Less than 48 hours after capping the 40th anniversary tour with the finale at the Bowl, Petty spoke to The Times at his home in Malibu, about the band’s long journey together and what most resonated with him four decades down the line.
“The thing about the Heartbreakers is: It’s still holy to me,” Petty said. “There’s a holiness there. If that were to go away, I don’t think I would be interested in it, and I don’t think they would be. We’re a real rock ’n’ roll band — always have been. And to us, in the era we came up in, it was a religion in a way. It was more than commerce — it wasn’t about that.
“It was about something much greater: It was about moving people, and changing the world, and I really believed in rock ’n’ roll. I still do. I believed in it in its purest sense, its purest form. And I watched it commit suicide; I watched it really kill itself over money. That was painful, and I saw that coming, a long time before it happened. I wasn’t surprised in the least. I could see what they were doing wrong.
“But I think we still feel we’re on a mission for good. I’m so touched by … this year has been a wonderful year for us,” he said, adding with a laugh, “This has been that big slap on the back we never got. And it’s really felt good.”