Last summer, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ tour was one of their most successful ever, drawing manic and younger crowds that, according to Petty, sang “so loud they actually drowned us out” and included girls “throwing their underwear.” This year, the rock legend and the five-member Heartbreakers crew are heading back on the road with the Highway Companions Tour, kicking off June 9th in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Major acts — many of which typically headline amphitheaters themselves — will join Petty. The first leg will run through June and July and feature jam-band titan Trey Anastasio, followed by Pearl Jam. The Allman Brothers Band will serve as support for leg two, in July and August, while openers for leg three — slated for September and October — have yet to be announced.
Petty will also be headlining the Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 16th; Summerfest in Milwaukee, on June 29th and 30th; and the Austin City Limits Festival on September 17th.
The Highway Companions Tour may be Petty’s final major summer outing. “I think we should do this tour and then put an end to doing national tours, and just play now and then where we want to play,” Petty told Rolling Stone recently, citing his thirty years in the business. (The group released their self-titled debut in 1976.) “The idea of doing sheds or arenas . . . you turn into an animal by the time it’s done.”
In the meantime, Petty is also finishing work on Highway Companion, his third solo album and follow-up to 1994’s stoner-friendly Wildflowers. The new record is due this summer.
“It’s a quieter album than I’ve done before,” Petty said of the album, which features accompaniment from Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne. “I don’t think I wasted any lines on this album. I think the songs are all there.” Among the albums cuts are “Square One,” “Turn This Car Around,” “Saving Grace” and “Big Weekend” — the latter two will debut in upcoming promos for the NBA finals.
Also, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show) has begun shooting a documentary about the Heartbreakers’ history.
But with a new solo album, huge summer tour and documentary in the works, fans shouldn’t get too nervous that the fifty-five-year-old Petty will be stopping anytime soon. “The only thing keeping me from wrapping things up is just going, ‘Well, I wonder if there’s one more in me?'”