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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Call Me a Punk and I'll Cut You...

That was a quote - or damn close to the actual words spoken by Tom Petty around the time he and the Heartbreakers started really playing around the country, supporting their phenomenal eponymous debut album.

You see, they came around at the same time as all the punk bands... and TP was wearing a leather jacket on the cover... instead of punk rock studs, he had a bullet belt... he was cool... super cool. To top it off, if you were in Los Angeles, chances are you saw TP & the HB play a double bill with Blondie at the Whisky a Go Go that week in February 1977 before Blondie opened for the Ramones. I knew at the time it was a great week for music, and in retrospect, it was a foreshadowing of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductees of recent years. (They're all in!)

Johnny Ramone 1977

It would have been easy and natural to lump them all in.... besides, Johnny Thunders had a band called the Heartbreakers as well... pretty good name for a band.

Johnny Thunders

But let me say this about Tom Petty --- he may have written some classic rock anthems, his music may be just too disarmingly easy and fantastically straightforward... but he does still have that attitude that we associate with the rock n roll class of 1976.... let's start with that quote - "call me a punk and I'll cut you" - well, yeah! And then there was that bold action of using his celebrity power for good by trying his best to fight the rising cost of record prices...posing for the cover of Rolling Stone labeled the "$8.98 Man" because he resisted the industry-wide move to raise the manufacturer's suggested retail price of an LP to $9.98. He totally held out against having his record contract sold like so much commodity when the label he was on got absorbed by a mega corporation. A punk among the mainstream.

Bottom line: I like the guy. He's done good stuff, musically and otherwise.


Anonymous said...

I remember it wasn't hip among certain scenesters to like TP & his Heartbreakers..."they're not the REAL Heartbreakers" I either heard or read at the time...

I was at that Whisky a Go Go show and just saw him recently and still think he has and always be a true standout among the mainstream rock crowd...thanks for writing about him!

Grape-Flavored Bitch said...

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