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Publisher's Summary

An exhilarating and intimate account of the life of music legend Tom Petty by an accomplished writer and musician who toured with Petty.

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.

©2015 Warren Zanes (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Petty and Zanes have decided to tell the unvarnished truth, and the result is not only the definitive account of Petty's life, but one of the best rock biographies in recent memory." (Rolling Stone)
"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)

What members say

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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.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • Los Angeles, United States
  • 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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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a must read

I have been a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fan for 35 years. When this book 1st came out, I had reservations about this book. The initial media coverage focused on Tom Petty's addiction to heroin and on the troubled first marriage along with the struggles of his ex-wife. A lot of biographies are written about musicians. Some of them are mediocre, and some of them are trash. Wow this book does talk about the good the bad and the ugly, any reservations that I may have had about this book are completely gone. This book has been very well researched, and it is very well written. It is obvious that the author cares about the person that he is writing about. This book is a must read for the diehard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fan as well as a casual fan. The thing that I love best about this book is that it brings out the human being and Tom Petty. The reader will learn about his rough childhood, the ups and downs of his life as a musician and as a human being, and in the end, Tom comes full circle, and this story has not ended yet. I am waiting for what will come up next for Tom Petty.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Best Music Artist Biography Audio Book I've Ever Listened To

By far this is overall the best music artist biography book I've listened to. The combination of the story itself and the content with the performance of the narrator is amazing. I've been a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers fan my whole life which is what drew me to the book in the first place, but I feel like even the casual Petty & HB fan would thoroughly enjoy this book. I've listened to audiobooks about the Beatles and the Stones and individual books for all the members, Hendrix, Nirvana, Dylan, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Neil Young, etc and honestly overall this is the most well done. Buy it, you won't regret it. I can't wait discover more Warren Zanes projects.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Petty revealed.

If you could sum up Petty: The Biography in three words, what would they be?

Really great book

What does Warren Zanes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Warren Zanes has the necessary skills to write compelling books. Being from Boston, an educated city - and having played in a successful rock band, Warren Zanes brings some deep insight of life in a rock band / life on the road to this story. He deftly avoids the sycophantic fan as author routine and peels back some of the mysteries surrounding Petty - namely his depression and struggles with drugs.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant story and performance

I couldn't have enjoyed this book more. I heard the author's appearance in an NPR podcast where he teased the book and I know it would be good. It exceeded expectations. Yes, I'm a Petty fan, but if you're a music fan in general, the book will resonate - and Zanes' performance is calm and unrushed. I felt like T himself was telling the story. Great job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Terrific Book!

Zanes has a way of capturing the time period, the tone and the feeling of the times as Petty finds his way through rock history. Always a Petty fan, I'm more interested than ever in his music. More importantly, I understand the connection between artist and craft. A great history for anyone who loves music, art and the process of making.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Cargod63
  • palm desert, ca, United States
  • 12-31-15

Winner.

I read just about nothing but bio's and history. This is an excellently written book. Keeps your attention with great writing and a great story.
The subject Tom Petty was a bit of a mystery to me. May be by design after reading this book. Very interesting life. I've got a much better appreciation for Tom's work now. Always enjoyed his music but the back story really adds texture to the music. Thank you for inspiring me to give Tom's catalog a full listen. I have to say I'm really enjoying rediscovering his art.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book about my musical hero .. fantastic read

Warren wrote a fantastic bio. The book kept my attention all the way thru I laughed, got choked up and learned so many things about the man and his BAND ... Excellent!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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So, so good.

I've always considered myself a Petty fan, but the first album of his was "Greatest Hits". I basically listened to "Greatest Hits" and Full Moon Fever only for a decade. Recently I switched to Anthology and Live Anthology. Not only was this a fantastic, riveting book, but the performance was great to listen to. I am pumped to explore the full Petty catalog now, finally listening to full albums and checking out the more recent stuff.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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