…AND THEN THEY ARE SUED!
The rock world was stunned and shocked in 2016 when the art-rocker David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, and they were stunned and shocked again the following year when the roots-rocker Tom Petty died of an overdose at the age of 66. Both men left behind massive legacies and legions of distraught fans.
Now, though, the two dead legends have teamed up for a powerhouse new band—and not everyone is happy about it!
The men were not initially friends in the hereafter. At first, they kept their distance from each other. “I think there was mutual respect, sure,” said a dead rock critic who asked not to be named. “But they had such different approaches. Tom really depended on the band concept. Bowie formed bands but identified as a solo artist.”
The divergence in their musical styles also played a part. “Tom, when he was alive, went for a down-to-earth sound,” the critic said. “Or at least that’s the perception. In truth, he always had an eye on what was fashionable, which is why he gravitated toward producers and collaborators like Dave Stewart and Jeff Lynne. To quote one of his own song titles, he was a complex kid.”
“Bowie, on the other hand,” the critic continued, “could seem, to the uninitiated, like the triumph of style over substance. But beneath that exterior was an extremely serious musician as well-versed in some ways in the history of rock as anyone, including Petty.
One afternoon, the two dead rock stars found themselves in the same cafeteria on a Taco night. They began to talk and quickly bonded. “I was there, sitting at a nearby table, and I listened in,” the critic said. “Within a half-hour, they were trading licks. That’s what we call spontaneous musical ideas performed on guitar.”
The first posthumous collaboration was “Let’s Dance, Mary Jane,” a playful mashups of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” It dissolved into giggles in the cafeteria, with Bowie declaring it “bloody awful.” The two then booked time in one of the afterlife’s studios, and inspiration began to flow at once. “I befriended an engineer and hung out there,” the critic said. “I remember some of the song titles: ‘Saw Palmetto,’ ‘There Is No Love But What Is Lost,’ and ‘Sphere Time (Dance Craze).’ I tried to press my ear to the door and listen, which I think annoyed them.”
After a month of recording, the new supergroup announced plans for a special show. The only problem: they had no name for their band. “I think they knew it somehow had to combine their names,” the critic said. “The first idea, which they discussed in the rose garden when I happened to be within earshot, was Ziggy Stardust and the Spider From Gainesville, but Petty though that leaned too heavily toward Bowie. Bowie then suggested what he called a ‘formality reversal.’ In life, he always went by David and Petty always went by Tom. What if Bowie went casual and Tom went formal?” Petty evidently agreed by shrugging. The band’s name was set: DaveThomas.
That name didn’t sit well with the actual Dave Thomas, the fast-food entrepreneur and founder of Wendy’s, who arrived in the afterlife in 2002. Thomas sent a cease and desist letter to the two men. “It was one of those really pretentious ‘It has come to our attention’ things,” the critic said. “Tom crumpled it up, scowling, but Bowie actually picked it up and smoothed it out. ‘I love their fries,’ he said. ‘I dip them in a Frosty, which I also love. I cannot anger this man for fear of being banned from that fine establishment.’ I was there that time too. They were dressing at the gym.”
Stripped of its DaveThomas moniker, the band was forced to delay its debut performance and is reportedly considering other names, including Rebels Rebels, Major Tom, and Slipped On Stairs While Carrying Vegan Chinese Food. “I think that last one is a dig at me,” the critic said. “That’s how I died.”