Promo man extraordinaire Jon Scott has worked with The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Elton John, but he developed his closest friendship with the client he called “the future of rock ‘n’ roll,” Tom Petty. A quick decision and a hustler’s instincts helped Scott resurrect Petty’s career and put him on the road to stardom. With a new book out, Tom Petty and Me, he spoke with PKM’s Valerie Simadis.

Six weeks before our record was going to be dropped from ABC Records, Jon Scott went to radio stations with a vengeance and got our record played and on the charts. Because of that, we are forever grateful to him.”
    – Tom Petty (The Hollywood Bowl, September 25, 2017, Petty’s last concert performance)

In 1977, Jon Scott, former MCA promotion man, and national head of album promotions at ABC Records, came across an unknown album that would change his life forever. “I had to find out what was embedded in the grooves of this mysterious disc,” recalls Scott. “Why was this particular record left in the closet for me to find?” This unknown album was none other than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ self-titled debut. With a misleading cover and poor promotion plans, the album didn’t stand a chance. Or did it?

Scott, captivated by this transformative sound, was convinced that he could do the unthinkable—resurrect an eight-month-old album in only six weeks time with a zero budget. “If you could get this un-bankable, lost cause, just-another-punk-band group called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played, I’ll kiss your ass on the Sunset Strip” the Senior VP had retorted. But Scott was relentless.

I sat down with Jon Scott to discuss his early days as a promo man in Memphis, his career at ABC records and his lifelong friendship with Petty, which he documents in his new book Tom Petty and Me. If not for Jon Scott, Tom Petty’s music may have remained in that office closet for decades.

Jon Scott and Tom Petty, 1978. Photo from author’s personal collection.

PKM: First of all, your book was fantastic. I loved your tales from the road and all of the faxes that Tom sent you.

Jon Scott: Thank you! Everybody loves those faxes because it shows a side of Tom Petty that people haven’t seen and I’ve never shared those with anybody. I kept every one of them. I had bought a fax, and Tom was at my house and saw it, and then he bought one. When he tried to fax me something over and it didn’t work, I faxed him something over and called him and walked him through it. So we each started faxing each other funny stuff and then all of a sudden the Traveling Wilburys album came out and he wanted to read what the trade magazines were saying about the album.

PKM: And you became Jon Wilbury.

Jon Scott: Yeah, I became Jon Wilbury Jr., I guess. So I had this idea of…I don’t think I’ve ever known an artist to fax radio stations out of the clear blue, and so I said “Would you do it?” I gave him a hundred radio stations to fax and he said “Oh, no problem”. So he just started faxing radio stations and I’d get a phone call from most of these stations going “Hey, is that really Tom Petty or Charlie T. Wilbury that faxed me this?” I said, “That’s him” and they said, “Well do you think he’d mind if we faxed him back?” and I said, “No, fax him back, he’ll love it.” Tom thought fax machines were the greatest thing in the world. I think I mentioned in the book that we were like two Southern boys in a candy store. Just having fun, but then it turned into something serious. These radio stations just loved these faxes. I think that’s why everybody likes them so much because they’ve never seen them before. When you read them, they give you a sense as to who Tom was. Funny, witty messages…doodles. Anyway, that was real successful and in ’84 and ’85 we did Christmas I.D.s for radio stations.

PKM: After reading about the Christmas messages in your book, I knew I had to listen to them. You describe them as Howlin’ Wolf-esque, and I couldn’t begin to imagine what Tom had come up with.

Jon Scott: I’ve got a few more I’m going to put up on the website. They were all different. Tom didn’t use the same message for each radio station. He was just having fun with it. I know people who got theirs on a cassette that I sent out, and it was such a cherished thing that they put it in their safety deposit box. Just knowing that he recorded it for you…it was unlike anything else. So we did that in ’84 and ’85 and the faxes started in ’88 or ’89 right before the Wilburys came out. That’s why it says ‘The Wilburys are coming’ on one of the faxes. When the album came out, he wouldn’t call a record company to ask for a copy of a trade magazine. It just wasn’t him. So I would get them all and fax them to him. Then he would wonder why this song wasn’t a single. It just shows a side of Tom that I don’t think anybody has ever seen before.

Predictions for 1989. A fax from Tom Petty to Jon. Photo from author’s personal collection.

PKM: When did you first begin working on this book?

