A new Tom Petty biography reveals the rocker was a heroin addict during the 1990s, but has kept it a secret until now.
Biographer Warren Zanes notes that Petty was reluctant to publicly discuss his addiction, telling The Washington Post, “The first thing [Petty] said to me on the subject is, ‘I am very concerned that talking about this is putting a bad example out there for young people. If anyone is going to think heroin is an option because they know my story of using heroin, I can’t do this.’”
“I just had to work with him and say, ‘I think you’re going to come off as a cautionary tale rather than a romantic tale,’” adds Zanes.
Asked how someone in his 40s and 50s Petty’s age at the time would become an addict, the writer explained, “He’s a rock and roller. He had had encounters with people who did heroin, and he hit a point in his life when he did not know what to do with the pain he was feeling.”
The book, Petty: A Biography, identifies one of those people as Howie Epstein, who played bass in Petty’s band The Heartbreakers and died from a heroin overdose in 2003. Zane writes, “The fact was, Petty’s drug use was partially obscured by Howie Epstein’s more dramatic decline,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
“I probably spent a month not getting out of bed, just waking up and going, ‘Oh, f***,’” Petty admits in the biography. “The only thing that stopped the pain was drugs. But it was stupid. I’d never come up against anything that was bigger than me, something that I couldn’t control. But it starts running your life…I’m lucky I came through. Not everyone does.”
Petty: The Biography arrives November 10.