Thirty years ago this week for In the Studio episode #8 focusing on the soap opera behind Damn the Torpedoes , the breakthrough third album from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Gainseville Gator revealed the personal battles he and the Heartbreakers had to fight just so that we could enjoy one of the most important rock albums of the last forty years. Prior to this conversation, the last time I had interviewed Tom Petty had been in Dallas in the Fall 1987 when he and the Heartbreakers had toured supporting Bob Dylan. Petty had his first wife and daughters with him on the tour because they were quite literally homeless after an arsonist had set fire to their home while Tom and family ate breakfast, barely escaping with their lives but losing everything but the clothes on their backs.Now in May 1988, almost a year to the day later, the Pettys were real-life “Refugees” staying in the Beverly Hills home of “Charo”. The life-sized gold lion statue in the foyer was a dead giveaway. “Cuchi cuchi, y’all”. You just can’t make this stuff up.
We sat down in the workout room that apparently Charo used to…well…defy gravity, I suppose you’d say. Shortly after starting the interview about the making of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ breakthrough third album Damn the Torpedoes , a modern day thriller complete with intrigue, heroes, villains, intimidation, brawling, and courtroom drama, Tom casually mentioned that he had been working on his first solo material, and would I like to have a listen to what he’s done so far? Ah, but that is a whole ‘nuther edition of In the Studio !- Redbeard