Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down [Single/Album Version]Details

"Tom's video compilation A Bunch Of Videos and Some Other Stuff features I Won't Back Down, on which Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and Ringo Starr also appear [is released]."
Andrew Whiteside (1989 - Face The Music fanzine #6)

"Jeff's bass line thumps merrily throughout I Won't Back Down, the most Wilbury-like song of the set, and probably chosen for that reason to the LP's lead single, which is not necessarily a good thing. 10 marks for good marketing, but minus 10 for originality. That bass and drum is Jeff's way of marking his territory (witness Handle With Care, This Is Love, Not Alone Any More. etc.), and it insists of dominating A Face In The Crowd (more akin to Cloud Nine than Full Moon Fever), Depending On You and The Apartment Song (the latter two being saved by Tom's raw voice and lyrics).isn't, Tom Petty is most definitely is."
Maria Hanna with contributions by Andrew Whiteside (1989 - Face The Music fanzine #6)

"MTV’s exposure of the Full Moon Fever videos helped introduce Petty to a new generation of fans. 'We were beginning to see the same faces for a while there,' says Petty. 'It was incredible to find so many young people who didn’t know anything about us, or me, who were discovering the whole trip because they liked Free Fallin' or I Won’t Back Down. I think I laughed for an entire year.'"
David Wild (August 8, 1991 - Rolling Stone #610)

"I Won't Back Down is one of the most rewarding songs I've written. I still get letters from people or they come up to me on the street and tell me how it's helped them through some kind of crisis in their life. And you know, really to inspire somebody is the highest thing a songwriter can strive for."
Tom Petty (1994 - Tom Petty: Going Home documentary)

"'I remember that being written in the studio,' Mike Campbell says. 'Tom and Jeff had started it, but they didn't have all the words. We were mixing Freefallin' which we had just done, and they went into the next room and finished it on piano. Things were moving fast around that time.' 'I remember coming down to Michael's garage to do background vocals,' Howie [Epstein] says. 'It was the first time I worked with Jeff Lynne. George Harrison was there. I did vocals with Tom, George and Jeff. We got the parts pretty quickly. It was all done in maybe 40 minutes.'"
Bill Flanagan (1995 liner notes for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Playback)

"Petty's highly successful 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever included contributions from George Harrison on I Won't Back Down. The album also included collaborations with Jeff Lynne. The music video for I Won't Back Down includes appearances by Harrison on acoustic guitar and Ringo [Starr] on drums, though Starr does not actually play on the recording. The video also includes Jeff Lynne on bass, Tom Petty on acoustic guitar and Mike Campbell on electric guitar. A limited edition 7-inch single released in the U.K. also included pictures of George and Ringo on its picture sleeve."
Kristofer Engelhardt (1998 - Beatles Undercover)

"22 March [1989]: George and Ringo are at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire to join Tom Petty in the shoot of the Petty promo [video] of the number I Won't Back Down. [...] 23 March [1989]: Shooting continues on the I Won't Back Down promo [video]. [...] 31 May [1989]: Tom Petty's home video compilation A Bunch Of Videos And Some Other Stuff is released in America. It includes the promo [video] of I Won't Back Down in which George and Ringo appear. [...] 11 August [1989]: The Tom Petty video compilation A Bunch Of Videos And Some Other Stuff is released in Britain. [...] [1989: George] also contributed to Songs From The Garage [Editor's Note: actually Full Moon Fever], Tom Petty's solo album. Along with Ringo, George appeared on the promo [music video] of Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down, a track from Petty's Full Moon Fever, on which he played acoustic guitar. [...] [I Won't Back Down was] a single taken from the Tom Petty album Full Moon Fever which was issued in Britain on MCA Records on 24 April 1969 [sic]. George was a guest guitarist on the recording. [...] George played guitar and sang backing vocals on this song I Won't Back Down."
Bill Harry (2003 - The George Harrison Encyclopedia)

"While we were mixing Free Fallin' we wrote I Won't Back Down. Jeff and I did, in a little booth in the studio. So now George is back in town, and he helped us record I Won't Back Down. And we're having a ball. [...] We wrote [I Won't Back Down] as we were mixing Free Fallin'. We wrote that in the next room. In a little glass booth, where I could actually see into the control room, I could see them working on the mix. So we went in next door, where the piano was, and came up with that. We came out really excited. It was hard to keep our mind on the mix because we already wanted to cut this other song. George [Harrison] was around a lot during that time. Just socially, just hanging out. His family would come over, and we became close, the two families. So George would sometimes come to the session to hang out. That was a particular time that he was there, and he wound up singing with us. I played the piano. Jeff had the melody for the verse, and then I came up with main riff. We got together, and with all this synergy, we pretty much finished the song-- all but one line. Which was 'There ain't no easy way out.' I didn't have a line for that. And I was singing, 'I'm standing on the edge of the world.' [Laughs] And when we were recording it, George said, 'What the hell is that-- 'I'm standing on the edge of the world' Surely there's got to be something better than that.' [Laughs] And then I came up with 'There ain't no easy way out,' which seemed so obvious. But that was George going, 'That line's dumb.' And I'm really glad that I got all the dumb lines out, because it's a song that apparently a lot of people have been inspired by. I get a lot of people telling me, either through the mail or in person, how that song has played a role in helping them in some way in their life. How it's given them conviction to get over a certain obstacle in their life. It's really gratifying. I even saw an article in a paper about a girl coming out of a coma listening to that song. It had been her favorite song. There was a pro-choice doctor who was murdered, and they did a rally for him, and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam phoned me and said, 'I'm gonna sing I Won't Back Down tonight and I wanted to make sure you wouldn't mind.' And I said, 'No, the song is there to be used.' And I later heard Pearl Jam's version of it, and it was really good. I've heard a lot of different versions of it. I heard a church choir sing it. My brother's told me he's heard marching bands do it at football games. And I just heard a gospel record of it, where the guy was doing it as a shuffle. So when I first wrote that song, I thought, 'This might not be right, because it's so blunt, very blunt.' But I think that bluntness may have been what inspired people. One of my more well-known songs. I just have to do it in shows or people feel let down. So I'm really happy to have written that one."
Tom Petty (November 1, 2005 - Conversations With Tom Petty)

"When I thought I was dying in rehab in 1994, I Won't Back Down was my mantra. It lifted me up out of the pain and made me fight thru it."
Stevie Nicks (March 20, 2006 - Billboard)

"There was a lot of emotion in Even the Losers, Free Fallin', and Won't Back Down [sic]."
Nils Lofgren (March 20, 2006 - Billboard)

"My all-time favorite is [song] that I worked on is I Won't Back Down. That kind of sums up Tom -- he's a cool guy and he's tough. I think he really did a great job on that, but I'm biased because I co-wrote the thing.""
Jeff Lynne (March 20, 2006 - Billboard)

"Songs [written by Tom] like I Won't Back Down, Don't Do Me Like That, Into the Great Wide Open and I Need To Know, speak volumes about the necessity of not only doing things his way, but to reinvent himself in the process, with a myriad of images of fleeing, falling and starting over that reoccur over and over in his canon, culminating in what are perhaps his most salient words to the wise: 'Comin' down is the hardest thing.' [on Learning To Fly]. [...] [Tom Petty polarized] some of his fan base after he prevented George W. Bush from using I Won't Break Down" as his 2000 campaign song—and later performing the song at Vice President Gore's house in Washington D.C. an hour after Gore conceded the election to Bush. [...] Out of Petty's canon, perhaps one song defines him the most: 'I Won't Back Down is purely me. That song frightened me when I wrote it. I didn't embrace it at all. It's so obvious. I thought it wasn't that good because it was so naked. So I had a lot of second thoughts about recording that song. But everyone around me liked the song and said it was really good and it turns out everyone was right—more people connect to that song than anything I ever wrote. I've had so many people tell me that it helped them through this or it helped them through that. I'm still continually amazed about the power a little three-minute song has."
Jaan Uhelszki (July 2006 - Harp Magazine)

