Tom Petty said he was “downright stupid” to use the Confederate flag as the backdrop of his 1985 tour, a thing he said he has “always regretted.”
The 64-year-old musician used the flag for his song “Rebels,” which is about a man who blames the North for the “discomfort” in his life, but once fans started wearing Confederate flag bandanas to his concerts, Petty felt guilty.
“I then just let it get out of control as a marketing device for the record. It was dumb and it shouldn’t have happened,” Petty said during an interview with Rolling Stone.
“I felt stupid. If I had just been a little more observant about things going on around me, it wouldn’t have happened. I still feel bad about it. I’ve just always regretted it. I would never do anything to hurt someone.”
Petty, who supports removing the flag from state grounds, said he didn’t stop to think about what the flag meant.
“I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse, and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn’t give it much thought, though I should have.”
“People just need to think about how it looks to a black person. It’s just awful. It’s like how a swastika looks to a Jewish person. It just shouldn’t be on flagpoles.” (RELATED: Tom Petty Didn’t Write This Song But He’s Getting Paid For It Anyways)