Remembering Tom Petty’s crazy, controversial ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ music video: ‘This one took the cake’

Remembering Tom Petty’s crazy, controversial ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ music video: ‘This one took the cake’

has to be a career high, if you can bring back cannibalism as a fad!’” Stein chuckles.” data-reactid=”18″>“Apparently, Tipper’s daughter saw that scene and freaked out — and then Mom started taking notice of what was going on, on MTV. And I’m not kidding: I was cited for promoting cannibalism by a parents/teachers group. I thought, ‘Well, this has to be a career high, if you can bring back cannibalism as a fad!’” Stein chuckles.

But Stein reveals that the cake scene could have been even more shocking. “We had put strawberry jam as a filling [in the cake], so when Tom was chopping it up, that kind of red strawberry sauce was going all over the place. It looked more like a slasher thing. But we weren’t going to include that in the final piece.” Still, he recalls that once the “bigwigs” at MTV saw the (preservatives-free) video, he received a concerned phone call. “I still remember his quote, which was: ‘Stein, you have our asses hanging out the window on this one.’” 

MTV still agreed to play the clip, and it was a huge hit; it was even nominated at that year’s MTV Music Video Awards for Video of the Year, Viewer’s Choice, and Best Direction, and it won for Best Special Effects. But one day, Stein saw the video on MTV and noticed that the network, unbeknownst to him, had made a surprising edit. 

Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ video. (Photo: MCA Records)

Los Angeles bakery Hansen’s, and they had no backup. “Normally, you would double something like that, but I think it was quite expensive, or [Hansen’s] couldn’t do more than one in the timeframe. … But we were highly trained professionals, especially in cake decimation,” Stein laughs. And yes, everyone got a piece of Alice (“the cast and crew all ate it up after we were done, so it added to craft services and our celebration”), a vanilla confection with the aforementioned secret “strawberry or raspberry filling, just to give it that little gore effect.” ” data-reactid=”42″>Incredibly, Stein and the band only had one chance to get that iconic scene right, as they’d ordered just one custom cake from the Los Angeles bakery Hansen’s, and they had no backup. “Normally, you would double something like that, but I think it was quite expensive, or [Hansen’s] couldn’t do more than one in the timeframe. … But we were highly trained professionals, especially in cake decimation,” Stein laughs. And yes, everyone got a piece of Alice (“the cast and crew all ate it up after we were done, so it added to craft services and our celebration”), a vanilla confection with the aforementioned secret “strawberry or raspberry filling, just to give it that little gore effect.” 

Dave Stewart in Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ video. (Photo: MCA Records)

Wish Foley in Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ video. (Photo: MCA Records)

Foley’s most challenging scene on the M.C. Escher-esque set was when she has to slosh around in a teacup, which Stein had built out of an above-ground children’s pool and filled with oversized sugar cubes made out “the green stuff they use at florists to stick flowers in,” painted white. (The giant donut was fashioned from an inner-tube.) “She was soaking wet. I actually tried to take care of her, and I asked for the water to be heated. I tried to heat the water, but by the time when we actually had to shoot that scene, it wasn’t as warm as I would’ve liked it to have been. It was quite cold, but she stayed in there. She was a trooper.”

Wish Foley in Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Come Around Here no More’ video. (Photo: MCA Records)

Thirty-five years later, Stein, whose long list of credits includes the Cars’ “You Might Think” (the Video of the Year winner at the first-ever VMAs ceremony in 1984), Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” and Warrant’s perhaps even more notorious (and also pastry-themed!) “Cherry Pie,” still says “Don’t Come Around Here No More” is his video of which he is the most proud. And he knows it made history, even it was controversial in ‘85. “The first time I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, there’s a long escalator to the second floor, through this enormous atrium. And when I got to the very top, in a plexiglass case, there was, the oversized top hat from the video, kind of as their showpiece at that time. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s incredible.’ But I probably should have saved it for myself.”

Tom Petty in “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” (Photo: MCA Records)

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