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  • Tom Petty purchased the car he had always wanted as a child when he became famous.
  • Tom Petty thought he saw a UFO while driving his car in Malibu.
  • He stopped driving, though not because of the UFO-related incident.
Tom Petty wears sunglasses and a vest and sits on a bus.
Tom Petty | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

Tom Petty and his wife were driving their car near their home in Malibu when they saw something that defied logic. Floating in the sky ahead of him were huge silver shapes that the musician immediately assumed were UFOs. He was so stunned that he made a sharp turn to get a better look at the objects. Unfortunately, he smashed into someone else’s car in the process. As it turned out, the floating silver objects were not alien aircrafts. Instead, they were in place for Adam Sandler’s wedding. 

Tom Petty drove the car he always wanted as a kid

After over a decade as a famous name in the music industry, Petty could afford the things he had only dreamed about as a child. He did exactly this when buying a black Corvette Stingray. It was the car he wanted in 1965, when he was a 15-year-old living in Gainesville, Florida. 

While he was a big fan of the car, he didn’t like all of its features. His manager asked that he install a car phone, which Petty found embarrassing. 

“My manager said I should have one, but I don’t know,” he told Spin in 1989, per The Petty Archives. “I’d be so embarrassed if someone I knew saw me talking on it. I mean, what am I gonna do, call my wife and tell her I’ll be home as soon as the light turns green?”

Tom Petty crashed his car after seeing silver balloons

In 2003, Petty and his wife Dana were driving in Malibu when Petty saw large silver objects in the sky.

“I was driving to the store and I saw these big silver balls floating in the air,” he told Men’s Journal. “And I thought, ‘Oh, f***! UFOs are landing in Malibu!’ I’m not normally the kind of person who would think that. But that’s what the f*** it looked like.”

He made a quick turn to get a better view of the objects. This turned out to be a bad idea.

“The next thing I know, bam! I hit the car next to me, spun off the road … and landed in a nest of about 200 paparazzi.”

The paparazzi were there because Sandler was getting married nearby. As Petty later learned, the silver objects were weather balloons in place to block helicopters from flying over the ceremony.

“So later I had to watch the whole crash on television,” Petty explained. “Because they were filming everyone coming down the hill.”

He stopped driving for a different reason

When explaining this incident to Men’s Journal in 2015, Petty said that he hadn’t driven in years.

“I haven’t driven in over a decade,” he said. “I’m too spaced out.”


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As it turns out, though, he didn’t stop because of the crash outside Sandler’s wedding, but because of something that happened later that day. 

“Later that night we went somewhere else, and I backed up and hit the car behind me,” he said. “I’ve been a passenger ever since.”