By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
9. The Alley.The Alley is a North Hollywood rehearsal studio where Mudcrutch met in the early days. A Mudcrutch-era song, "Don't Do Me Like That," was recorded there for Damn the Torpedoes. The phrase "don't do me like that" came from Petty's dad; Petty always thought it sounded funny and Southern. This is pretty much the nicest thing he ever said about his abusive father, who disrespected his son's musical talents until he was famous. Then Petty bought him a Cadillac. 5066 Lankershim Blvd.
10. Village Recorder. Shelter dropped Mudcrutch but kept Petty for a solo deal, leaving his Florida mates in the lurch. Mudcrutch keyboardist Benmont Tench put together a new band and began rehearsing them at the Village Recorder. Petty came in one day to play harmonica and heard Tench playing keys with Mike Campbell (guitar), Ron Blair (bass), Stan Lynch (drums) and Randall Marsh (drums), and thought, "I have to steal this band." And he did, calling them the Heartbreakers. 1616 Butler Ave.
11. London, U.K., in the late '70s, during the new wave. While the band's self-titled first album was "stillborn" upon U.S. release in 1976, it was an enormous success immediately in the U.K. "From the moment we got off the plane, there were journalists to meet us, photographers taking our photos. This was big time for us." (RDAD) Petty's short power-pop songs, tight jeans and skinny shirts lent him a new-wave air, and his androgynous look remained remarkably similar throughout his career. The band returned to L.A. and went back to taking out their trash, waiting for the break.
12. Whisky A Go Go. The Whisky was the site of TP and the Heartbreakers' first string of successful L.A. shows. Petty credits Robert Hilburn of the L.A. Times with changing the city's attitude about the band. "He'd actually written about the album prior to that and given it a so-so review. Then he wrote a second one saying that he was wrong, that our record is actually really great. Then he did an interview with me, a nice piece. That got us a weeklong stand at the Whisky." (RDAD) 8901 Sunset Blvd.
13. Sound City. In 1978, Petty moved to Sound City studios to make a "big" sounding album, Damn the Torpedoes, with Jimmy Iovine as producer. The drums on "Refugee"— huge, booming, radio friendly — have become a studio a/b mixing standard and one of the many points of contention about the band's work with Iovine. Iovine has stated that he hates all drummers but really, really didn't like the Heartbreakers' Stan Lynch. 1391 Westwood Ave.
14. MCA Records. Petty's hatred of the record industry started with a bad faith gesture by MCA in 1978. The band was signed to Shelter Records but distributed by ABC, and when ABC sold the band's contract to MCA, Petty wanted out. The legal battle that followed was a "Mexican standoff" for six months, including a California tour where the band wore shirts reading "Why MCA?" Eventually they got their own label, Backstreet Records, and regained their publishing rights. Later, MCA used the band to raise the general LP price by a dollar, prompting Petty to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone ripping one up.
15. Century City. From the song "Century City." During the recording of Damn the Torpedoes, Petty hid his master tapes from MCA Records by night and fought the label's lawyers in Century City by day. He had few kind things to say about the place. "It's kind of an acre of skyscrapers, a really modern-looking place. It's full of lawyers. And they take you up to big glass conference rooms — I dreaded going there." (CWTP)
16. "FM radio" and "The freeway." Radioland is a palpable place in Tom Petty's L.A. — a place of good times, a place in the past. "American Girl" broke on KROQ as part of L.A.'s new wave. Petty played in the little-known 1978 film FM, about a fictional renegade L.A. station, Q-Sky, and he fondly remembers sitting in his den tuning in multiple stations playing his hits during the '80s. Elvis Costello admits to stealing a hook from Petty for his own "Radio, Radio," and this spirit of the radio past features prominently in Petty's own songs, not to mention his 2002 concept album The Last DJ. Petty now has his own station on XM, called Buried Treasure.
17. Cello Studios. Petty recorded parts of The Last DJ at this studio. A morality play about the music business, the album focused on Petty's nostalgia for radio and the record industry's past. Ironically, Petty has felt this way about the industry since the 1970s but is probably one of its biggest remaining sure things. 6000 Sunset Blvd.
18. The Smog. Alongside the intangible/in-between places of the highway and the radio, Tom Petty's L.A. is full of sky, and that sky is full of 1980s smog — something to be cynical about for sure, but Petty has a Floridian's love of the L.A. sunset, which the smog only makes better. On "All or Nothin'" (from 1991's Into the Great Wide Open) he sings, "Sweet chariots of L.A. swing low/At twilight time the smog makes a rainbow."