Veteran rocker TOM PETTY still regrets not being able to attend his mother's funeral in 1981, but accepts his presence would have turned the sad service into an autograph-hunter frenzy.

The FREE FALLIN' star was so famous at the time that it was decided it would be impractical for him to return to his hometown of Gainesville, Florida, to pay his respects to his mother.

He says, "We knew it would cause a horrible commotion. My brother actually suggested that it probably wouldn't be a good idea, because even to this day my family, when I go there, they just get cuckoo.

"What we didn't want was for it to turn into an autograph fest and the Instamatics (cameras) come out when it wasn't about that.