"[At the time of the recording of the Traveling Wilburys' first album,] Harrison had recently contributed to Petty's Lynne-produced single I Won't Back Down."
Alan Light (June 1, 2007 - MSN Music)

"Jeff and I had written You Got It for Roy. We had just done Free Fallin', and George was with us for I Won't Back Down. I had been on the road for two years backing up Bob. So we were all in the same circle and the group just naturally materialized. It was George's band, really. He was the leader; the whole idea for the band was his idea."
Tom Petty (June 1, 2007 - MSN Music)

"While we were mixing down Free Fallin', Jeff and I wrote I Won't Back Down in the next room. [...] Of all the songs I've written, I think I get the most feedback about [I Won't Back Down]. And it is a personal song. When I did it, I sort of thought that I had laid it out, you know, with no ambiguity at all, like I had just said it very plainly, that I kind of felt nervous about it. Like maybe I should take it back and disguise it a little bit. But I'm glad I didn't. And it's very much like me."
Tom Petty (2007 - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down A Dream)

"[The Heartbreakers] didn't like anything on [Petty's 1989 solo album] Full Moon Fever -- 'they' meaning everyone but Mike. [...] Benmont didn't like I Won't Back Down when he first heard it. And they didn't get [co-producer] Jeff Lynne. [...] [I Won't Back Down] put me off when I wrote it. It's so bare, without any ambiguity. There was nothing there but truth. There was another issue going on, though. Someone had tried to kill me, with the arson at my house. [In 1987, someone set fire to Petty's home in Encino, California.] I took that personally. Surviving something like that makes you feel alive. That was my mind-set: I will survive, I will move on. It blurted out of my mouth. I changed one thing. There was a line I was singing, 'I'm standing on the edge of the world.' When we cut the record, George Harrison was there. He played and sang on that track. And he goes, 'Tom, what the fuck is it with standing on the edge of the world?' I was like, 'Oh, busted.' I went, 'Yeah, you're right. That doesn't mean anything.' I thought for a minute and went, 'How about, There ain't no easy way out?' George went, 'Much better.' [...] It was George's idea to get Ringo [for the I Won't Back Down music video]. What am I going to say -- No? I knew Ringo. He would hang around with us. But I still can't believe that happened. We had amps on the set, and we'd be jamming between takes. I remember playing and looking at Mike, like, 'How about this?'"
Tom Petty (December 10, 2009 - Rolling Stone #1093)

"I helped [Tom Petty] finish one song [Yer So Bad]. And the next one we did was Free Fallin' I believe. And that was pretty good, the second go. [Laughs] And then I think we did I Won't Back Down after that. And it was just going so well, I just had to do the whole album."
Jeff Lynne (October 29, 2012 - Deep Tracks SiriusXM radio show)

"While we were mixing [Yer So Bad and Free Fallin'], we went into a little sound-proof both at this studio and wrote I Won't Back Down. By the time those songs were mixed, we were sitting on another song that we went in the next day and recorded."
Tom Petty (January 2013 - Goldmine magazine)

"Petty said that, as a result of the blaze {that burned down his home in May 1987], he had trouble using the word 'fire' in his song lyrics. However, he did write one of his most famous tunes about the experience: I Won’t Back Down, which appeared on 1989’s Full Moon Fever, was inspired by defiant feelings toward his attacker. 'I’ll stand my ground / And I won’t back down,' he sang. And that’s exactly what the singer-songwriter did, quickly rebuilding a new home on the exact same site – but preserving the untouched basement studio. Curious fans got a peek inside the rebuilt home, via realty websites, when it went on the market in 2013."
Bryan Wawzenek (May 17, 2014 - Ultimate Classic Rock online magazine)

"Tom Petty has been given a songwriting credit on Sam Smith's hit Stay With Me, because of the similarities to his 1989 track I Won't Back Down. Petty's publisher contacted Smith's team after it noticed a likeness between the two songs. A spokesman for Smith said the singer 'acknowledged the similarity', but the likeness was 'a complete coincidence'. It was 'amicably' agreed Petty and his collaborator Jeff Lynne would be credited as co-writers of the track. Smith's spokesman said: 'Recently the publishers for the song I Won't Back Down, written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, contacted the publishers for Stay With Me, written by Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips, about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions. Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of Stay With Me listened to I Won't Back Down and acknowledged the similarity. Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement." Petty's I Won't Back Down peaked at number 12 in the US and number 28 in the UK in 1989, three years before Smith was born. According to The Sun, an out-of-court settlement was made in October, but the details have only just emerged. It is not clear whether Petty and Lynne will receive any royalties for the track. A spokesman for Petty declined to comment to the BBC. Stay With Me is nominated for three Grammys, including song of the year - which honours the writers of the track. However, the Recording Academy said on Monday that Petty and Lynne would not be added to the nominations list for the song. 'Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for Stay With Me,' it said. It added that, should the song win, the pair would be given certificates to honour their participation in the work, in keeping with other writers whose music is sampled or interpolated in new compositions."
Unknown (2015 January 25 - BBC News website)

"On Monday it was revealed [Sam Smith] would have to pay rock icon Tom Petty royalties on his hit Stay With Me because it was decided the tune too closely resembled the 64-year-old legend's 1989 song I Won't Back Down. It was Petty's collaborator Jeff Lynne who noticed the songs sounded alike. The agreement was said to be 'amicable.' Sam's rep said in a statement to Billboard, 'Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of Stay With Me listened to I Won't Back Down and acknowledged the similarity. 'Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of Stay With Me.' Smith has yet to comment on the agreement."
Heidi Parker (2015 January 26 - Daily Mail)

"Tom Petty has earned a writing credit on Sam Smith's megahit Stay With Me for its similarities to his song I Won't Back Down. Smith's representative said Monday the publishers of Petty's 1989 hit contacted the publishers of Smith's song, which was one of last year's biggest hits. Smith and Stay With Me writers James Napier and William Phillips say they agree their song is similar to Petty's song, written with Jeff Lynne. 'Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of Stay With Me along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips,' they said in a statement. Petty's I Won't Back Down peaked at No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. A representative for Petty declined to comment. Stay With Me, Smith's debut song, has sold more than 3.5 million tracks and peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100. The breakthrough British singer is nominated for six Grammy Awards at next month's show, including song of the year, an honor solely for the writers of a track. Sam Smith performs on stage at the 42nd annual American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles. The Recording Academy's senior vice president of awards, Bill Freimuth, said Monday that Petty and Lynne would not be added to the nominations list for the song. 'Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for Stay With Me,' Freimuth said in a statement. Lynne and Petty won't be considered Grammy nominees or Grammy recipients should the song win, he said. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just like other writers of sampled or interpolated work, he said."
Mesfin Fekadu (2015 January 26 - Washington Times)

