Tom Petty’s Wife Said He Was ‘Super-Nostalgic’ in the Week Before His Death

Tom Petty’s death took his friends, fellow musicians, and fans by surprise. He had just returned from an anniversary tour and was excited about new musical prospects. Looking back on the final week of his life, Petty’s wife shared that he became unusually nostalgic about minor moments in his past. She shared what he dwelled on.

Tom Petty wears a white tank top and black vest and plays the guitar.
Tom Petty | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Tom Petty completed an anniversary tour shortly before his death

In 2017, Petty set off on an anniversary tour to celebrate 40 years with the Heartbreakers. He was determined to finish the tour, even though he had fractured his hip.

“I did not want him to go,” his wife Dana told Rolling Stone in 2020. “He wouldn’t hear it. He really thought it was going to be OK: ‘I’ve had a broken hip for two years. What’s the worst that could happen?’ It definitely wasn’t the healthiest move. Not worth it.”

His longtime friend Stevie Nicks shared a similar sentiment

“He should’ve canceled, and he should’ve just gone home and gone to the hospital. But not Tom,” she said, per HuffPost. “He was gonna go down that river. And so, God bless him, he finished his tour at the Hollywood Bowl. Three shows. And one week later he died — but he got down the river. So Tom, I know you’re standing next to me cause you always have been for so many years.”

His wife said he grew increasingly nostalgic

As he toured and combatted health issues, Petty also grew increasingly nostalgic. When the tour ended, he asked Dana to play him an old music video for his 2002 song “Fun in the Desert.” He also asked her to track down one of his high school girlfriends on Facebook. In hindsight, she finds this odd.

“He hated Facebook,” she said. “But he got super-nostalgic. Looking back, it’s very strange.”

This nostalgia was in the spirit of one of his dream projects, the release of his 1994 album Wildflowers in its intended two-disc form.

“We’re going to put out the songs from the other record as well,” he said in 2013. “We recorded quite a lot of songs and dug them out, and the songs are just so cool.”

In 2020, three years after his death, the album Wildflowers & All the Rest was released.

“I know he really wanted it to be finished,” his bandmate Mike Campbell said. “And it felt good to do what he wanted and to follow through on his original idea.”

Tom Petty’s death brought an outpouring of messages from other musicians

Petty’s death stunned the music world and brought messages of grief and love from his fellow artists.

“I got the phone call and told the folks in my house,” Bruce Springsteen told Rolling Stone. “There were shrieks of horror. You couldn’t quite believe it. We were from the same generation of rock & rollers. We started around the same time and had a lot of the same influences. And when I lived in California, I got to know him quite well. He was just a lovely guy who loved rock & roll and came up the hard way.”

His former bandmate Bob Dylan made a rare public statement about Petty.

“I thought the world of Tom,” he said. “He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

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