Jon Scott: Well, Tom died on October 2, 2017, and I couldn’t do anything because I was working on another book about my adventures in the music business (working with Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who and Elton John at MCA). I tried to start writing and I had to stop. I just couldn’t do it. It was impossible to write about anybody else except Tom. I started in December, because I didn’t want to start writing right after his death and make it look like it was a ‘grab the money and run’ thing. I wanted it out by the spring, and then my daughter got sick and she was in and out of the hospital for three months. So I kind of held off. A lot of people didn’t understand. They were on Facebook going “Where’s the book? I paid for it in January. Where’s the book?” but a lot of people did understand and they said “Jon, your family comes first. Don’t worry about the book. We’ll be here.”

That started to make me feel better, so I started writing again in April. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, to write a book, and I had a collaborator who is one of my best friends. At one point I was stuck and she called me up and said “I’m coming down there and helping you.” Her name is Mary Cunning. And then I really started rolling. Then out of the blue, Andrea Benedetto IM’d me (She’s on Tom Petty Nation on Facebook) and said “Hey, I’ve helped edit some books, and if you need help, it’s free of charge.” She drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. She started pulling stuff out of me that I hadn’t written about. Like “What about Tom during Christmas when he met Jeff Lynne?” It all started flowing after that. I probably couldn’t have written the book without these two ladies.

When we were thinking of a title for the book…a lot of people don’t believe these kind of things, but in a dream, Tom came to me and said “Call it Tom Petty and Me”. I woke up at four in the morning and went to ‘’ and typed in ‘’ and there it was. So I grabbed the domain and thought “Well I’m just gonna start writing. 4/20 was my original release date, because Tom would have appreciated it, but then I got behind with my daughter, so it ended up being released on Tom’s birthday, which was perfect timing.

PKM: Before you became a promo man, you were a DJ at an FM radio station in Memphis. Tell me about the first time you heard Tom’s band Mudcrutch?

Jon Scott: In 1965, I heard “Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man” by The Rolling Stones. I didn’t even know what it was but I thought “Boy, that sounds like a cool job.”

We were a very powerful FM station that had 400,000 watts of power. The limit now is 100,000 watts, but the station was grandfathered in back in 1947. So I went to radio school, got the job in my hometown and we started playing anything we wanted to play. I loved it because people started listening to FM radio. At the time, there was nothing on FM radio that a kid would listen to. The stations played easy listening music like Roger Williams. I remember my father saying “Rock music won’t work on an FM radio station, and besides, that’s my station! You’re taking away my station. It’ll never work.” So I became a DJ and when these promotion guys started hanging around, I got to be friends with them. They had more money than me and they had expense accounts. One of them offered me a job, because he thought I had a good ear for music, so I became the local MCA promotion man. It was Little Rock, Memphis and Nashville.

My first week on the job, they sent me a cassette of all the new stuff that was out. I was driving Olivia Newton John to Nashville and put the cassette in and we started listening and ‘Depot Street’ came on. I was like “Wow, that’s a pretty cool song” and she said “Yeah, that’s a good song. Who is it?” I looked and I said “Umm…Mudcrutch?” I went to an FM radio station in Nashville and played it for them and they said “Yeah, that’s a good song! We’ll add that record.” I called my boss and I said “Hey, I got my first add, Mudcrutch, ‘Depot Street’!” He said, “Jon, it’s only a single, there’s no album, it’s on Shelter Records. Go work Olivia Newton John’s record, okay? Forget about them.” And I did. I forgot about them. Didn’t have any idea who Mudcrutch was, didn’t care at the time. I just liked the song.

In later years when Tom invited me over to his house, I said “Hey, you been in any other bands?” He said “Yeah, you’ve never heard of us. We were called Mudcrutch.” I went “Holy crap! ‘Depot Street’!” He said, “How in the hell do you know ‘Depot Street’?” I said, “It’s a long story, Tom.” I think we looked at each other for 30 seconds and didn’t say any words. I was sitting there, looking at the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who I thought was the future of rock ‘n’ roll, and I was also looking at the lead singer of Mudcrutch. In my mind, it was just meant to be.

PKM: Tell me about your time working at MCA in Los Angeles.

Jon Scott: At MCA, I was having the time of my life because I was transferred out to Los Angeles because I was doing pretty well. Well, first of all, in Nashville I got transferred to be regional promotion man, and that lasted about two months. Then they transferred me to Los Angeles because the guy got fired out there. So I get to go to Los Angeles, working in this black ten-story building on the Universal Studios lot and I’m having the time of my life. My buddy and I would go to lunch every day, and we’d go out on the back lot of Universal Studios and just walk around. We’d see movie stars like Rock Hudson and Doris Day. It was like a dream.

