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Tom Petty's Final Interview Just Days Before His Death: Working 'Keeps Me Young'

Days before he died, Petty reflected on the 40th anniversary tour with his band and told a reporter he had no plans to retire because work "keeps me young."
Image: 'Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Perform At Le  Grand Rex
Tom Petty performs at Le Grand Rex on June 27, 2012 in Paris, France.David Wolff - Patrick / Getty Images file

Just days before his death, rocker Tom Petty told a reporter he had no plans to retire because work "keeps me young."

Petty sat down with The Los Angeles Times on Sept. 27 — five days before he died — in what the paper says was the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer's final interview. Petty, 66, died Monday after going into cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California.

The paper on Wednesday published the full audio of the interview with pop music writer Randy Lewis, which lasts for just over an hour. Lewis had interviewed Petty before and the rocker sounds relaxed, easily breaking into laughter, yet eager to discuss the future.

Related: Tom Petty, Rock Craftsman Admired for Four Decades, Dies at 66

"I'm excited to get into the studio again. I just have to learn to rest a little bit," Petty said. "Everyone is telling me I need to stop working for a period of time. ... If I don’t have a project going, I don’t feel like I’m connected to anything. I don’t even think it's that healthy for me. I like to get out of bed and have a purpose."

Along with his band the Heartbreakers, Petty helped weave the fabric of American rock-and-roll for decades. Petty and the Heartbreakers had just wrapped up a successful six-month tour on Sept. 25, but when asked if that was the band's last hurrah, Petty chuckled.

"We laugh and say among ourselves, why do they think we would quit?" he asked. "I mean, if one of us went down, or one of us died, or God forbid got sick ... then we’d stop. I think that would be the end of it, if someone couldn’t do it.”

He admitted that the 53-show, 40th-anniversary tour had been "grueling" because it was so long, but expressed interest in getting back to performing after a brief reprieve.

Image: Tom Petty Obit
Tom Petty performs on the main stage on day 2 of The Isle of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park on June 22, 2012 in Newport, Isle of Wight.Samir Hussein / Getty Images file

"I have a few things I want to deal with down the road, but I'm not ready to start yet," he said, adding that he wanted to rest an injured hip first.

He spoke with pride about still working: "When you get on the back side of your 60s, most people aren’t working. But this keeps us young."

Petty and his band were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and got to perform four of their hits at the halftime of the Super Bowl in 2008.

He called the response to his recent tour "ridiculous."

"It's been very successful — beyond my wildest dreams," Petty said.