One voice who’s been notably absent from the mourning over Tom Petty is Stevie Nicks, a close friend and collaborator on hits such as “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
In a brief interview with Rolling Stone, Nick saluted Petty for his empathy towards women that allowed them to be successful musical partners: “He had two daughters. He had two amazing loves (wives Jane and Dana). He was surrounded be really strong women. The women around him pretty much went their own way, and he was good with that. He gave me a lot of advice about stuff. He was the kind of person who said, ‘Here’s my advice. If you take it, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too.’ He was never going to shake a finger in your face and make you feel bad if you didn’t take his advice.”
Nicks recalled some of that advice, from 1994, when Nicks had just come out of rehab and was “shaken” by a visit with a former boyfriend. She called Petty to help her write a song and recalled that “He said, ‘No. You are one of the premiere songwriters of all time. You don’t need me to write a song for you.’ He just said, ‘Just to go your piano and write a good song. You can do that.'”
The song, “Hard Advice,” appeared on Nick’s 2014 collection Songs From The Vault and includes the line “Sometimes he’s my best friend” that referred to Petty. “It was really, ‘Sometimes Tom’s my best friend.’ I changed it because I knew Tom would not want me to say his name. That’s how well I know him,” Nicks said.
Nicks last saw Petty during July, when she opened for he and the Heartbreakers in London’s Hyde Park, where she also joined the band on stage.
A private funeral and a larger but still private memorial are reportedly taking place today in Los Angeles. Petty died on October 2 at the age of 66 after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.