Four of Tom Petty’s family members have blasted US President Donald Trump for using the rocker’s I Won’t Back Down at his Tulsa campaign rally, saying Petty “would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together”.
The statement said Mr Trump “was in no way authorised to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind. Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind”.
The declaration was signed by Adria and Annakim Petty, his two daughters, as well as Dana Petty, his wife at the time of his death in 2017, and Jane Petty, his former wife. They end the note by saying they will file a cease-and-desist order against the Trump campaign.
I Won’t Back Down, a 1989 hit that is one of the most enduring songs in Petty’s catalogue, was used as Trump’s walk-on music at Saturday’s (local time) rally at the BOK Centre in Oklahoma.
“Tom wrote this song for the underdog, for the common man and for everyone,” Petty’s survivors wrote in their joint statement.
“We want to make it clear that we believe everyone is free to vote as they like, think as they like, but the Petty family doesn’t stand for this. We believe in America and we believe in democracy.
“But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either. We would hate for fans that are marginalised by this administration to think we were complicit in this usage. Concurrently, we have issued a cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign.”
The rally in Tulsa marked Mr Trump’s return to proper campaign for ahead of the November 3 presidential election after months of delay because of the coronavirus pandemic. The event was marred by a lower than expected turnout – Mr Trump boasted of a million requests for tickets, but the local fire department said just 6200 people attended.
It was also notable for the President’s surprising statement that he had asked his staff to do less testing for COVID-19, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to … find more cases,” he said.
“So, I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please’.”
The White House laster said saying the President was “only joking”.
The end of Mr Trump’s lengthy and typically polarising speech was met by the opening strains of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want, as always. The British group has repeatedly asked the Trump campaign to stop using the song, to no avail.
Canadian singer Neil Young objected to Mr Trump’s use of his 1989 song Rockin’ in the Free World when he announced his presidential campaign in 2016.
Mr Trump’s campaign said it had paid to licence it.
Rock band R.E.M. and pop singer Rihanna have also objected to Mr Trump using their songs.