Benmont Tench Explains Why Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Never Returned To Australia After the Dylan Tour of the 80s - Noise11.com
Tom Petty Somewhere You Feel Free

Benmont Tench Explains Why Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Never Returned To Australia After the Dylan Tour of the 80s

by Paul Cashmere on October 18, 2021

in News

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers only tour Australia twice, once in 1980 and then again in 1986 with Bob Dylan.

Heartbreakers co-founder Benmont Tench tells Noise11.com that we never really understood way Petty never brought the band back to Australia but we have out theories.

“It’s one of my greatest regrets too,” Benmont tells Noise11.com. (I kept saying it was 1987 in the interview. It was actually 1986) “I always wanted to come back. In ’86 it was with (Bob) Dylan. We played Australia by ourselves I think in 1980. It was a magnificent time and when we played with Dylan it was a magnificent time. I know that Tom for some reason, he loved Australia but he didn’t love the voyage from America to Australia. I think we almost had him talked into it … but now we can’t.”

Just before Tom Petty died in 2017 Australian promoters were indeed negotiating a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Australian tour. “You have to realise that we didn’t play Europe , a proper Europeans tour, from 1992 until 2012,” Benmont said. “We played a couple of dates in Germany and a couple of dates in England. It was insane. I don’t know why he wouldn’t go back. Finally, he went to Europe in 2012 and had the best time. We were going to follow that up again. It would have been just a hop, skip and jump to go ‘hey Tom, what about Australia’”.

Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers is about to screen in cinemas worldwide on Wednesday October 20. The date marks Petty’s 71st birthday. Watch the Noise11 interview.

Benmont said that Australia wasn’t the only country to miss Heartbreakers tour. They didn’t go to Japan either. “I am devastated. I was very frustrated, like ‘why don’t we go to Australia, why don’t we go to Japan’. It was 20 years before we did another real European tour. I don’t know what it was but my theory was he wanted to be able to smoke on an aeroplane and you couldn’t smoke and the flight was too long”.
One other theory was Tom refused to come back to Australia after Stevie Nicks was treated so badly by the Musicians Union after she appeared on stage in Sydney with Dylan, Petty and the Heartbreakers without a working visa. “That sounds like Tom but I’m sure that’s not why. I am sure he wouldn’t be that mad. Why? It wasn’t Australia, it was the Union”.

Nicks appearance with Dylan and Petty at that Sydney show was a surprise for fans. “She came down to Australia with us,” Benmont says. “Tom’s house had just burnt down. Stevie was a good friend of Tom’s and mine. We were going to Australia and Stevie came along for support and also to have a good time. She wanted to come out and play tambourine on ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. If you are in the audience and there is Bob Dylan with Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks comes out? And the Union is mad about that? I understand they said if you appear on stage again during this tour Fleetwood Mac would not be allowed to return to Australia. But I don’t think that’s why Tom didn’t come back”.

“It was just a real pity we didn’t come back. The lost opportunities we lost because we didn’t travel much. But especially now that he’s gone … he didn’t want to do long tours anymore but he did want to do stuff that was different and counted. What would be more different and count more than travel to Australia and play Australia for the first time since 1987?”

Trafalgar Releasing are presenting Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers in cinemas around the world on 20 October. Check here for cinema details in your country.

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