Tom Petty is between albums in 2011, but that hasn't kept the rocker away from his usual musical obsessions. It's what fuels his weekly radio show on Sirius XM, Tom Petty's Buried Treasure (now in its sixth year), and its playlist of classic rock and soul. On Thursday night, Petty invited a small crowd of fans to a special live edition of the show in Hollywood, where he took questions, played records and dispelled tall tales from his career.
"Even when the Heartbreakers are really busy, I'm up all night putting this together," Petty said of Buried Treasure. He spins music that inspires him, from Roy Orbison to the Black Keys – rarely anything of his own.
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The night fittingly returned him to EastWest Studios (formerly Cello Studios), where Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recorded The Last DJ in 2002, and where Elvis, Sinatra and Metallica also recorded. As a teen, Petty said, he listened endlessly to AM radio, when "I didn't have a budget to buy a lot of albums," but soon began recycling bottles to raise enough money to buy a record every week, and absorbed new hit singles by the Kinks, the Ventures, the Animals, all songs that he now plays on his show. "I play a lot of that stuff because I'm so emotionally attached to it,' Petty said. "It was a great time for music, and I'm lucky I was born when I was born, I guess."
He made no grand announcements about future projects – but did recount writing 1987's "Jammin' Me" with sometime collaborator Bob Dylan. "That day we were in a hotel room, and I remember it coming really quickly," Petty recalled. "Bob was grabbing lines out the newspaper and I was trying to finish the lines as quick as I could. Crazy stuff."
He was also asked about any careers he had before he began making records. "Not successfully. I tried a couple of jobs," Petty said. "I took a grave-digging job because you didn't have to look too sharp. I got my foot caught in the lawnmower on my first day."