Trump Plays Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at His Tulsa Rally — Petty’s Family Isn’t So Thrilled

Petty family
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Petty family
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Photo Credit: musicisentropy / CC by 2.0

Trump played Tom Petty’s hit, ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at his ill-attended Tulsa rally. The Petty family says the use was “in no way authorized.”

The Petty family took to Twitter over the weekend to release a statement shortly after the Trump rally. “Trump was in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” the statement reads (here’s a full rundown of the songs played at Sunday’s Trump rally).

“Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind,” the statement continues. “Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”

Tom Petty died of a drug overdose in 2017, aged 66. The rocker frequently cited his song, ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ saying it had the most powerful impact on his fans.

It was first released in 1989 on his solo album, Full Moon Fever. Petty says the song often inspired fans to send him messages about how it inspired them during hard times. “He told me that he heard, or read somewhere, that it brought a girl out of a coma,” his widow told NPR in 2019. “It was her favorite song, and they played it, and she came out of a coma, which blew his mind.”

The Petty family insists that the song is written for the underdog, “for the common man and everyone. We believe in America, and we believe in democracy,” the Petty family continues. “But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either. We would hate for fans marginalized by this administration to think we are complicit in this usage.”

After the Petty family tweeted their message, several members of the band echoed the sentiment.

Benmont Tench III retweeted the Petty family’s statement, adding “Second. Absolutely. I, in no way, approve of Trump even whistling any piece of music associated with our band. I hope that’s clear enough.”

Others were less conciliatory. Immediately after the statement, a number of critics posted images of Tom Petty flanked by massive Confederate flags at various shows. Of course, Tom Petty isn’t here to defend those stage designs, though the hypocrisy was widely noted. Just recently, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at all of its events.

Petty family statement
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4 Responses

  1. JS Bach

    It’s their opinion. They have a right to sue now.

  2. restless94110

    This is fake news. No one cares what some untalented “member” of Tom Petty’s family cares about anything.

    • JS Bach

      Benmont Tench, untalented? You’ve got some rethinking to do.

    • Just me

      Apparently YOU know nothing about Tom Petty!! He has always made it clear that his music had nothing to do with garbage like politics, tv commericials,etc! He was about the music, the fans, the people, fairness & so much more! To indicate Bentmont is untalented shows your stupidity of music & common sense!! All of Toms beloved fans know that if he were here he would consider it an outrage & I think he would be proud that his family, band mates & friends have echoed his belief! If Tom were here he would not back down from making his feelings & his rights known just like his family has for him & his memory & his music!! I respect the Petty Family & their wishes & Toms & you should too! Tom Petty will forever be loved & respect for all eternity but you sure won’t be!! Millions of people care about Tom & the Petty family & the Heartbreakers!! What we don’t care about is idiots like you!!