About 20 years ago, when my parents lived in Arizona, they saw the movie “She’s the One” starring Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz. At the movie my parents saw this guy dressed in wacky 90s rock and roll bad boy clothing and said surprisingly loud, “Who’s the guy who thinks he’s Tom Petty?” My dad turns to my mom and said begrudgingly, “Um…that is Tom Petty.” My mom claims she saw Petty laugh. Petty apparently did the soundtrack for the movie and lived in Scottsdale. To this day, it’s become an inside joke in my family,, and on my way home from school from wrestling workouts yesterday, I said to my mom the infamous quote she said to my dad back in 1996.
I was introduced to Petty at a young age, as my parents would put on “Free Fallin’” and we’d sing along to it in the car. Later I would listen to his other popular songs such as “Won’t Back Down” and “Refugee,” which is my favorite song.
I heard the news that Petty died at around 4:00 p.m. on Monday at workouts while listening to 99.5 on the radio. When I heard this news, I was crushed for the rest of the day, even when I found out that he wasn’t completely dead and was clinging to life, and it didn’t help when celebrities and some of my friends posted photos of Petty saying how great an artist he was.
I found out that Petty died a little before midnight when I woke up Tuesday morning. I think finding out this news gave me a little closure because I had the rest of the evening to reflect on his music, but it didn’t mean that I didn’t miss the guy who gave me childhood memories of us singing in the car to “Free Fallin’” or when I was a teen singing to “Refugee” with my dad when it came on the radio.
Petty has been an inspiration to me and my songwriting over the years, and to many of my friends who play guitar, especially in songs like “Last Dance of Mary Jane.”
I hope that many of the people affected by Petty’s death such as friends, family and fans like myself can move on and appreciate the accomplishments over his career.
RIP Tom Petty. The music world will miss you.