"Over the weekend, The Sun reported that Sam Smith had quietly and amicably settled a copyright dispute with Tom Petty over the likeness between Smith's three-time Grammy-nominated Stay With Me and Petty's Full Moon Fever hit I Won't Back Down, co-written with ELO's Jeff Lynne. In a statement to Rolling Stone, Smith's reps have confirmed that Stay With Me is now co-credited to Petty and Lynne, adding that while there are undeniable 'similarities' between the two singles, it was a 'complete coincidence.' 'Recently the publishers for the song I Won't Back Down, written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, contacted the publishers for Stay With Me, written by Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips, about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions,' Smith's rep tells Rolling Stone. 'Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of Stay With Me listened to I Won't Back Down and acknowledged the similarity.' Smith's rep added, 'Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of Stay With Me along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips.' A representative for Petty was not immediately available for comment. On the ASCAP site, where songwriter information is collated and frequently updated, Petty and Lynne are now listed among the Stay With Me team of Smith, Napier and Phillips. It's unclear whether Petty and Lynne were retroactively compensated for their songwriting credit or if they'll receive future earnings on the track. Despite getting writing credit, however, Petty and Lynne will not be eligible for a Grammy should Smith win any of his multiple nominations for the track. 'Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for Stay With Me,' Senior Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth told the Wall Street Journal. 'Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees nor will they be considered GRAMMY recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work.'"
Daniel Kreps (January 26, 2015 - Rolling Stone)

"About the Sam Smith thing. [Stay With Me and I Won't Back Down similarities.] Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam's people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement. The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it. How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all."
Tom Petty (January 29, 2015 - tompetty.com)

"One performance [at the 57th Grammy Awards] that stood out was Electric Light Orchestra's. It was clear the band's music still appeals to the current generation, and Sam Smith's Stay with Me is cut from the same cloth, so much so that Smith was forced to give credit to ELO's Jeff Lynne and Lynne's frequent collaborator, Tom Petty, songwriting credit for the song because of Stay With Me and I Won't Back Down's similarities."
Thom Jennings (February 13 2015 - Niagara Gazette)

"Controversy arose over similarities between Smith's song Stay With Me and Tom Petty's 1989 hit I Won't Back Down. Last month it emerged that Petty's publisher had contacted Smith and, subsequently, Petty and co-writer Jeff Lynne were rewarded 12.5 per cent of royalties from the track. Smith remarked that the similarity was 'completely coincidental'."
Ben Lawrence (February 15 2015 - The Telegraph)

"How Sam Smith Got His Grammy-Winning Song - It's simple: He stole it. Before Sam Smith postponed his February 2 appearance at Key Arena and then swept the Grammys on February 8, raking in four awards, the young British songwriter was quietly stewing in a pot of hot water. Details emerged toward the end of January that he had, in fact, kind-of-sort-of ripped off Tom Petty—the title track from Smith's chart-topping Stay With Me bore an uncanny resemblance to Petty's I Won't Back Down— and had settled out of court, striking a deal that earned both Petty and co-writer Jeff Lynne a reported 12.5 percent writing credit on the track. Petty played it cool, saying he had 'no hard feelings' and that 'all my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door, but in this case it got by.' Smith's representatives were equally cordial, claiming Smith and the song's other writers, William Edward Phillips and James John Napier, were 'not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song.' That quote strikes me as odd, because claiming the entirety of Smith's songwriting team had never heard one of Tom Petty's biggest hits is more likely bullshit. Yes, Smith was born three years after its release in a different county, but saying you've never once heard a song so well-etched into the American classic-rock songbook, a beloved canon with far-reaching tentacles in the Western pop world, is like saying you have no idea who Paul McCartney is (we'll get to that later). I wasn't born during their heyday or in their country, but I know who the Beatles are. (There's some irony in the example, too, since Petty's involvement with members of that group is common knowledge— and George Harrison actually plays guitar and sings on the song in question.) [...] While Smith probably didn't set out to steal Petty's song, he also probably didn't take the time to reflect on the idea that a song like Petty's might already be in him. That doesn't excuse the giddy part of the Twitterverse that believed Kanye West discovered McCartney— but perhaps, the next time the next big thing steps up to receive a Grammy, he or she might pause to thank someone like Tom Petty, whom Smith neglected to mention in his acceptance speech, for giving him the idea."
Gwendolyn Elliott (February 17 2015 - Seattle Weekly)

"Stay With Me became a smash on multiple radio formats and reached No 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. (But it did have one setback: After the publishers of Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down complained of melodic similarities between the songs, Smith agreed to add songwriting credits for Petty and his co-writer, Jeff Lynne.)"
Ben Sisario (February 20 2015 - The Scotsman)

"The Grande-Castor suit follows a recent legal row between Sam Smith and Tom Petty. The rocker's lawyers alleged that Smith's hit Stay With Me recycled key parts of Petty's '80's smash Won't Back Down [sic]. The two sides settle outside of court, though in that case, Smith awarded a co-writing credit to Petty and his original collaborator Jeff Lynne."
Jim Farber (2015 February 23 - New York Daily News)
Editor's Note: Tom Petty's lawyers did not make the allegation; rather the song publisher's lawyers made it. There is no evidence that Petty was ever aware of the issue until the publisher brought it up.

"Q: But Sam Smith won both of those awards [Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the Year] this year, and he stole [Stay With Me] from Tom Petty! A: Only sort of! Sam Smith performed the song on the official recording, and he initially shared the songwriting credits with James Napier and William Phillips. And while the lyrics and instrumentation of Stay with Me are nothing like Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down, the entire melody of the chorus—the rises and falls of Smith's voice—is very similar. In lieu of a trial, Smith reached a settlement with Petty and ELO's Jeff Lynne, Petty's co-writer. In that sense, Smith's Song of the Year Grammy and all of his future royalties will presumably be shared among the now-five songwriters, including Petty and Lynne."
John Hendrickson (March 4 2015 - Esquire)

"The topic of plagiarism was already hot since Sam Smith agreed to pay Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne for melodic similarities between Smith's hit Stay With Me and Petty's I Won't Back Down. But in that case, Smith gave Petty and Lynne a writing credit before legal proceedings even started, adn Petty went on the record saying he believed it was accidental."
Dom Flemons (2015 March 17 - New York Times)

"Having already agreed to pay Tom Petty songwriting royalties after listeners noted a similarity between Stay With Me and the 1989 track I Won't Back Down, Sam Smith is facing a fresh legal challenge in relation to the song. As reported by TMZ, songwriter Mark Halper has filed a lawsuit that claims a demo he recorded in 1986 titled Don't Throw Our Love Away begins with the 'phraseology and significant phrase, stay with me.' Rather than suing Smith, Halper is said to be going after several record labels, and is seeking a Grammy Award after the song collected gongs for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in February. I Won't Back Down was written by Petty and Jeff Lynne for Petty's first solo album, Full Moon Fever. The pair agreed an out of court settlement with Smith in October – an arrangement that included a 12.5 percent writing credit to both artists. Smith, Petty, Lynne and Jimmy Napes are now listed as the chief songwriters. In January, a source close to the case told The Sun: 'When Sam’s track was originally released, it was clear to a lot of musicians that there were notable similarities between the tracks. After it was pointed out to Sam’s camp, they didn’t try to fight it and amicably dished out royalties. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, musicians are just inspired by other artists and Sam and his team were quick to hold up their hand when it was officially flagged.'"
Unknown (2015 April 8 - NME)

