Tom Petty and Bob Dylan grew close over musical collaboration and a slew of tour dates in the 1980s. Petty said that he considered Dylan a good friend after they toured together. He proved their friendship by decorating his home studio with Dylan’s artwork.
Bob Dylan and Tom Petty toured together in the 1980s
Petty counted himself as a fan of Dylan long before he became famous himself.
“We hadn’t heard Dylan [growing up in Florida] until ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ came out as a single,” he explained, per American Songwriter. “And we loved that right away. We learned that, did it in the show. We learned all his singles. We didn’t have Dylan albums until Blonde on Blonde . I had heard Highway 61 Revisited . A friend of mine had that. But I actually bought Blonde on Blonde. That’s where I really got into Bob. And I started to really dig his thing.”
Though he’d looked up to Dylan for years, Petty said that he treated the other musician like a normal person. This helped them form an easy friendship during their tour and afterward.
“I always found that if I asked Bob a direct question, I would get a direct answer. So maybe our friendship wasn’t that difficult, because I made up my mind that I would treat him like anybody else,” he explained. “Though I was certainly in awe of his talent. But people are just people. And I don’t remember ever asking him a question when he didn’t give me a direct answer.”
Tom Petty kept Bob Dylan’s artwork in his home
Outside of being a singer and songwriter, Dylan is a visual artist. The musician welds, paints, and sketches. His work even appeared in an exhibition at the Patricia and Philip Frost Art Museum in Miami. He explained that he finds artistic inspiration in many places.
“Seeing many of my works years after I completed them is a fascinating experience,” the musician said, per Smithsonian Magazine. “I don’t really associate them with any particular time or place or state of mind, but view them as part of a long arc … One can be as profoundly influenced by events in Morretes, Brazil, as they can be by the man who sells El País in Madrid.”
Some items that wouldn’t have been in the exhibition were the pieces of artwork at Petty’s home. In his home studio, he once kept a framed charcoal drawing by Dylan (per The Petty Archives).
In 2014, Petty welcomed Uncut into his studio. The article noted that “there are still plenty of indications that this is a musician’s idea of a man-cave, such as the enviable array of guitars on stands that line the walls of the recording space, the deep-cushioned grey sectional sofa and vintage red Coca-Cola machine in the lounge. Personal mementoes – like a painting whose thick brushstrokes mark it as the handiwork of Petty’s friend Bob Dylan – decorate the walls.”
Stevie Nicks once said it was fascinating to watch the two men disagree
“I got to watch them put their personalities together, and it was fascinating,” she recounted in a 1989 interview with the Austin American-Statesman. “I watched some — well, not exactly rows — but a little bit of going back and forth between them.”