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Music

Tom Petty once named "the greatest rock 'n' roll record" ever made

The late Tom Petty knew the ingredients necessary to make a rock ‘n’ roll tune, and for him, there was nobody who mastered the art more than the architect of the genre himself, Little Richard.

In 2001, when Petty married his second wife, Dana Griffin, he miraculously arranged for Richard to ordain the ceremony, a moment which undoubtedly makes it the most rock ‘n’ roll wedding of all time. After drifting out of love with music, Richard found sanctity in evangelism, which led to him training as a minister.

It wasn’t just Petty who thought it would be a good idea to have Richard ordain their service, however, as Cyndi Lauper and Bruce Willis also recruited him to be at the helm for their respective ceremonies. “He did yell, ‘Shut up!’ at one point,” Petty later remembered to the Chicago Tribune. “He was really nervous, but so was I. He gave a long talk about love and its characteristics, and what it shouldn’t do. He was pretty inspirational.”

Petty also talked about Richard during an episode of his Sirius XM radio show, Buried Treasure, which began in 2005, and in total, he made 251 editions of the programme. In 2011, the Heartbreaker created a listener special, which presenter Meg Griffin hosted, and Petty made some revealing revelations during the broadcast.

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After a musical interval which included Little Richard’s track ‘Lucille’, Petty referred to the song as “the greatest rock’ n’ roll record ever made”. Unsurprisingly, the singer also couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag about his connection to Richard. Griffin was taken aback by the comments and said, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.” Petty replied, “Well, I’m pretty cool.”

The ‘Lucille’ we all adore and helped define rock ‘n’ roll as we know it was originally a ballad which Little Richard decided to leave off his debut album because he didn’t believe it was quite good enough. The following year, he revisited the song and utterly transformed it.

Richard explained his decision to MOJO in 1999: “The effects and rhythms you hear on my songs, I got ’em from the trains that passed by my house. Like ‘Lucille’ came from a train – Dadas-dada-dada-dada, I got that from the train.”

‘Lucille’ was also a staple in concerts by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, who played the track on 48 occasions throughout their career. Petty and his gang introduced the track into their sets in 1992, and it was then sporadically sprinkled in shows over the next decade before it was retired in 2001. 

Listen to the audio below of Petty stylishly taking on ‘Lucille’.