"[James] Napier's nomination [for an Ivor Novello Award] for Stay With Me sees him listed alongside Sam Smith and fellow writer William Phillips. However, there is no room for veteran musicians Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who were given a writing credit on Stay With Me in January because of similarities with their 1989 track I Won't Back Down. Under rules set by the British Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (Basca), Lynne and Petty are not eligible because they each received less than 15% of the writing credit. Speaking after the nominations, Napier said he and his co-writers had not heard I Won't Back Down before Petty and Lynne approached them. 'We were unfamiliar with the song and when it was brought to our attention we had to hold our hands up because there was a similarity in the melody,' he told the BBC. 'It was amicably settled but it was a bit of a shock to us because we didn't know the record.'"
Unknown (2015 April 21 - BBC website)

"Smith is transforming arena-rock anthems by setting their clarion melodies in hymn-like arrangements. With Stay with Me, the rock source material (I Won’t Back Down) was so obvious that Smith had to share writing credits with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne."
Geoffrey Himes (2015 April 21 - Smithsonian website)

"Hot on the heels of that success [the Traveling Wilburys' Volume One], Lynne helped Petty and Mike Campbell produce an even bigger hit in 1989, Petty’s first solo album, Full Moon Fever, which went 6x platinum and yielded not just several hit singles, but lasting classics such as Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down."
Steven Gaydos (April 23, 2015 - Variety)

"For instance, everyone cracked up as [Joe] Walsh quipped [at Jeff Lynne's Hollywood Walk Of Fame star ceremony], 'Jeff was born with sunglasses on.' However, even Lynne himself winced – albeit with a smile – when, after calling Lynne, 'One of the greatest stars rock has ever produced,' Walsh added, 'I am sure Sam Smith and his co-writers would agree.' (He was, of course, referring to the well-publicized incident of Lynne and Petty legally winning co-writer credits on Smith's hit Stay With Me, due to similarities to Petty's I Won’t Back Down.)"
Steve Baltin (April 24, 2015 - Yahoo! Music)

"Last year, 22-year-old English singer and recording artist Sam Smith shot to fame with his debut album In the Lonely Hour. His success was fueled by the gospel-inspired hit single Stay With Me, which reached No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Now, a Telluride-area resident is claiming that he was the author of those famous three little words — back in 1984. According to a copyright infringement lawsuit filed April 6 in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Mark Halper is suing Sony/ATV Music Publishing, EMI April Music, Gone Gator Music, Universal Polygram International Tunes, Sony ATV Songs, Stellar Songs and Method Paperwork. Halper wants 28 percent of the royalties from the single and the CD as well as a songwriting credit on the Grammy Awards. He is representing himself in the suit and doesn’t currently have a copyright infringement attorney. [...] Halper is not the first person to claim Smith’s song has similarities to their own. In October, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne were reportedly awarded a 12.5 percent stake in Stay With Me in an out-of-court settlement because of its resemblance to Petty’s 1989 hit I Won’t Back Down. Petty and Lynne also received songwriting credits for Stay With Me."
Heather Sackett (April 26, 2015 - Telluride Daily Planet)

"Petty recently settled out of court with pop star Sam Smith after it was decided his hit Stay With Me sounds similar to 1989 track I Won't Back Down, co-written with Jeff Lynne. Petty said: 'I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam – all my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen.'"
Heather Sackett (June 3, 2015 - Teamrock)

"Court documents reveal that a federal lawsuit was filed by Mark Halper accusing Smith of stealing his 1986 song Don’t Throw Our Love Away for use in Stay With Me. In his suit, which was filed against Smith’s record labels Sony Music and Universal Polygram, Halper stated that recorded a demo [sic] in the 80’s which began with the significant phrase, 'stay with me.' Halper goes on to claim that Smith used the 'stay with me' phrase eight times in his Grammy-winning song. In his eyes, Halper believes this is proof that Smith stole his work. Halper, according to TheJasmineBrand.com, is demanding royalties in the amount of 28% for the albums sold by Smith, along with the record labels to recommend he be credited by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for the Grammys won by Smith. The site notes that Smith’s record labels fired back against Halper’s lawsuit on June 17. According to the companies, Halper never once mentions in his complaint how they or Smith would have even come in contact with his demo. In addition, Sony and Universal mentioned that Halper doesn’t own a copyright to Don’t Throw Our Love Away. As for Halper’s attempt to claim a stake in the phrase Stay With Me, the labels said it is a common phrase that cannot be copyrighted or claimed by any one person. As a result, Sony and Universal deny that Smith stole Halper’s music. With this, they are refusing to hand over any royalties to Halper demand that the entire lawsuit be thrown out of court. Halper’s lawsuit marks the second time Stay With Me has been in the center of a legal situation. Earlier this year, a settlement was reached with singer Tom Petty’s publishing company to add the classic rocker and Jeff Lynne as co-writers for Stay With Me, after similarities were noticed between Smith’s song and the melody of Petty’s classic 1989 hit I Won’t Back Down."
Qwest7 (2015 June 26 - EURweb article)

"The huge crowds that amassed to see Smith's afternoon sets at the Austin City Limits Music Festival last fall were a bellwether that the British pop-soul singer's debut album In the Lonely Hour and its smash hit Stay With Me were on a bullet train to the 2015 Grammys. He took home four awards, including both 'Record of the Year' and 'Song of the Year' for Stay With Me, amid an ultimately minor kerfuffle about its similarity to the late-'80s Tom Petty hit I Won't Back Down. (Smith eventually credited Petty and producer Jeff Lynne as co-writers, and Petty spoke up in the singer's defense.) It remains to be seen whether he's a flash-in-the-pan or a long-term force in pop music; but for now, Smith is still basking in his shining moment."
Peter Blackstock (August 14 2015 - Austin American-Statesman)

"Of the other twelve [songs on Full Moon Fever], Jeff co-wrote seven, including the singles I Won’t Back Down, Runnin’ Down A Dream, and Free Fallin’. [...] Nine years later, Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, it was decided, bore more than a passing resemblance to I Won’t Back Down, the Tom Petty hit of 1989 which he had co-written with Jeff. Tom good-naturedly declared that it was ‘a musical accident, no more no less,’ and an out-of-court settlement resulted in Tom and Jeff both receiving an agreed share of royalties as well as a joint co-song-writing credit."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"Award-winning Sam Smith 'refuses' to listen to Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down. The 23-year-old singer was previously ordered to pay the songwriter royalties because of similarities between the track and his own song Stay With Me, but he insists it is just an unfortunate coincidence because he had never even heard the 1989 composition. He told GQ magazine: 'It's never going to be fair to me because I sat in a room with two guys and wrote a song. One guy played some beautiful chords and I started singing and wrote a song about a one-night stand. That is genuinely how it was. I am 23 years old - Tom Petty's song came out way before I was born and still to this day - people don't know this - I actually haven't listened to the song. I refuse to listen to it. Even now I won't listen to it.' Sam insists it was just an 'unfortunate' mistake, and though Tom was gracious about the row, he will never agree with the ruling. He added: 'There are only so many notes on a piano... We were just unfortunate that it happened, but there was no bad intention. 'Tom Petty wrote me a really nice letter, which I thought was really kind, but I am never going to be happy about it as it's still my song to me.' Tom has previously described the similarities between the two songs as a 'musical accident' and insisted he bears no ill-will towards Sam. He wrote on his official website: 'About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam's people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement. The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it. How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all.'"
Claire Rutter (September 20, 2015 - Daily Mirror)

