Tom Petty, L.A. or Florida? “The Heartbreakers formed here. We really are an L.A. band”

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While spending an afternoon with Tom Petty at his Malibu beach house for Friday’s feature on him, I couldn’t resist asking whether he considered himself and the Heartbreakers more part of the history of L.A. rock or that of Florida, where most members of that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band grew up. Yesterday I floated the question to our readership, and now I offer Petty’s response.

“We loved L.A.,” Petty said about the band’s move across the country in the mid-‘70s. “We wanted to come here because so many of the artists we admired came from here, especially the Byrds and the [Buffalo] Springfield and the Doors, and the Beach Boys — we’re huge Beach Boys fans. …Plus Bernie Leadon had come and Tom Leadon had come, and they’d both found success. They were both making records, and I just followed their trail really.


“I often see us included in Southern [rock]. But honestly, when the Southern rock thing happened, we were long gone for the most part,” he said. “I think we’re really Californians. I’ve been in California longer than I was in Florida. Certainly where you grow up is always going to be deeply embedded in your soul. I don’t know, but sometimes it kind of hurts my feelings that were not included in discussions of Southern California music. The Heartbreakers formed here. We really are an L.A. band.”

-- Randy Lewis

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