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On This Day 1981: Tom Petty battles the record industry with "Hard Promises" and wins

album artwork

It was 40 years ago today that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers released their fourth album “Hard Promises”. In a controversial battle with MCA, his record label at the time, he fought to keep “superstar-pricing”, raising the list price from the standard $8.98, the standard at the time, to $9.98. Petty considered it price-gouging and even threatened to not turn the album over to MCA.

Even after winning the battle with the label, Tom considered calling the album “$8.98”. Instead he chose album artwork that shows him in a record store in front bins of albums priced at…. $8.98. The album was quite successful thanks to a number of tracks, including “The Waiting” and “The Insider” featuring Stevie Nicks.


John is the mid-morning host on WFPK. Email John at jtimmons@lpm.org

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