Below is the full text of 2005 Century Award honoree Tom Petty’s acceptance speech and the introduction by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong at the Billboard Music Awards, Dec. 6 in Las Vegas.
Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong:
Hey. Hey. Hi, how are you doin’? I didn’t want to screw this up, so I wrote it down. And, here goes:
I love music, I love rock and roll, therefore I love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned from Tom Petty is that great songs never go out of style and live forever. Through the darkest ages of American radio, Tom Petty has been a beacon of light with songs like “American Girl,” “Even the Losers,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Free Fallin’,” “The Waiting,” “Running Down a Dream,” “Learning to Fly,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “You Got Lucky” and that barely scratches the surface.
Tom Petty has given us hope in music that reflects and challenges us to find some kind of deeper meaning in song. Tom Petty’s music is timeless, so watch this right now.
All right. So if you’re going to come up and thank God, thank God for Tom Petty. The Century Award goes to Tom Petty right now.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all. Woo. I’m so nervous.
The new year will bring in the 30th anniversary of the Heartbreakers and myself and I think before I go any further I should say I wouldn’t be up here tonight without my band, the Heartbreakers — especially Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, who I played with since I was a teenager. And we haven’t always been Boy Scouts, but we never lost sight of the music.
From time to time, I’m approached by strangers who say thanks for writing the soundtrack to my life and it makes me feel really honored that this music has lasted all this time and you still come out to see us and you still give us top 10 records and it means more to me than I can say.
I’ve had a large supporting cast through the years and I must thank them. The many great record producers, Denny Cordell, Jimmy Iovine, Jeff Lynne, Rick Rubin, George Drakoulis, and our manager since we started out, Tony Dimitriades and Mary Klauzer, our den mother. Our road crew all this time, Bugs Wydell, Jim Lenahan, Richard Fernandez, they’ve been there from the start. I’d also like to thank Warner Bros. Records.
And our truth has always been about the music. We never wanted to be in the gossip magazines and we never had an extreme interest in jewelry. It’s been my pleasure.
I have to say that the lion’s share of our success belongs to our fans. Every show has been a spiritual experience and I thank you for that.
Before I go, I must quickly thank my little family for loving me an supporting me all this time. My kids, Adria, Kim and Dylan, especially my wife Dana, who lives every minute of my life with me and is somehow still sane.
And of course I thank all of you at Billboard for giving me this award. I’ll endeavor to deserve it and may I remind you that this ain’t the end. I can still kick some ass. God bless you.