Native Son, Tom Petty

The glue that binds everyone from Gainesville

A mural dedicated to Tom Petty appeared on the 34th Street Wall in Gainesville following the death of the musician, Oct 2017. Photo by Taylour Marks / Alligator Staff

Gainesville Music

One of the great things about living in a college town was the array of free concerts that would show up at the bandshell by Lake Alice. If the band was really big, they’d play at Florida Field. I wasn’t a big Tom Petty fan when I got to GHS. When my high school paper had an article on the musicians who were GHS alums, Tom Petty (class of ’68) was just the most recent: There were a couple members of The Eagles who I didn’t know by name. I was more impressed that Steven Stills had graduated in ’65.

A City Mourns

In October 2017 I was visiting my mom, and I landed in Gainesville the weekend after Petty had suddenly died. The city was in mourning, and I felt a heavy melancholy that trip. He was always a source of pride for Gainesville; over my short visit I was surprised to see the extent of the local response: there were proposals to rename parks and streets, and murals were already painted along University Avenue. From the news:

To me, Tom Petty feels like the glue that binds all people from Gainesville together. He’s like a secret we all share. Even though I didn’t get into his music until college, it became something that I felt I really understood, just because of his Gainesville roots.

When he died, I felt it very deeply and personally. I think a lot of people did. It still makes me feel sad and nostalgic when I think about him.

A Gainesville tradition begins…

Living a creative life, a student of high magic, and hopefully growing wiser as I age. • Ex-Lucasfilm, Netflix, Adobe. • Here are my stories and photos.

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