Tom Petty Wanted a Comment He Made About Bob Dylan Taken Out of His Biography

When Tom Petty read over a draft of his biography, he only requested that his biographer, Warren Zanes, take out a comment he made about Bob Dylan in the 1980s. Initially, Petty said that he would never ask to have something taken out of the book, but he went back on his word on this occasion. Zanes explained why Petty’s request surprised him.

A black and white picture of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan leaning against a wood paneled wall.
Bob Dylan and Tom Petty | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Tom Petty said he learned a lot from Bob Dylan 

Petty said that he first got into Dylan’s music when he was a teenager in Florida.

“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 [1966]. I had heard Highway 61 Revisited [1965]. 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.”

He explained that he learned a lot about music from the other musician.

“I learned so much from Bob Dylan,” he 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.”

He only wanted 1 thing taken out of his biography

When Petty approached Zanes to have him write his biography, he had a list of terms. Zanes recounted them in an article for Rolling Stone.

“1) It’s your book, Warren, your contract. 2) It’s not authorized, because authorized biographies are always bulls***. 3) I’ll help you get the interviews you need, so long as the people are willing. 4) I’ll give you all the time with me that you need. 5) I get to read it before it goes to print, and if there’s anything I feel the need to respond to, you weave my response in . . . but I’ll never tell you to take something out. It’s your book.”

He ultimately went back on his final term when it came to a comment he made about Dylan in the 1980s. According to Zanes, it wasn’t even that bad.

“There was a comment about Bob Dylan, nothing alarming by any stretch, not even negative in tone,” he explained. “It was taken from an interview done in the Eighties. Petty asked if I could please remove that, out of respect for Bob. When I explained that it didn’t come from our interviews, that it was already in print and would be cited as such, Petty said, ‘Well, I got away with it once.’ I took it out.”

Tom Petty once said he valued his friendship with Bob Dylan 

Petty and Dylan performed together in The Traveling Wilburys and formed a friendship.

“I found him to be a good guy. I like him. Liked him then, like him now,” he said. “He’s a really good musician, and a great songwriter. One of the nicest things about Bob is that he’s an honest guy. Really, really honest. Not someone who would ever lie. Not someone who would blow his own horn. And I enjoyed all those years of working with him, and I think we had a genuine friendship. Still do. We had a lot of long talks.”

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