In this month's cover story, 63-year-old rock icon Tom Petty opens up about a driven life that gave us forty years of classic songs, his best new record since the '90s (Hypnotic Eye, out July 29), and had him avoid a cushy Malibu semiretirement. Here are eight things we learn from the magazine profile.
1. His New (16th) Album Is His Best in 20 Years
"Success is a dangerous thing,” Petty says. "What great band hasn't done some absolute shit? So I'm kind of to a point where, if I'm gonna do it, I want it to be good. Otherwise, there's no point. Who needs another Tom Petty record?"
2. It's Never too Late to Become a Sports Fan
"I never had any interest in sports whatsoever, but then suddenly, about 10 years ago, I got interested in professional basketball," says Petty, who became a diehard Lakers fan after Jack Nicholson started giving him his tickets when he couldn't make it. "I'm loyal to my team," he says, "but right now, they're just a fucking mess."
3. Petty Has Learned to Forgive
"Probably the greatest achievement you can reach is when you're able to forgive the most heinous thing in your life" he says. "I forgive anyone. That's where I've arrived. And if I'm not successful at that, I forgive myself."
4. ...Even His Alcoholic Father
Petty's father was a mean drunk who never approved of his career. "I didn't really like him, so I never really got to know him. It was many, many years before I believed that people had real relationships with their fathers. I thought they were putting me on. I was scared to death of all adults. I didn't trust any of them. Maybe he did me a favor in a way, I don't know."
5. Prescription Marijuana Isn't For Everyone
Petty has never been much of a party animal. But he is "a reefer guy" who laughs at the idea of getting a prescription: "I've had a pipeline of marijuana since 1967."
6. Petty Is a Through-and-Through Californian
Although many take note of Petty's Florida roots, he moved to Malibu over 40 years ago and doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon. "I'm so Californian, dude. I've been here twice as long as I was ever in Florida. So I'll ride it out."
7. The Traveling Wilburys Should Have Done More
"It's kind of stupid that we didn't do more. I used to say, 'Just flash the big W in the sky like the bat signal, and we'll all come.' We just thought we had all the time in the world."
8. Getting Old Isn't All Bad
"As you get older, you get through life a little easier, because you know what's not worth taking on. There's not much I can really endorse about getting old, but that's one thing."