The Last DJ (song)

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"The Last DJ"
TP Last DJ promo.png
Single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
from the album The Last DJ
Released September 23, 2002 (2002-09-23)
Genre Rock
Length 3:31
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Tom Petty
Producer(s) George Drakoulias, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers singles chronology
"Room at the Top"
"The Last DJ"
"Good Enough"

"Room at the Top"
"The Last DJ"
"Good Enough"
Tom Petty singles chronology
(1999) Swingin'1999
The Last DJ
(2002) String Module Error: Match not found2002
Saving Grace
(2006) Saving Grace2006

"The Last DJ" is the title of a song written by Tom Petty and recorded by American rock band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was released in September 2002 as the lead single from their album of the same name. The song had moderate success, reaching number 22 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks list in 2002.

Background and writing[edit]

Petty told Mojo magazine that, in the song, "Radio was just a metaphor. ‘The Last DJ’ was really about losing our moral compass, our moral center."

The line "How much you'll pay for what you used to get for free" was used shortly before the previously free Fan Club site was changed to require a $50 fee.[1] Petty told Jim DeRogatis that the song is a story "about a D.J. in Jacksonville, Florida, who became so frustrated with his inability to play what he wants that he moves to Mexico and gets his freedom back. The song is sung by a narrator who's a fan of this D.J." [2]


The song was banned by many stations owned by Clear Channel Communications for being "anti-radio."[3] "I was elated when my song was banned," Petty told Billboard. "I remember when the radio meant something. We enjoyed the people who were on it, even if we hated them. They had personalities. They were people of taste, who we trusted. And I see that vanishing."[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Billboard's Chuck Taylor called it "the most inspiring song in years from a man who has pretty much seen it all."[5]

In popular culture[edit]

In the Simpsons episode "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation", Homer receives songwriting lessons from Tom Petty. In the original airing, "The Last DJ" can be heard playing on a radio in the final scene. The song was changed for syndication.


Chart (2002) Peak
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 22[citation needed]


  1. ^ The Last DJ Songfacts
  2. ^ Damn the Torpedoes
  3. ^ LA Times: Tom Petty banned
  4. ^ Quoted in "I won't back down"; Classic Rock #48, Christmas 2002
  5. ^ Billboard, September 28, 2002

External links[edit]