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Tom Petty’s family files cease-and-desist after Trump plays ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at rally

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1989 smash hit 'I Won't Back Down'

Tom Petty‘s family has issued a cease-and-desist notice to Donald Trump after the late rocker’s 1989 hit I Won’t Back Down played during the U.S. president’s poorly-attended rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday.

“Trump was in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” Petty’s daughters Adria and Annakim Petty, his widow Dana York, and ex-wife Jane Petty, wrote in a joint statement shared to the official Tom Petty Twitter account that evening.

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

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Of the Billboard No. 1 Mainstream Rock track — which also featured George Harrison of the Beatles and Jeff Lynne of ELO — the Petty family noted that the musician wrote the song for “the underdog, the common man and for everyone.”

READ MORE: K-pop fans, TikTok users claim they sabotaged Trump’s Tulsa rally

Though they expressed their belief that “everyone is free to vote as they like,” the Petty family was open in stating that they do not endorse the Republic leader.

“We believe in America and we believe in democracy,” they wrote. “But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either.”

“We would hate for fans that are marginalized by this administration to think we were complicit in this usage. Concurrently, we have issued an official cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign.”

Trump’s Tulsa rally draws significantly smaller crowds
Trump’s Tulsa rally draws significantly smaller crowds

Benmont Tench III, one of five founding members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, backed the family’s statement in his own Instagram post, which reads: “I, in no way, approve of Trump even whistling any piece of music associated with our band. I hope that’s clear enough.”

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“Lest anyone think it was with our approval,” Tench, 66, wrote as the post’s caption.

READ MORE: Bruce Springsteen calls U.S. COVID-19 response ‘national disgrace’

This isn’t the first time Trump has been condemned for using a specific song for one of his rallies. Neil Young, Pharrell Williams, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and the late Prince — or at least his estate — are among those who have publicly disapproved of the president using their music.

Including Petty’s I Won’t Back Down, Trump has not publicly addressed the backlash after using any of these musicians’ works for his campaign events.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca
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