Singer Tom Petty mourned in hometown of Gainesville

Posted at 5:49 PM, Oct 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 04:44:55-04

The city of Gainesville is remembering music legend and native son Tom Petty after his death Monday.

There is a mural along SW 34th Street near the University of Florida campus that is constantly changing.

On Tuesday, one section of wall was painted as a tribute to Tom Petty, calling him Gainesville's No. 1 son.  

Petty led the Heartbreakers into the city in 2006 when they performed as part of their 30th-anniversary tour.

“Tom Petty is quintessentially Gainesville," said former mayor Pegeen Hanrahan.  She was a big Tom Petty fan growing up and had the chance to meet him in person.

“For me, this will always be one of the highlights of my life, not just as mayor," said Hanrahan.

The Heartbreakers played the O-Dome on the University of Florida campus; the band coming full circle.

“He doesn’t come across as a huge rock star, none of the Heartbreakers do either," said Hanrahan.

Even though she didn’t know him well, in a small town like Gainesville, Hanrahan said there’s only a few degrees of separation between you and someone who knew Petty well. "It’s almost like losing a family member someone you felt you had a connection to.”

Petty left for California in 1974 but you can still find pictures of his youth at the Matheson Library and Archives along University Avenue. 

During his sophomore and junior years, he went by Tommy Petty.  That 1967 edition of the Hurricane also showing him in a band called the Epics.  In 1968, his senior year, he went by Tom but dropped out before graduation to pursue a career in music. 

“That music will be popular 200 years from now I feel.  It’s part of that great rock and roll genre that will live on well beyond him," said Hanrahan.

Hanrahan says one of her biggest regrets as mayor is that she didn't create some sort of honor of Petty who was such a big part of the culture of this city.

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