I was doing pretty well, and one day the president of the MCA held a meeting with about 30 people in the room. At the end, he said “Anybody heard this Johnny Cougar record?” I was the only one who raised my hand. He said, “What song do you like?” and I said ‘Chestnut Street’, it’s really good.” So he put it on, and about 30 seconds into it, he tossed it aside and said “Who the hell would play a song by a kid named Johnny Cougar? Stupidest name I ever heard in my life. Who signed this guy?” The A&R guy held his hand up and he said “Why did you sign this kid?” He said, “Well, there are a couple of demos that I’ve heard, and also his manager is Tony Defries, who’s the manager of David Bowie.” I think Bowie had just fired him, but when I heard that he managed Bowie, I was like “Shit. We did an interview with him in 1972. We knew so much about him because we were fans. The A&R guy pulled me aside and said, “Do you really like this kid?” I said “Yeah, I love this kid.” There was something about him. I couldn’t place it, but something just clicked. So he sent me to Seymour, Indiana. There was a parade going on, it was Johnny Cougar day in Seymour, Indiana. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because I was there?

Tom Petty's first album
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ first self-titled album. Tom’s leather jacket and the bullets around his neck gave DJs and promo men the impression that Tom’s band was a punk group. It just goes to show, you can’t judge an album by it’s cover.

No one had ever seen me before. I got there and I felt like I was kind of incognito and a guy comes up to me and says “Are you the MCA guy? I got you a seat.” I was planning on sitting in the back, that way in case it was terrible I could leave. So he escorts me down to the front row right underneath Johnny Cougar’s microphone. The lights went down, a spotlight came on and there was a girl playing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on a harp. And I was like “Okaaay.” Then he came out and there was a gigantic neon sign that said “Johnny Cougar.” He came out by himself and he played the song I liked ‘Chestnut Street Revisited’, and was staring at me like “What do you think now, buddy? What do you think now, Mister MCA guy?” And it blew me away. Then his band came out and they just kicked my butt. They were so good. I called the guys at MCA and said, “He’s a superstar!” And they were like “John? What have you been smoking?” Anyway, I got fired because I wouldn’t stop.

PKM: That was what I was going to ask you. Was there a particular incident that led you to getting fired from MCA?

Jon Scott: They told me I was working too much on Johnny Cougar, but I wouldn’t say it was obvious that they were going to fire me. What I did to promote him was…well the first thing I did was rent a cougar, and we went around every radio station in Los Angeles and Tower Records and took pictures. We had two girls, one wearing a shirt that said “Johnny” and another that said “Cougar” and people thought we were nuts. We made the trade magazines, which was promising. The people at MCA were telling me to stop, but I had this light in my head that this station in Cleveland WMMS loved David Bowie just like I did. So I went to Cleveland and they laughed at me! They wouldn’t even listen to it because he was called Johnny Cougar.

“Alright, Tom Petty. My name is Jon Scott, and don’t you ever forget who I am. ‘Cause every time you hear your record on the radio, you’re gonna think of me.”

I said, “I’m just gonna stay here until you add the record”, and he started laughing. So every morning, noon and night, I’d show up to the station with a Johnny Cougar record. I stayed there seven days and they finally added the record and said “Just go home. We’re tired of seeing your face.” I flew home, elated that one of the biggest radio stations in America had added their record and they didn’t care. The president of MCA told me to stop plugging the record. I said “I can’t! One of the biggest stations in America was playing it!” And he said, “I don’t care. We don’t like this kid, we don’t like his music, and at his first meeting here in Los Angeles, he told one of the Vice Presidents to go fuck himself. So we don’t like this kid at all.” I said “You can’t stop me!” And he said, “Yes I can, you’re fired.” I walked out of the building like “What the hell just happened?”

PKM: Soon after, Senior VP of promotion Charlie Minor gets you a job as national head of album promotions for ABC Records. You said you first came across Tom Petty’s album in some sort of a closet?

