys
  • George Harrison: Hey, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, we are eating lunch together because we're friends, like all famous people.
  • Roy Orbison: Yes we are, George and Jeff, we are enjoying a lovely lunch.
  • George: I am thinking about going into a studio and playing a song or two would you like to join me?
  • Roy: Why yes, that sounds lovely.
  • Jeff Lynne: I agree with Roy let us play music together.
  • George: Most good. Our mutual friend, Bob Dylan, has a studio we might be able to use, let me call him.
  • (Dials phone)
  • *rings once*
  • Bob Dylan: Hello?
  • George: Hello Bob, I would like to use your studio tomorrow.
  • Bob: I will allow it.
  • George: Excellent. May I bring our mutual friends, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison?
  • Bob: I will allow it.
  • George: Great! I will see you tomorrow.
  • Bob: I will allow it.
  • (Hangs up phone)
  • George: Oh snap, I forgot my guitar at our mutual friend Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' house. I guess we should invite him.
  • (The next day)
  • Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: George Harrison, and our mutual friends Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne, what a surprise. Here is your guitar, George.
  • George: Thank you, Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We are heading out to visit our mutual friend Bob Dylan and record a song. Would you like to come along?
  • Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Yes. That would be most good.
  • (at Bob Dylan's house)
  • Bob: Good, my friend George Harrison and our mutual friends, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have arrived.
  • George: Hello Bob.
  • Jeff: Hello Bob.
  • Roy: Hello Bob
  • Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Hello Bob.
  • Bob (looking in a mirror): Hello Bob.
  • George: We should make a band.
  • Jeff: and we should travel.
  • Roy: Like a traveling show.
  • George: We're so close, we are like family.
  • Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: I wish my last name was Wilbury.
  • George: We should call ourselves the Traveling Wilburys
  • Bob: I will allow it.

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988.

“I just loved playing with the Traveling Wilburys. It was such fun doing that. Oddly enough, with a band that included, besides myself, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jim Keltner on drums, I felt less pressure than I had on many smaller projects, beause none of us had to worry about the solo performance thing so much. There was so much input from everybody, and we were all relieved to be in a band of equals where no one had to worry about doing all the lead vocals or all the writing. I think a lot of people who liked the first album didn’t get the second one, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. Unfortunately, it came out just when the Gulf War was starting and the economy was going down. I remember we were going down to choose outfits for our first video and we heard that they had just bombed Baghdad. But a song like ‘New Blue Moon’ [from Vol. 3] has that slap-back echo and the feel of all those great Fifties records I loved. It stands up to modern technology, yet has the brightness and feel of a real rockabilly record from the Fifties or early Sixties. It made me feel like I’d come full circle in a way.” - George Harrison, Guitar World, 1992

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The Traveling Wilburys

Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and Tom Petty (or rather, Otis, Nelson, and Charlie T. Jr Wilbury), in a screen capture from The True History of The Traveling Wilburys.

“I went through a bad period, you know, when my house burned… Just kind of one of those great gifts to run into Jeff and George like I did at that time.

They probably don’t even realize it, but it really took away a lot of the pain.” - Tom Petty, In The Studio With Redbeard, 1989