Shortly after Tom Petty rose to prominence, music videos became a crucial part of promoting the album. They were important in increasing a band’s recognition factor, so most bands embraced the music videos. Petty and the Heartbreakers embraced the form wholeheartedly. They were so successful with their videos that Petty won the Video Vanguard Award in 1994. Still, not all of them were hits. He shared the video he found most embarrassing.
Tom Petty said music videos were a necessary evil
Petty said the music videos were marketing tools and hoped they would eventually die out.
“Well, videos are a necessary evil,” he told BAM in 1997, per The small archives. “Even the videos, if you notice, I’m less and less there. I would like to see them disappear; they are essentially marketing tools. I noticed that MTV doesn’t really play a lot of videos anymore; it’s just game shows and all. My dream inside is maybe the audience will become so sophisticated, and I think they’re becoming more and more that way, that they just reject it.
Still, he said he liked making music videos.
“At that time, MTV was so product hungry that you could have three or four videos per album,” Petty said. Billboard in 2005. “Suddenly we had a lot of stuff on TV and then your recognition factor goes up on the street. Instead of being lit once a year, you are lit all day. People see you all the time, so we tried to use that to our advantage, and it was so much fun.
Tom Petty said which of his music videos he found most embarrassing
Petty explained that when they first started making music videos, he didn’t expect them to have any perseverance.
“The first ones we did were never meant to be played more than once or twice; they called them ‘promos’ at the time,” he explained. “You made them so you wouldn’t have to go on The Merv Griffin Show or a TV show you didn’t want to appear on, or couldn’t appear on. You would make a clip and send it, and they would only play it once. So imagine our horror years later when these things were repeatedly shown on television.
He pointed to the video he had the hardest time seeing again: “In fact, the one from ‘The Waiting’ is particularly embarrassing [laughs].”
In the video, the band performs on a set of paint-splattered steps in a white room decorated with primary colors.
He won the Video Vanguard Award in 1994
In the years since “The Waiting” video, Petty and the Heartbreakers have pushed the boundaries a bit more.
“When we did ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ [in 1993], I remember thinking, ‘Can we line up the stiffs in the video? Can we open on a line of corpses? Yeah! Of course we can.'”
Their video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” was so controversial it was part of the reason Tipper Gore pushed for parental warning labels on albums.
In 1994, MTV recognized the band’s commitment to exciting music videos by awarding Petty the Video Vanguard Award.
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