Jon Scott: The best I can remember is that I was getting my jacket to go to lunch, and this album fell down. It was a white album with nothing on it. I picked it up and it said 10/76, so I assumed it came out in October of 1976. I pulled the album out and there was nothing written on the vinyl. Zero information. Something said that I should sit down and listen to the album. So I did, and the first song ‘Rockin’ Around (With You)’ came on and I was like “Holy crap. This is good. Short, rockin’. Then I heard ‘Breakdown’ and I was like “Jesus Christ! Who are these guys?” The hairs on my arm were standing up, and I closed the door and put my headphones on. I thought “Oh my god. These guys are the future of rock ‘n’ roll.” That’s when I went to my boss Charlie Minor and said, “Who are these guys?” He put the record on and said, “Oh, they’re some punk band called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.” I said “Punk band?” I just couldn’t believe he was saying that because there was no way in my mind that that was a punk record until he pulled the album cover down. He said “Look at this guy. He’s got long stringy blonde hair, bullets around his neck and a black leather jacket on.” At that point I didn’t care what he had on because I had heard the music by accident. So I said, “I don’t have anything to do right now. I have a month or so before any albums come out that I have to work. Let me try to get this played.” He said “John, it’s been out for eight months. It’s a punk band. Radio stations are telling us it’s a punk band. We sold 12,000 copies in eight months and we spend way too much money promoting it.” They were buying ads in teen magazines and punk magazines.

“Breakdown” from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ debut album:

PKM: So it was poorly promoted.

Jon Scott: Poorly. There were a few guys who worked for radio stations in Boston and San Francisco that were getting a reaction, and they thought he was incredible, so I started calling my radio friends and the majority of them said, “Never heard of them. We threw that album out because it was a punk band.” The cover was throwing everybody off. Most radio stations didn’t even listen to it.

PKM: How did you convince Charlie that this album was worth promoting? You mention that he was warning you not to do the ‘Johnny Cougar thing’.

Jon Scott: I literally got down on my knees and begged him. Give me six weeks. What do you have to lose. He said “Alright. I’ll give you six weeks. You can’t spend a dime on this guy. No ads on the radio, no nothing. Good luck.” I ran back to my office and started calling people. This was how I found out that most people didn’t even have a copy of the album. So my assistant and I sent out 100 copies of the album and then that’s when fate stepped in, because this good friend of mine, Charlie Kendall, was trying to start a new radio station in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, every morning Charlie Minor would go past my office and go “Tick tock tick tock, the clock is ticking!”, and I just ignored him.

When Charlie Kendall heard the record and freaked out like I did, I knew I was onto something because Charlie had a great ear for music, and he was a seasoned radio veteran. That’s when everything started kicking in. He asked me if they were any good live, and I said I had no idea. That’s when I found out that they were opening for Blondie at the Whiskey. I said do you wanna go to it? And he said, “Hell yeah”.

A sold out Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers show at The Whisky a Go Go. Photo from author’s personal collection.

PKM: What was your first encounter with Tom Petty like? I know it wasn’t quite what you expected it to be.

Jon Scott: No. Well, they were supposed to come on at 7:00 and nobody knew who this guy was. Tom played one song. I think it was ‘Oh Carol’ by Chuck Berry, and Charlie and I just looked at each other like “Damn!” Then he pulls out his Flying V and the third song in was ‘Breakdown’. Charlie turned to me and said “Jon, I’m gonna play this record once an hour every hour. This band is incredible!” As a promotion man, when you’ve got an ad in your pocket, you kind of get excited. So I said, “I’m gonna meet this guy and tell him who I am!” When we got backstage, Tom was wiping the sweat off his face with a towel and I said, “Hey Tom, I’m Jon Scott the new ABC guy.” And he said, “I don’t care who you are. I don’t give a shit.” Then the guys in the band started laughing. Stan Lynch, the drummer, informed me that ABC stood for ‘A Bunch of Cocksuckers’.

Anyway, I asked him if he’d heard his record on the radio in Los Angeles and he said “No, why?” and I said “Because you’ll be on the air Monday morning. We just got a station.” Tom went “Bullshit. Another ABC nut job. Get outta here!” Then Tom’s roadie Alan “Bugs” Weidel, told us we had to get out of there. As we headed out, I turned around to look at Tom and I said “Tom? I’m gonna break your career wide open.” And he said, “Yeah, bullshit. Outta here!” I didn’t stop. I just pointed my finger at him and said, “Alright, Tom Petty. My name is Jon Scott, and don’t you ever forget who I am. ‘Cause every time you hear your record on the radio, you’re gonna think of me.” And Tom said, “Yeah right!” Charlie and I went out the door laughing, going “This guy has no idea what’s about to happen.” Charlie and I knew that this band was going to be the future of rock ‘n’ roll. We just knew it.

PKM: During this time, you mentioned that Tom and his manager Tony Dimitriades thought you were making false promises. How did you gain their trust?