"The second song we did was Free Fallin', just sitting there, two guitars. The next one we did was I Won't Back Down. So it was amazing. They're like standards in America, those songs."
Jeff Lynne (October 25, 2015 - My Planet Rocks)

"All Sam Smith needed was a listen to Full Moon Fever. The singer insists he never heard Won’t Back Down [sic] before writing Grammy Award darling Stay With Me, but the English singer’s camp kind of disagreed. At the height of the song’s popularity, Petty’s publisher contacted Smith’s people. Shortly thereafter, the Gainsville-rocker, as well as Jeff Lynne, were given writing credits."
Nicholas Parco (April 12, 2016 - New York Daily News)

"The Blurred Lines case is already rippling through society. As the case was being litigated, British pop artist Sam Smith bowed to pressure and partly credited Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne for his song Stay With Me because of melodic similarities to Mr. Petty’s I Won’t Back Down."
Josh O'Kane (May 16, 2016 - The Globe and Mail)

"While they were working on some technical stuff in the mix room Jeff and I took our guitars into a little vocal booth they had off to the side and we wrote I Won’t Back Down while they were mixing Free Fallin'.' So we came out of that saying, ‘We think we’ve got another one,’ and we went back and did that one in the next day or two. I Won’t Back Down’ many people have done that, and I sometimes think maybe Johnny Cash did that better than me or whatever, but that’s where I was at the time with it."
Tom Petty (June 7, 2016 - Billboard)

"Perhaps the least acrimonious of all copyright infringement suits involved two big names: Sam Smith and Tom Petty. British singer-songwriter Smith won legions of fans with Stay With Me, a heartbreaking tune about asking a lover to stay the night, despite the fact 'this ain't love, it's plain to see.' But in 1989, three years before Smith was born, rock legend Tom Petty had a remarkably similar sounding tune about a very different subject — standing strong in the face of obstacles. Petty and cowriter Jeff Lynne decided to sue Smith for copyright infringement of their hit Won't Back Down [sic]. In an interview with CBC's Ian Hanomansing in 2015, Sam Smith said he'd never heard Petty's tune,and that if any plagiarism was done, it was unintentional. The copyright dispute was settled quietly out of court. Petty and Lynne are now listed as co-writers of Stay With Me and receive 12.5 per cent of the song's royalties. In a Facebook statement, Petty said he held 'no grudge' against the younger musician."
Deana Sumanac-Johnson (June 14, 2016 - CBC News)

"Just last year, Sam Smith discovered his monster hit Stay With Me resembled Tom Petty classic I Won't Back Down so much that -- out of court -- Smith decided he would share royalties with Petty (and his co-writer Jeff Lynne)."
Jed Gottlieb (2016 June 23 - Boston Herald)

"I’m surprised song-writing rock stars aren’t required to go to copyright infringement school. How does anyone find that dividing line with songs that sound similar? To a critical but not fully educated ear for music, I have found it interesting when a song like Stay with Me by Sam Smith gets successfully challenged because it sounds like Tom Petty’s 1989 song Won’t Back Down [sic]. Petty and co-writer Jeff Lynne now receive 12.5 percent of the song’s royalties. So, does that song sound one-eighth similar to the other? Does it share that fraction of its DNA?"
Seth Muller (2016 June 23 - Arizona Daily Sun)

"But in recent years high-profile and big money plagiarism suits have increased. In 2014, it was reported that Tom Petty had settled a suit with British singer Sam Smith in which Petty claimed his and co-writer Jeff Lynne‘s song I Won’t Back Down was used to create Smith’s hit Stay With Me. The latter earned 2015 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year; Petty and Lynne now reportedly share 12.5 percent of the song’s royalties."
Unknown (2016 June 23 - Best Classic Bands website)

"Tom Petty belongs somewhere in a hall of fame for situations like this. Though he didn’t take either of the rock bands to court, both The Strokes and Red Hot Chili Peppers were dinged for recording songs that sounded suspiciously similar to Petty hits (Last Nite and American Girl; and Last Dance with Mary Jane and Dani California, respectively). Then people started noticing how much the chorus to Sam Smith‘s breakout hit Stay With Me seemed to follow Petty’s Won’t Back Down [sic]. While Petty’s statement to Billboard in January 2015 read 'The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention,' something happened behind the scenes, and Petty and Won’t Back Down cowriter Jeff Lynne were added as songwriters to Stay With Me."
Alex Heigl (2016 August 10 - People)

"Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne were added to the list of writers of Sam Smith's Stay With Me after it drew comparisons to Petty's I Won't Back Down, co-written by Lynne. Both Uptown Funk and Stay With Me won the record of the year Grammy. [Bruno] Mars called the Smith-Petty resolution 'beautiful.'"
Mesfin Fekadu (December 18, 2016 - Seattle Times)

"Sam Smith's Grammy-winning single Stay With Me wound up with two big names added to its credits after Tom Petty's team heard the song. The track bears similarities to Petty's iconic I Won't Back Down and, following a conversation with Smith's representatives, Petty and his collaborator Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra received proper acknowledgments. In a statement to Billboard, Petty called the situation a 'musical accident' and praised Smith for quickly addressing the issue. He also said the word 'lawsuit' was never uttered in the conversations. As for Smith's side of the story, his rep said that Smith and the song's other writers had not been familiar with Petty's 1989 hit and called the likeness a 'complete coincidence' that came to 'an immediate and amicable agreement.'"
Colin Stutz (March 21, 2017 - Billboard)

"In a gentlemen’s agreement, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne were belatedly added to the writer’s list on Sam Smith’s Stay With Me. The song had similarities to Petty’s I Won’t Back Down, but the swift action on Smith’s behalf meant there was no lawsuit and Petty actually wrote a sweet letter pointing out there were no hard feeling and 'these things happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door, but in this case it got by.'"
Cameron Adams (March 22, 2017 - News Corp Australia Network)

"I Won’t Back Down, [is] a lyrically-snappy, jaunty shuffle that vaunts George Harrison’s textural acoustic guitar."
N. Rama Lohan (April 3, 2017 - Star2.com)

"Sam Smith can tell you a thing or two about the timelessness of Petty's songwriting. In 2015, the English pop singer agreed to share credit for his grammy-winning hit Stay With Me with Petty over similarity to I Won't Back Down. 'These things happen,' Petty shrugged at the time."
Jay Cridlin (April 26, 2017 - Tampa Bay Times)

"In 2015, Sam Smith awarded royalties for his Stay With Me to Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty for Tom's 1989 song Won't Back Down [sic] after its release. In a statement, Tom said: 'These Things Can Happen.'"
Ashleigh Rainbird (2017 September 1 - Irish Mirror)

"As a songwriter, [Petty] focused often on daily struggles and the will to overcome them, most memorably on Refugee, Even the Losers and I Won't Back Down. 'It's sort of the classic theme of a lot of the work I've done,' he told The Associated Press in 1989. 'I think faith is very important just to get through life. I think it's really important that you believe in yourself, first of all. It's a very hard to thing to come by. But when you get it, it's invaluable.'"
Unknown (October 2, 2017 - 10TV.com)

