Wichita one of 9 U.S. stops for Tom Petty

04/18/2012 5:00 AM

04/18/2012 2:06 PM

Tom Petty is a man of few words.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician took to Twitter for a news conference about his upcoming tour — which has only nine dates in the United States and includes Wichita. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers perform Thursday at Intrust Bank Arena. Singer Regina Spektor, a Russian-born singer/songwriter/pianist from New York City, is the opening act.

During the conversation, Petty told reporters that his favorite sandwich is peanut butter and jelly. He misses Roy Orbison’s laugh. And “Woolly Bully” was the first song he learned.

But then he got serious about talking about his tour and looking forward to performing.

With a catalog of music spanning to 1976, Petty admits it’s difficult to strike the right balance with his set list.

“Yes, it’s tough,” he said. “There are so many songs that I would love to play, but decisions have to be made.”

Petty’s — along with his band, The Heartbreakers — most recent album is 2010’s “MOJO.” The album was recorded in a room with each member of the band singing and playing at the same time. Petty said the music was recorded with no overdubs or studio trickery.

“With this album, I want to show other people what I hear with the band,” he said. “ ‘MOJO’ is where the band lives when it’s playing for itself.”

As for the songs, Petty said he drew from influences such as rock ’n’ roll, country and blues.

“When I write, it’s usually not forced,” he said of his style. “A lot of the songs just come to me.”

Petty has had a career that many musicians would dream of, which is a long way from where he grew up in Gainesville, Fla. He became interested in rock music when he was 10 years old and met Elvis Presley. At the time, Presley was working with his uncle on the set of the movie “Follow That Dream.”

“I was hooked at that point,” he said. “Then I realized I wanted to be in a band when I saw The Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ It’s been nonstop work ever since.”

Aside from being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s also a Grammy winner, has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and been in two other bands — The Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch.

But through it all, Petty remains humble, yet funny.

When asked about what his favorite thing about his long and prolific career is, he simply stated, “the money.”

Contributing: Eagle staff

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