Jon Scott: I started getting the record played. Tony called me on August 12, 1977 and demanded “Who are you? You pissed off my artist! Why would you tell him that? You know it’s not gonna happen.” And I said, “Because I’m gonna do it”. So he arranged to meet up with me. Meanwhile, two days later, Tower Records was calling Charlie asking him the name of the band that he was playing on his station. They ordered 250 or 500 copies of his album, and ABC couldn’t believe that this was happening. I gained their trust because Tom finally called me. My assistant said, “Oh, Tom Petty’s on the phone” and I’m going “Oh boy, he’s gonna tear me apart again.” He just went “Jon…(in that Southern drawl) this is Tom Petty and my friends are tellin’ me they’re hearin’ the record on the radio like you said. Are you serious?” I said “Tom, I’m gonna break your career wide open.” Tom said, “Will you come over my house tonight?” I wrote the address down and flew over there.

we’d go out on the back lot of Universal Studios and just walk around. We’d see movie stars like Rock Hudson and Doris Day. It was like a dream.

When I went over to his house it was an entirely different feeling. I think he had a Confederate flag on the wall. Now of course, I think he would have regretted all of that stuff. He knew I was from the South and he asked me where I was from. I said Memphis. I was actually born in Florida. I’m a tried-and-true Memphian, but my dad was in the service and my mom went down to Fort Myers in Florida to stay with my grandmother and I was born Jun 29, 1945 in Fort Myers. Then my mom flew back to Memphis a few weeks later, and that’s where I was raised. I told him that and he’s looking at me again like “You were born in Florida? Well I was too.” Okay…well, this is getting crazier. Then we went outside and he was like “Do you like to smoke pot?” And I said, “Yeah, sure.” So we went outside, smoked a joint and he started quizzing me about things. I didn’t say anything about Johnny Cougar because he would think I was definitely nuts. So I just said “I was head of album promotions at MCA and Charlie Minor called me up and wanted to hire me, so I left.” I finally told him about Johnny Cougar about a year later. John Mellencamp had called me and said “Hey, will you introduce me to Tom on the phone?” and Tom said “Okay, I’ll talk to him.” I think it was a three-way call. Johnny said “Tom, I’ve got my band all here and they wanna leave me because my career’s not happening.” Tom told the band “Don’t ever give up on this kid. Stay with Johnny Cougar.” And they stayed.

That night, he gained my trust and as I walked out the door, I repeated what I had said at the Whisky, and he kind of shook his head and went “Okay, okay.” He wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. Nobody did. Sometimes people ask me ,“What would have happened if you hadn’t picked that record up?” And I say “I don’t know”. He would have been signed by another label, possibly. He could have broken up the band, possibly. He could have gone solo, possibly. Nobody knows what would have happened in the United States.

PKM: During this time, promo men typically went on the road with the artist(s) that they were promoting. What was it like touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers?

Jon Scott: I remember driving to Santa Cruz to see him for the second time and they did six encores in this little gym and it was packed. After six encores, they finally stopped. I think Tom played every song he knew, and that’s when I said “This is the future of rock music” and still to this day, I think they’re the most iconic American rock band there is. Bruce [Springsteen] is great, I love Bruce, but as a band, nobody could beat Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. So then I started going on the road with them and I was having the time of my life. I mean hearing these guys talk…I was seeing history every night. Every night the concerts got better than the one before. Tom used to say “I want every concert to be better than the last one, and I want every song I write to be better than the last one.” I would go on the bus or be backstage or out in the crowd and I just couldn’t believe it. How did people miss it? The breaking point was when we did the live broadcast at Capitol Records.

That was really the turning point, where Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recorded a live version of ‘Breakdown”. I took that version, put it on a reel-to-reel tape and sent it to one hundred stations. All of a sudden FM stations started playing the live version of ‘Breakdown’. This came about because Bonnie Simmons from KSAN said, “I’ve been playing this song [‘Breakdown’] to death. You’ve gotta give me something new.” So I went to Tom and said “Tom, you’ve got to do the most kick ass version of ‘Breakdown’ you’ve ever done in your lives.” Denny Cordell the president of Shelter Records was the producer and engineer on it, and the sound was incredible. After that, everybody jumped on the bandwagon. All of a sudden other bands were opening for him.

PKM: In 1989, Tom Petty temporarily hit a roadblock because MCA heard Full Moon Fever and decided there weren’t any hits on the album. What did it take to prove them wrong?