"But his songs stayed down-to-earth, with sturdy guitar riffs carrying lyrics that spoke for underdogs and ornery outcasts. In his 1989 hit, I Won’t Back Down, he sang, 'You can stand me up at the gates of hell/But I won’t back down.' [...] And in 2015, Sam Smith belatedly realized that the chorus of his hit Stay With Me had all too much in common with I Won’t Back Down, written by Mr. Petty and Mr. Lynne; he quickly shared the songwriting credit. 'A musical accident no more no less,' Mr. Petty wrote in a typically laconic statement. 'In these times we live in this is hardly news.'"
Jon Pareles (October 3, 2017 - New York Times)

"As a songwriter, he focused often on daily struggles and the will to overcome them, most memorably on Refugee, Even the Losers and I Won't Back Down. iIt's sort of the classic theme of a lot of the work I've done,' he told The Associated Press in 1989. 'I think faith is very important just to get through life. I think it's really important that you believe in yourself, first of all. It's a very hard to thing to come by. But when you get it, it's invaluable.' Petty was both a musician and obsessive fan, one who met his childhood heroes and lived out the fantasies of countless young rock lovers. He befriended Byrds leader Roger McGuinn and became close to George Harrison, who performed on I Won't Back Down."
Unknown (October 3, 2017 - FoxNews.com)

"Another track co-written by Lynne, I Won't Back Down is a lesson in stoicism. 'Well, I know what's right,' Petty sings before telling the listener, 'I got just one life.' He wanted his point to be on the nose - don't give up when life pushes you around - and, consequently wrote a song that can provide hope in fraught times (it got increased radio airplay in the weeks following 9/11 as a message of defiance against oppressive forces)."
Jacob Stolworthy (October 3, 2017 - The Independent)

"The lyric 'You can stand me up at the gates of hell/ But I won't back down' took on a new meaning Monday, as the media prematurely reported Tom Petty’s death, then retracted their statements as the rocker hung on for a day longer. For a fightin’ anthem, I Won’t Back Down is a remarkably humblesounding song, with Petty sounding almost sheepish as he declares he’s not giving up."
Maeve McDermott (October 3, 2017 - USA Today)

"As a songwriter, [Tom Petty] focused often on daily struggles and the will to overcome them, most memorably on Refugee, Even the Losers and I Won't Back Down. 'It's sort of the classic theme of a lot of the work I've done,' he told The Associated Press in 1989. 'I think faith is very important just to get through life. I think it's really important that you believe in yourself, first of all. It's a very hard to thing to come by. But when you get it, it's invaluable.' [...] He befriended Byrds leader Roger McGuinn and became close to George Harrison, who performed on I Won't Back Down."
Hillel Italie (October 3, 2017 - Associated Press)

"Full Moon Fever, the solo album that Mr. Petty released in 1989, is his second front-to-back classic LP (the first was Damn the Torpedoes, a decade before). Several of its songs, including the pleasantly defiant I Won’t Back Down, the delightfully bizarre Runnin’ Down a Dream and a spot-on cover of the Byrds’ I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better [sic], are among his strongest work."
Simon Vozick-Levinson (October 3, 2017 - The New York Times)

"Another hit off Full Moon Fever, [I Won't Back Down], this jam reached No. 12 on the overall top 100, and topped the rock charts. The song also has a famous music video, which features Lynne and George Harrison, who were in the band the Traveling Wilburys with Petty, along with former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr."
Lesley Messer and Michael Rothman (October 3, 2017 - ABC News)

"I believe I first heard Petty perform I Won’t Back Down from a live CD my uncle burned me of the 9/11 concert. I was in the third grade and I remember the lines 'you can stand me up at the gates of hell and I won’t back down' vividly, in a way no other song had made me think of the words before. As I grew older I started to delve into the catalogue deeper and with that I began finding out what an enormous impact he had on musicians everywhere and the way we do things today. I am currently rolling up a joint for Tom as I type this, the man was a genius, fuck today."
Cameron Boucher [Sorority Noise] (October 4, 2017 - Stereogum online magazine)

"I was probably around eight years old when I got Full Moon Fever, my first Tom Petty LP. I’m sure I must have gotten it after seeing the I Won’t Back Down video on MTV. I mean, Ringo was in it, how could I not back this guy? The record was an amazing journey, I listened to it countless times."
Mikey Erg (October 4, 2017 - Stereogum online magazine)

"I Won’t Back Down. Petty was admirable in his simplicity, honesty, and sort of 'I’ll do it my way' mentality. I love the driving rhythm of this song with those steady eighth notes. Put yourself in a car on the plains, windows down, music up."
S. Carey (October 4, 2017 - Stereogum online magazine)

"Few in Ottawa were more devastated to learn of Tom Petty’s death this week than Bruce Firestone, the original owner of the Ottawa Senators. In the late 1980s, Firestone, along with franchise co-founders Cyril Leeder and Randy Sexton, used Petty’s hit song I Won’t Back Down as the theme for their bid to bring NHL hockey back to Ottawa. They rode the song hard, using it at media conferences and myriad other gatherings on the long road to winning an NHL club in 1990. The song resonated with the three young business people attempting what many deemed impossible – to beat out a bid from the Golden Triangle (Hamilton) in southern Ontario. You know how that played out. Petty’s song went on to become a featured game night ditty at the Senators new arena, the Palladium in Kanata. 'It was with great distress that I learned Tom Petty has passed away,' Firestone wrote in his 'Prof Bruce' blog entry. 'Tom, of course, wrote … the tune that inspired a group of young people to do exactly that – not back down from the fight to bring NHL hockey to Canada’s capital city in the period 1987 to 1992.' The Senators bidders won the day despite a recession and large national deficit, with the country on the verge of losing two treasured Canadian franchises, in Winnipeg and Quebec. Firestone wrote about this in his recent biography penned in honour of the Senators 25th anniversary. Naturally, the book is called Don’t Back Down, the real story of the founding of the Ottawa Senators and why big leagues matter. Though it’s been years since he has been involved with the day-to-day operations of the hockey club, the original owner remains bullish about the future of sports in Ottawa, Senators included. 'Pro and amateur sports are among the few institutions left around which people can come together and unambiguously feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves,' Firestone said. 'That’s why we brought back the Senators.' Firestone said he is rededicating the book in honour of Petty, along with that little band of Terrace investors. Included on his blog is the hit video of Petty and the Heartbreakers belting out I Won’t Back Down."
Wayne Scanlan (October 4, 2017 - Ottaway Citizen)

"The biggest seller of the day [after Tom Petty's death] was Petty’s 1989 hit Free Fallin', which sold just 111 copies on the day before his death but swelled to 7.981 sales on Monday. I Won’t Back Down, also from Petty’s 1989 album Full Moon Fever, was the second-biggest seller, racking up 5,753 in sales on Monday, compared to 67 sales the previous day."
Tim Kenneally (October 4, 2017 - TheWrap.com website)

"[Tom Petty's] top-five-selling songs for that same Oct. 2-3 [2017] time frame were: Free Fallin’ (21,000 downloads), I Won’t Back Down (15,000), Mary Jane’s Last Dance (12,000), Learning to Fly (11,000) and You Don’t Know How It Feels (9,000)."
Kevin Caulfield (October 4, 2017 - Billboard)

"As soon as its first single, the laid-back yet steadfast I Won’t Back Down, was released, the [rock 'n' roll] rule book was rewritten. [...] MCA Records, Petty’s label at the time, initially rejected Full Moon Fever; once it did come out, it spawned five singles that reached the Hot 100 and sold five million copies. 'I waited awhile, until the top regime at the record company changed,' he told Esquire in 2006, echoing the steely-eyed Full Moon Fever smash I Won’t Back Down, which uses backing vocals from Lynne, Epstein, and Harrison (Petty and Lynne’s eventual bandmate in the Traveling Wilburys) to bolster Petty’s case for staying steadfast in his beliefs."
Sam Sodomsky (October 5, 2017 - Pitchforkcom)

