The same day that Tom Petty, a musical legend and Gainesville native, died, Jason Hedges found a puppy he wants to name “Tommy.”
Hedges took the labrador and pitbull mix dog to a mural that appeared Tuesday morning on the 34th Street Wall after Petty’s manager, Tony Dimitriades, announced his death Monday.
“Love you always, Gainesville No. 1 Son, Tom Petty,” the mural reads.
Early Monday morning in his Malibu home, Petty suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center. The 66-year-old singer could not be revived and died at 8:40 p.m. surrounded by loved ones, Dimitriades wrote in a statement posted on Petty’s website.
Petty is survived by his wife, Dana York; and two daughters, Adria and Kimberly Violette, according to ABC news.
To the world, Petty was a rock ‘n’ roll giant, but to Gainesville locals he was another hometown boy.
Petty’s roots run deep throughout the local community. Born and raised in Gainesville, Petty was a Gainesville High School alumnus. After catching his big break with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, he returned home in September of 2006 to play at the O’Connell Center. His hometown welcomed him back with open arms and a key to the city.
“He’s part of our town,” Hedges said. “The music sounds like Gainesville to me.”
Petty’s music was so influential to Hedges that he created Heavy Petty, a Tom Petty tribute band well-known around Gainesville. Although the band has been around for a little more than five years, it takes on a whole new meaning after Petty’s passing, he said.
Petty’s music resonates with so many, particularly in the Gainesville community, because his lyrics were real and honest, Hedges said.
“He wrote about things that were true to him, and that’s why people connect with it,” he said.
Samuel Lack has connected with Petty’s music since he was 7 years old.
The UF political science and economics senior said songs like “The Waiting” were the soundtrack of his life.
Lack remembers listening to Petty at Gator game tailgates at 10 years old while he tossed a football with his dad.
“It evokes these memories that will be hard to replace and hard to get over,” the 21-year-old said.
Petty’s music is reflective of the town that raised him, Lack said.
“Gainesville’s got such a unique atmosphere and such a unique character that I think Tom Petty personifies,” he said.
The influence is mutual, Lack said. Gainesville would not be the city it is without the life of Tom Petty.
“I think Gainesville has been shaped by him and the music,” he said.@jessica_giles_ [email protected]