Sam Jones/Warner Bros. RecordsTom Petty regrets having featured the Confederate flag on a past tour, calling it “downright stupid.”

Petty shared his thoughts on the subject with Rolling Stone after the Confederate flag was removed from the South Carolina statehouse last week.

He recalled, “In 1985, I released an album called Southern Accents. It began as a concept record about the South, but the concept part slipped away probably 70 percent or so into the album. I just let it go, but the Confederate flag became part of the marketing for the tour. I wish I had given it more thought. It was a downright stupid thing to do.”

Petty said he used the flag on stage while performing the Southern Accents track “Rebels” as a way to illustrate the song’s theme — a character who “still blames the North for the discomfort of his life,” in the rocker’s words.

“When we toured two years later, I noticed people in the audience wearing Confederate flag bandanas and things like that,” he continued. “One night, someone threw one onstage. I stopped everything and gave a speech about it. I said, ‘Look, this was to illustrate a character. This is not who we are. Having gone through this, I would prefer it if no one would ever bring a Confederate flag to our shows again because this isn’t who we are.'”

Petty said the comment was met with mixed reaction, but noted that he never saw a flag brought to one of his concerts again.

“Fortunately, that went away, but it left me feeling stupid,” Petty said. “That’s the word I can use. I felt stupid. If I had just been a little more observant about things going on around me, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Petty calls the removal of the flag from the South Carolina statehouse the “right decision,” declaring, “That flag shouldn’t have any part in our government. It shouldn’t represent us in any way. The war is over.”

He added, “That Southern pride gets transferred from generation to generation. I’m sure that a lot of people that applaud it don’t mean it in a racial way. But again, I have to give them, as I do myself, a ‘stupid’ mark.”

Petty concludes in part by stating, “The way we’re losing black men and citizens in general is horrific. What’s going on in society is unforgivable. As a country, we should be more concerned with why the police are getting away with targeting black men and killing them for no reason. That’s a bigger issue than the flag.”

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