"Some songs, such as 1989's I Won't Back Down. have become inspirational anthems all by themselves."
Klopa Robin (October 5, 2017 - DeathRattleSports.com website)

"Won’t Back Down [sic] is definitely a song I can relate to, and has been one of my favourites for a long time."
Scott McCartney (October 6, 2017 - Fife Today)

"Petty later would team up with the other Wilbury, Jeff Lynne, to write the anthem I Won't Back Down, arguably Petty's biggest hit. Sounds like the Wilburys, doesn't it? And instead of letting the song rest on its laurels, about a decade later, Petty and the Heartbreakers lent a hand to another legend, Johnny Cash, for his American series of albums. Cash was turning all sorts of pop tunes into Cash anthems during this period, and Petty handed him I Won't Back Down, and backed him up as Cash added his trademark steely vocals to the famous lyric, 'You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down.' Maybe it sounds like Johnny Cash and the Heartbreakers, but it also sounds awesome — just like all those other Tom Petty hits."
Alan Small (October 6, 2017 - Winnipeg Free Press)

"In 1989, Petty collaborated with Lynne and came out with his first solo album, Full Moon Fever that featured classics like Free Fallin', I Won't Back Down and Runnin' Down A Dream."
Bulbul Sharma (October 7, 2017 - The Sunday Guardian)

"[Jason Aldean] performed I Won't Back Down [on his Saturday Night Live appearance] by Tom Petty, who died on Monday (02Oct17) after suffering a cardiac arrest, as music fans were still coming to terms with the Las Vegas tragedy. [...] Ironically, the new show's musical guest was Sam Smith, who agreed to credit Petty and Jeff Lynne as co-writers of his 2015 hit Stay With Me after Petty's publishing company bosses argued the song was very similar to the rocker's I Won't Back Down."
Unknown (October 8, 2017 - Irish Independent)

"Here is what Jason Aldean said on October 7th on NBC's SNL: Jason Aldean told the whole world he and they need not back down in the face of inscrutable evil. Appearing on Saturday Night Live, the country music performer sang Tom Petty's hit song about defiance and courage. He preceded this with a brief but brave monologue on the importance of facing evil. Petty died this week also, of cardiac arrest after a brief hospitalization. He died on October 2, the day after the shooting, at age 66. Aldean cancelled several appearances following the October 1 shooting, calling on all Americans to 'Come together and stop the hate.' Here is what he said on October 7th on NBC's SNL: 'I'm Jason Aldean. This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. Like everyone, I'm struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal. So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends - they're all part of our family. So I want to say to them: We hurt for you and we hurt with you. But you can be sure we're going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way, because when America is at it's best, our bond and our spirit, it's unbreakable.' I Won't Back Down is the first single from Tom Petty's first solo album, Full Moon Fever released in 1989. The song was written by Petty and Jeff Lynne, his writing partner for the album. It reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Album Rock Tracks chart for five weeks, starting the album's road to multi-platinum status. A message of defiance against unnamed forces of difficulty and possibly oppression, the lyric is set against a mid-tempo beat: 'Well I know what's right, I got just one life, in a world that keeps on pushin' me around but I'll stand my ground, and I won't back down' Due to its themes, the song was played often on American radio following the September 11 attacks. Petty and the Heartbreakers played a quiet but resolute version of the song at the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon following the 2001 attacks. In the 2007 documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, Petty said that he felt some initial hesitation about releasing the song, given its clear and unabashed message. Aldean cancelled several appearances following the October 1 shooting, calling on all Americans to 'Come together and stop the hate.' George W. Bush used I Won't Back Down at campaign events during the 2000 presidential campaign but was compelled to stop using the song after receiving a cease and desist letter from Petty's publisher. Petty did not want the use of his song to be construed as an endorsement of candidate Bush. Jim Webb used the song for his successful bid for one of Virginia's U.S. Senate seats in 2006, as did Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign. The song was also used at campaign events for Congressman Ron Paul of Texas during the 2008 Republican presidential primary campaign, as well as for events for his Campaign for Liberty. The song was also played at an event for Republican Connecticut gubernatorial nominee, Tom Foley. The song was also played at the 2012 Democratic National Convention after speech delivered by President Bill Clinton, in which President Barack Obama came out on stage to salute him."
Stan Greene (October 8, 2017 - Santa Monica Observer)

"Petty inspired many songs, including Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks. Most recently, however, Petty received writing credits on Sam Smith’s song Stay With Me due to the song’s similarities to I Won’t Back Down. There have been multiple instances where the music of other artists has closely resembled Petty’s, simply because Petty’s music is so ubiquitous, and his influence on other artists and fans alike is immeasurable. Petty also never assumed ill-will from any of the artists, saying, 'All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen,' in a 2015 statement about Sam Smith’s song."
Nicole Johnson (October 9, 2017 - University of Denver's The Clarion)

"When Petty recorded his breakthrough solo effort Full Moon Fever, there was George [Harrison], strumming his acoustic guitar and singing backing vocals on Petty’s I Won’t Back Down, the song that emerged as his anthem of resilience for a new generation of music fans."
Ken Womack (October 10, 2017 - Huffington Post)

"The full weight [of Tom Petty's death] didn’t really hit me until I watched a video Sunday of country star Jason Aldean and his band perform Petty’s 1989 single, I Won’t Back Down, to open the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Aldean had been on stage when the shots rang out in Las Vegas. Understandably, Aldean’s voice wasn’t in top shape and the song choice was odd given the fact that the episode’s featured musical guest, Sam Smith, had been previously forced to give Petty and Jeff Lynne cowriting credits on his 2014 song Stay With Me for copying I Won’t Back Down. But in that moment I didn’t care about any of that. I’m not afraid to admit I teared up a bit for the first time since all that death. But I also smiled, too. Who else but Petty could have written a song that transcended genre, age, class, space and time to unite a grief-stricken nation? The only other artist I can think of would be Johnny Cash. (Not coincidentally, Cash also covered I Won’t Back Down with Petty on his 2000 album, American III: Solitary Man, and was accompanied by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on his 1996 album, Unchained.)"
Rob Burgess (October 11, 2017 - Kokomo Tribune)

"Running Down A Dream [sic], I Won’t Back Down,” and Free Fallin', remain radio staples to this day."
David Farr (October 12, 2017 - Sturgis Journal)

"Petty received a co-writing credit for Sam Smith’s hit ballad Stay With Me because it, um, sounds an awful lot like Petty’s I Won’t Back Down. The 2014 song sounds so much like Petty’s 1989 single that a judge actually ordered this to happen, though Petty was very understanding of the situation, writing in a statement on his website that it was a 'musical accident, no more, no less.'"
Irina Golzalez (October 17, 2018 - simplemost.com)

"In 1989, Tom Petty released his album, Full Moon River [sic] and with this album Petty was a global star. There is hardly anyone that has not heard Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down, perhaps even hummed along with Petty’s voice in the background. This was the album that had given some of the major hit songs in his career. [...] The song, I Won’t Back Down could easily be Petty’s personal anthem. Even through hard times in his life Petty never backed down. In 1979, when he had legal issues with his recording company he stopped the release of Damn the Torpedoes by announcing bankruptcy, till the company cleared the issue. For his next album, Hard Promises, his recording company was planning to raise the cost of albums, Petty was appalled by it, hence stood his ground by threatening not to release the album. The record company had to come around."
Kalyani Majumdar (October 22, 2017 - Free Press Journal website)

