Bob Dylan and Tom Petty had a solid personal and professional relationship, one that allowed the former’s son to get close to the latter. Dylan’s son Jakob explained that he spent a lot of time around Petty growing up. He was a lifelong fan of Petty’s music, but he also got to know his personality. Jakob Dylan explained that Petty was unlike other people in his generation.
Tom Petty said Bob Dylan taught the Heartbreakers a lot
In the 1980s, Petty and the Heartbreakers joined Dylan on tour in Australia. Petty and his bandmate were fans of Dylan before this, and they jumped at the chance to perform with him. He explained that he learned a great deal from the other musician while on tour.
“I learned so much from Bob Dylan,” Petty told The Daily Telegraph in 2012. “He gave us a kind of courage that we never had, to learn something quickly and go out on stage and play it. You had to be pretty versatile because arrangements could change, keys might change, there’s just no way of knowing exactly what he wants to do each night. You really learned the value of spontaneity, of how a moment that is real in a concert is worth so much more than one you plan out.”
Jakob Dylan spoke about his relationship with the other musician
Because of his father, Jakob Dylan spent time around Petty growing up.
“I’d been around him plenty when I was younger but, in the last few years, I got to spend even more time with him,” he told The Sun. “He became powerful in my personal life … and it was towards the end of his life.”
He added that Petty was unlike some of the other people in his generation.
“He lacked arrogance,” he explained. “I’m sorry to say it but some people from that generation are a**holes. They’re competitive, they’re not comfortable and there’s bitterness but not Tom. He was never punishing. He let me share the stage with him and he let me interview him for [the documentary] Echo In The Canyon. In the film, he spoke about music with pure, thrilling enjoyment.”
Jakob added that Petty never lost his youthful love of music.
“He was talking about The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield like a teenager, because that music had impacted on him so much,” he explained. “When you’re a kid and you’re into rock’ n’ roll, there’s always room for leather jackets and being cool and Tom never lost any of that.”
Tom Petty watched Bob Dylan have an epiphany on stage
Petty looked up to Dylan in the way Jakob looked up to him. He observed him while they were performing together. Because of this, Petty witnessed Dylan have an epiphany on stage. Dylan felt uninspired and exhausted during the tour until one night while performing.
“Everything came back, and it came back in multidimension,” Dylan wrote, per the book Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. “Even I was surprised. It left me kind of shaky. Immediately, I was flying high.”
Petty remembered the moment well.
“I remember having a shock when he went to sing and nothing came out,” he said. “He just kind of took a deep breath and came back, full-voiced.”