Petty: the biography

Zanes, Warren. Petty: the Biography. Henry Holt & Co., 2015.

Reason read: as part of the Early Review program for LibraryThing.

This is not your typical biography. Maybe it’s because of Petty’s private nature. Maybe it’s the direction the author wanted to take with the story. Maybe this is an unauthorized “biography” and so intimate details could not and would not be forthcoming. Whatever the reason, this is more about the making of the band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, than it is about Tom Petty, the individual.
That is not to say there aren’t stories about Petty’s childhood and family life growing up in Florida. The abuses he suffered, the poverty he endured, the dreams he clung to as a teenager are all there. But other parts of his life, the monumental and profound, like getting married and becoming a father, are skipped over as if worth barely a mention.
It is hard to say if this biography is authorized by Petty or not. Interviews with Petty are slyly hinted at but not wholly confirmed. Zanes arrives at more detail through band mates and friends. Almost the same intimate details are available on Wikipedia.

If you are looking for a detailed account of the music scene when Petty got his start with Mudcrutch, this is the book for you. Zanes does a great job setting the stage, so to speak, as well as shuttling the reader through the industry’s changes over the years.



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