"[I Won't Back Down is #10 of Tom Petty's top 50 songs.] 'That song frightened me when I wrote it,' said Petty. 'There's not a hint of metaphor in this thing. It's just blatantly straightforward.' I Won't Back Down was written in the studio while Free Fallin' was being mixed. George Harrison, who performed background harmonies, told Petty that a line about 'standing on the edge of the world' was dumb, so he promptly replaced it with 'there ain't no easy way out.' 'I had a lot of second thoughts about recording that song,' said Petty. 'But everyone around me liked the song, and it turns out everyone was right.'"
Unknown (October, 2017 - Rolling Stone's Tom Petty: The Ultimate Guide)

"Seal has criticised Sam Smith for copying Tom Petty's Won't Back Down [sic] on his biggest single Stay With Me. The gospel-inspired ballad was released in 2014 and became a hit all over the world. Sam wrote the track with his frequent collaborator James Napier and William Phillips but the trio had to give the late Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne co-writer credits - a 12.5 per cent share of royalties - due to the song's similarity to Petty's 1989 single I Won't Back Down. Seal was asked by ShortList magazine to rate a handful of modern pop smashes from the current crop of British chart-toppers, including Smith, Rag 'N' Bone Man, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran and Adele. But the Kiss from a Rose singer gave a huge thumbs down to Sam for borrowing from Petty's track. Seal said: 'Well it wasn't even his song, was it? He got a slap on the wrist for it. We all have influences, but there are certain rules you follow. Do I like it? I like Tom Petty's song. That's all I say.'"
Unknown (November 2, 2017 - Shortlist)

"Featuring Free Fallin', Runnin' Down A Dream and I Won't Back Down, Full Moon Fever is perhaps the album most closely associated with Petty's enduring sound today. In fact, during the 2008 Super Bown halftime show performance, three-quarters of the songs performed were from this 1989 project."
Unknown (late 2017 -
Tom Petty Newsweek Special Commorative Edition)

"Sometimes, the connections between one person’s work and another’s are too close. Sam Smith’s 2014 song Stay With Me was deemed so close to Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne’s 1989 hit I Won’t Back Down that he agreed to share songwriting royalties with the two older musicians. ('A complete coincidence,' Smith’s spokespeople said at the time.)"
Daniel Grant (March 29, 2018 -
Observer website)


  • Running Time: 2:58
  • Record Date: 1988 or 1989
  • Record Location: MC Studios (Mike Campbell's garage), Los Angeles, California, USA and Rumbo Recorders, Canoga Park, California, USA or Sunset Sound, Hollywood, California, USA or Devonshire Studios, Los Angeles, California, USA or Conway Studios, Hollywood, California, USA or Sound City Studios, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Written By: Tom Petty & Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne w/ Tom Petty & Mike Campbell
  • Engineered By: Mike Campbell, Don Smith and Bill Bottrell
  • Performed By: Tom Petty (lead vocals, background vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitars, 6 & 12 string guitars, keyboards, tamborine), Mike Campbell (guitar, mandolin, bass, slide guitar, keyboards), Jeff Lynne (bass, guitar, keyboards, background vocals), Phil Jones (drums, percussion), George Harrison (acoustic guitar, background vocals), Howie Epstein (background vocals)

  • Released On:
    • Full Moon Fever LP album (1989 April 24 — USA — MCA MCA 6253)
    • Full Moon Fever CD album (1989 April 24 — USA — MCA MCAD 6253)
    • Full Moon Fever LP album (1989 — UK — MCA MCG 6034)
    • Full Moon Fever CD album (1989 — UK — MCA DMCG 6034)
    • I Won't Back Down 7" single (1989 — UK — MCA MCA 1334)
    • I Won't Back Down 7" single with 4 postcards (1989 — UK — MCA MCAB 1334)
    • I Won't Back Down 12" single (1989 — UK — MCA MCAT 1334)
    • I Won't Back Down 12" single with wall cover (1989 — UK — MCA WMCAT 1334)
    • I Won't Back Down CD single (1989 — UK — MCA DMCAT 1334)
    • I Won't Back Down 7" single (1989 May — USA — MCA MCA-53369)
    • I Won't Back Down cassette single (1989 May — USA — MCA MCAC-53369)
    • I Won't Back Down CD promo single (1989 May — USA — MCA CD45-17822)
    • A Bunch Of Videos And Some Other Stuff VHS videotape (1989 — UK — Channel 5 CFV 08742)
    • A Bunch Of Videos And Some Other Stuff VHS videotape (1989 — USA — MPI Entertainment MP 1668)
    • Full Moon Fever - The Videos VHS videotape (1990 — UK — MCA MCV 9006)
    • Full Moon Fever - The Videos VHS videotape (1990 — USA — MCA Music Video MCAV-85500)
    • Full Moon Fever - The Videos laserdisc (1992 — USA — Pioneer PA-92-454)
    • King's Highway CD single (1992 — UK — MCA MCSTD 1610)
    • Greatest Hits CD album (1993 — UK — MCA MCD10964)
    • Greatest Hits CD album (1993 November 1 — USA — MCA MCAD-10813)
    • Playback CD album (1995 November 20 — USA — MCA MCAD6-11375)
    • Playback VHS videotape (1995 November 20 — USA — MCA 008811136734)
    • Full Moon Fever gold CD album (1998 — USA — Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 735)
    • Anthology: Through The Years CD album (2000 — UK — MCA 1701772)
    • Anthology: Through The Years CD album (2000 October 31 — USA — MCA 088 170 177-2)
    • Playback DVD (2000 December 12 — USA — MCA 088 111 367-9)
    • Playback DVD (2001 July 23 — UK — Universal Island 1113679)
    • Greatest Hits CD album (2008 May 20 — USA — Geffen B001032702)
    • Greatest Hits CD album (2008 June 2 — UK — Universal 1774395)
    • The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991) LP box set album (2016 December 9 — Worldwide — Universal Music Enterprises 00602547952158)
    • Full Moon Fever LP album (2017 June 2 — Worldwide — UME B0024291-01)
    • The Best Of Everything - The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection 1976-2016 LP album (2019 March 1 — Worldwide — Geffen Records B0028984-01/060256793403)
    • The Best Of Everything - The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection 1976-2016 CD album (2019 March 1 — Worldwide — Geffen Records B0028986-02/00602567934394)
    • The Best Of Everything - The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection 1976-2016 digital album (2019 March 1 — Worldwide — Geffen Records 602577036279)

  • Top UK Chart Position: 28
  • Top US Chart Position: 12
  • Used in the Film or TV Program: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)
  • Cover Versions:
    • Pearl Jam during various live performances from 1993 and later
    • Unknown artist on the Pickin' On Petty: A Bluegrass Tribute To Tom Petty album (2000)
    • Johnny Cash on his American 3: Solitary Man album (2002)
    • Bon Jovi during live performances in 2005 and 2006
    • Where Beagles Dare on their website (2006)
    • Sam Elliot in the movie Barnyard - The Original Party Animals (2006)
    • Hillbillies of Cohesion during live performances (2017)
    • Jason Aldean during live performances (2017)