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Chris Hillman’s new record connects him to Tom Petty

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Chris Hillman plays the Texas Union Theater on Saturday, Nov. 11. Contributed/Lori Stoll

When 2017 began, Tom Petty had two big commitments on the horizon. Looming in April was a 53-show tour with his band, the Heartbreakers, celebrating 40 years since the November 1976 release of their debut album. But first, he had some business to take care of with an old friend.

Chris Hillman had helped to change the direction of Petty’s life, half a century ago. As an original member of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Byrds, Hillman left an indelible mark on popular music in the 1960s. Petty openly revered the Byrds, covering a couple of their songs on his records and often citing the group as a primary inspiration.

Their mutual friend and fellow musician Herb Pedersen had been touring with Petty’s side-band Mudcrutch, and the subject of doing a record with Hillman arose. “Herb brought it up to Tom, and Tom jumped on it,” Hillman says. “I had no intention of making another record.”

In January, they began recording at Petty’s home studio. The result was “Bidin’ My Time,” a 12-song album that was released by Rounder Records on Sept. 22, just as Petty was concluding his five-month run with the Heartbreakers. A week later, Tom was gone.

Hillman, Pedersen and Jorgenson had just begun to support the new album with a tour that brings them to Austin on Nov. 10 for a show at the Texas Union Theater. They were in Nashville the day they heard the news. “It was devastating to everybody,” recalls Hillman, who says his initial instinct was to cancel the next few dates of the run.

Read more about the record and why they didn’t cancel any shows in a story on our premium website, Mystatesman.com.