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Tom Petty: A tribute to a legend

Hannah McCleskey, Videographer and Staff Writer

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“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.” – Tom Petty.

Thomas Earl Petty was an American singer-song writer who was born in Gainesville, FL, on Oct. 20, 1950. He grew up having a close relationship with his mother, but had a father who was physically and verbally abusive. To escape he found refuge in music. His favorite musicians were the Beatles and Elvis. By high school Petty had grown an all-consuming passion for music, and he taught himself how to play guitar and soon played bass for a small local band called the “Epics.” At the age of 17 he dropped out of high school to play in a band called “Mudcrutch,” and they easily gained a local following.

The year 1974 played a huge part in Petty’s life. He married his girlfriend (Jane Benyo), moved to Los Angeles, and got a solo contract with a record company after his former band “Mudcrutch” disbanded. After multiple attempts to put together a new band, Petty reconnected with former bandmates Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (keyboard). The two were playing with bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch. Shortly thereafter, they restructured Petty’s deal with Shelter and signed a contract. Then “Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers” were born.

The band created hits like “Listen to Her Heart”,  “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Refugee”, and so many more, along with countless incredible albums. Petty was a person with enormous amounts of talent and heart. He touched the hearts of millions through his lyrics that managed to tell an amazing story each time he’d sing.

Sadly Tom Petty passed away Oct. 2, 2017, at the age of 66, due to cardiac arrest. He was taken to UCLA hospital where he peacefully died surrounded by family, friends, and bandmates. The world was shocked to hear about the loss of a legend.

I personally connected with my mom through his music, at a time when I felt like I couldn’t. This led me to other bands like Fleetwood Mac which helped me further a connection with both of my parents when I felt distant from them.

Petty said it best when referring to music as magic, “It moves, it heals, it communicates.” Thank you, Tom Petty, for your part in the magic; thank you for moving so many of us.

About the Writer
Hannah McCleskey, staff writer/videographer
Hannah is in her first year of Parnassus. She has been involved in French Club and the theatre department for four years. She is passionate about cats, sloths, fries, writing, and acting. After high school she plans to attend Ball State University; however, her major is undecided.
1 Comment

One Response to “Tom Petty: A tribute to a legend”

  1. Miranda McCleskey AKA Hannah's Momma on November 14th, 2017 2:55 pm

    That’s my kid!! I raised this kid to have some great taste in music!! Great story!!

    [Reply]

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