A Florida Son

Tom Petty Leaves Us With A Legacy of Music

(October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017)


Thomas Earl Petty was born October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida, the first of two sons of Kitty (Avery) and Earl Petty. As a young man, Petty worked with the grounds crew for the University of Florida, but never attended as a student. An Ogeechee lime tree that he purportedly planted while employed at the university is now called the Tom Petty tree.

It was his Gainesville years that cemented Tom Petty’s love for music. In Gainesville, Petty started a band known as the Epics, later to evolve into Mudcrutch.

Although the band, which featured future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, were popular in Gainesville, their recordings went unnoticed by a mainstream audience. Petty and Campbell would later collaborate with Tench and fellow members Ron Blair and Stan Lynch, resulting in the first lineup of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Petty was found unconscious at his home, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest, early in the morning of Monday, October 2, 2017. He was taken to the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, where he died at 8:40 pm PDT that evening.

Tom Petty was the voice of multiple generations. His songs were the background to our childhoods, friendships, relationships, growing up and growing pains. His lyrics kept many of us from feeling alone, and his notes aligned with our shared heartbeats.

Here is a list of Tom Petty songs for every situation and cornerstone in life…