Warren Zanes discusses his new book, Petty: The Biography, with Bill Janovitz, one of the founding members of the band Buffalo Tom. In the mid-eighties, rock icon Tom Petty invited then-22-year-old Warren Zanes and his band, the Del Fuegos, to open for him and the Heartbreakers on a three-month summer tour. At the time, Zanes never would have guessed that 30 years later he would pen Petty’s biography with the artist’s full cooperation and unguarded honesty.
Known for his reclusive ways, Petty wrote timeless songs that gave us some beautiful clues about his life, but in Petty: The Biography (Henry Holt; on sale November 10, 2015), Zanes, an acclaimed musician, writer, filmmaker, and a former vice president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, fills in the rest of the story. For the first time, Petty speaks about the disorientations of success, tensions within his band, childhood abuse, heroin use, and his long but troubled first marriage. Petty’s family, producers (including Rick Rubin, Jimmy Iovine, and Jeff Lynne), and bandmates past and present all weigh in as well.
Janovitz has been based in Boston since 1988, having founded Buffalo Tom at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He has written two books on the Rolling Stones, the most recent being Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones (2013, St. Martin's Press).