Jon Scott: I wasn’t working for MCA at the time, I was working as an independent promotion guy. Tom had me over and I said “This is one of the best albums you’ve ever done, just like you said.” And Tony said “Well, there’s a problem, Jon. MCA wants us to go back in the studio to record more tracks because they don’t think there are any hits on the album.” My jaw dropped. What are you talking about? ‘Free Fallin’? ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’? That’s when I called my buddy up at MCA and asked him to come over to Tom’s house the following night. He was flipped out to meet Tom, but his reaction to the record was exactly like mine. That’s when he told me he was going to take care of this. This guy, John Hey, was kind of a maniac. At the next meeting at MCA, he got up on the conference table and started jumping up and down. He was crazy. I think he said, “Who the fuck thinks there aren’t any hits on Full Moon Fever? They’re out of their minds. This record is incredible!” The record came out a few weeks later.

PKM: You mention in your book that Tom Petty held a listening party in his house to promote one of his albums. That would be unheard of in this day and age.

Jon Scott: Oh, nobody would do it. I mean, there’s a lot of things that happened back then that you can’t do today. I’ll never forget that night at Tom’s. He was so happy, and he was nervous at the same time having people in his house, but that’s kind of where he was back then. I could call him and say ,“Tom, wanna go over here to this station?” and he’d say “Yeah sure, let’s go.” That was one of the best moments in the world because we had forty to fifty of the biggest radio station representatives sitting in his house on the floor, passing joints and probably other things. But people sat and listened intently. I remember after the end of side two, people stood up and must have applauded for two minutes. Tom was walking back and forth behind everybody, kind of pacing the floor as the record was playing. I just remember him handing people a glass of Cristal champagne as they walked in. You’re right, I don’t think any artist would do that today.

PKM: In this book you focus on your adventures with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Would you consider writing a detailed autobiography in the future?

A fax from Tom Petty to Jon. Photo from author’s personal collection.

Jon Scott: Absolutely. Most of the stories are pretty well written. I just couldn’t finish them. Hearing about Tom Petty’s death, I was shocked like everyone else. We had an agent in New York, and a few offers, but we passed on every one of them. They weren’t offering much money and they wanted movie rights and TV rights, so I decided to self-publish the book. It’s interesting because now orders come in, I do the signing, I put them in an envelope, and I bring them to the post office. I’m the writer, the publisher, and the guy who takes the packages to the post office, but I would do it again. The stories are so good.

PKM: Especially your stories about touring with The Who.

Jon Scott: Oh yeah. With Keith Moon, are you kidding me? I mean, they all traveled in separate limos because they all hated each other. I mean not hate, but they didn’t want to be in a limo with Keith Moon. I’d love to write another book, but it’s really tough, especially on those days where you wake up and just stare at the computer because nothing is coming to you. Other days I would be grabbing paper and writing down all the stories that were coming to me. Like I said, I want to write another book because these stories have got to be told. I mean, Lynyrd Skynyrd was opening for The Who, and Lynyrd Skynyrd were nuts. They were just crazy rednecks. They would fight each other at the drop of a hat. I’ll never forget them opening for The Who and ‘Free Bird’ was the last song. Usually the opening bands don’t get encores, and these guys would come back and just kill. The Who had to wait an hour afterwards because people were wanting Lynyrd Skynyrd.

PKM: The Who must have been pissed off.

Jon Scott: They were, but how can you follow ‘Free Bird’? It’s just impossible.

Like I said, I’m not in this to make money. I just want these stories published so that my grandkids can read them. Just like with Tom Petty. I think he wanted these stories to be told.

PKM: You mentioned that when you saw Tom Petty perform at his last concert, the band usually walked off the stage together, but on this night he remained on the stage by himself. Do you think that Tom had a premonition that this would be his final performance?

Jon Scott: Well, yes and no, because this was the last stop of the tour. I don’t think so, but I’d just never seen that happen before. Tom was usually the first one to walk off and he’d head right to the limo to go home because he didn’t like being around people who wanted his autograph at that point in his career. He was the first one off, and he was home by the time you were filing out of the Hollywood Bowl. But that night it was bizarre. I’d never seen him surf around and throw some guitar picks. I mean, he was shaking people’s hands. I’d never seen him do that. I still don’t understand why he didn’t get his hip fixed right away, but that’s not for me to understand.

“There was no one out there like this band. Someone once told me that every song Tom wrote made you feel like he was singing it for you.”


“Runnin’ Down A Dream” from Full Moon Fever:

To purchase Jon Scott’s book ‘Tom Petty and Me’, please visit the website below:

For more Tom Petty video and audio clips, check out Jon Scott’s Youtube channel: