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PETTY PROMO MAN JON SCOTT WOULDN’T BACK DOWN

When Jon Scott tried to introduce himself to Tom Petty after a Heartbreakers show at the Whisky back in 1976, Petty kicked the ABC Records promo rep out of the dressing room. Scott describes the exchange with Craig Rosen in a terrific story posted on Yahoo Music: “I introduced myself to Tom, and he said, ‘I don’t care who you are. We hate your label.’ Stan Lynch, the drummer, yelled out, ‘You know what ABC stands for? A bunch of… It starts with a ‘C.’”

What Petty subsequently learned was that Scott had undertaken a one-man crusade to get “Breakdown,” the band’s first single, on the radio, and he pulled it off: “Breakdown” cracked the Top 40 nearly two years after the release of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the band's debut album. Thus began a friendship spanning four decades. And during what would be his final show, 9/25 at the Hollywood Bowl, Petty paused the show to give a shout-out to his onetime promo man.

“Six weeks before our first record was dropped by ABC Records, he went to the radio stations with a vengeance and brought that sucker onto the charts,” Petty said from the stage. “And it wasn’t easy. We’re forever grateful. We’re going to dedicate this to him tonight.” Petty and the Heartbreakers then appropriately tore into “I Won’t Back Down.”

As Rosen points out, it’s not an exaggeration to say that without Scott’s efforts, we may never have heard of Tom Petty. You have to read this story.

 

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