Tom Petty inspired a scene in This Is Spinal Tap
In the famous comedy/musical film, there was a scene where the band members got lost backstage in a Cleveland venue. In his commentary for the Criterion laser disc edition, screenwriter Christopher Guest recalls the inspiration for the scene: "We saw a tape of Tom Petty playing somewhere in Germany, where he's walking backstage and a door's opened and he ends up on an indoor tennis court and there's just this moment of stunned, you know, 'Where am I?'"
Tom Petty and his family were victims of an arsonist attack
On 17th May 1987 while Tom Petty and his family were sitting down to breakfast when they began to smell smoke. Within seconds, Petty's home was engulfed in flames. He was able to get his wife and five-year-old daughter out safely and fought the blaze alongside his housekeeper. The only room that didn't burn down was his basement studio.
The Pettys lost almost everything, including Tom's iconic grey top hat.
The cops determined that the fire was no accident. Instead, it was a horrific act by an arsonist who had poured lighter fluid all over the house's back staircase. Although Petty had trouble using the word 'fire' in his lyrics, he wrote a famous song about his ordeal, 'I Won't Back Down' which appeared on the 1989 Full Moon Fever album.
With no suspects ever charged, the case remains unsolved.
Tom Petty made a vocal appearance on The Simpsons
He appeared on 'How I Spent My Strummer Vacation', as a lyrics teacher. In the same episode, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer also played themselves on that episode.
Tom Petty became a Travelling Wilbury by accident
When George Harrison formed The Travelling Wilburys in the 80s, the band already included himself, Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan. When Harrison was heading to Dylan's home studio to begin recording a B-side to their single, 'This is Love', Harrison went to Petty's home to retrieve a guitar that he left. Upon doing so, he casually asked Petty if he was keen to join the recording session.
The bandmates had such a great time together, they collectively decided to record a full album together. One of their biggest hits was 'Handle With Care'.
He took guitar lessons from Don Felder of The Eagles
Felder was four years older than Petty and taught him how to play the guitar when he was a mere teenager. "He was playing bass at the time in this band which I think was called the Epics. I remember them as the Rucker Brothers Band. It had two guitar players that both just flailed artlessly on the electric guitar, and Tommy was playing bass and singing and fronting the band, and he really didn't want to be the singing bass player," Felder told WMMR. "He wanted to play guitar, so I started teaching him guitar in this music store and going out to see him and teaching him at his house."
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
On 28th April 1999, a star was unveiled for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. You can find it on Hollywood Boulevard in between Hollywood Professional Building and The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Pop singer Sam Smith has to pay 12.5% as a writing credit with Tom Petty for copying 'I Won't Back Down'
In 2015, Sam Smith released a song titled Stay With Me, and it was obvious that the chorus of the song shared similarities to Petty's I Won't Back Down.
However, Petty quickly clarified the situation when the "lawsuit" was reported by The Sun saying, "About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door, but in this case it got by. Sam's people were very understanding of our predicament, and we easily came to an agreement."
"The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it," Petty continued. "How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing, and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident, no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all."
Watch PianoManChuck explain the similarities below.