Gainesville Native, Rock Star Tom Petty Remembered


Eighteen Grammy nominations, 16 albums, three Grammy wins, a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, keys to his hometown, an induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a countless number of lives influenced greatly by his music – these are the legacies Tom Petty has left behind after his untimely death on Monday.

In this Oct. 2, 2007 file photo, singer Tom Petty arrives at the world premiere of the documentary “Runnin’ Down a Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers” in Burbank, Calif. Petty has died at age 66. Spokeswoman Carla Sacks says Petty died Monday night, Oct. 2, 2017, at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after he suffered cardiac arrest. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Born Oct. 20, 1950 in Gainesville, he achieved fame with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, his band that later received international success. Before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, he performed with his first band, the Sundowners, around the area.

In September 2006, Petty visited his hometown to perform for the first time in 13 years as part of his band’s “Highway Companion” 30th anniversary tour.

In this March 18, 2002 file photo, Tom Petty, of the band Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers, speaks after being inducted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

He was given a University of Florida Distinguished Achievement Award, an award for individuals with exceptional accomplishments in a chosen profession.

His band was also presented with keys to the city by former Gainesville mayor Pegeen Hanrahan.

Former first lady of UF, Chris Machen, introduced the award to Petty.

“In special recognition of your significant contributions to American music as a songwriter, performer and producer, your selfless participation and efforts to provide hunger relief in Africa, fight against aids, assist struggling American farmers and support the families of those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11,” Machen read. “As well as the distinction you have brought to your hometown of Gainesville, the University of Florida has the honor and privilege to confer upon you the Distinguished Achievement Award.”

The 66-year-old was found unconscious in his home Monday night and was rushed to UCLA Medical Center.

“We are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty,” Petty’s manager Tony Dimitriades said in a statement. “He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

About Kayla Ziadie

Kayla Ziadie is a reporter for WUFT News. Follow her on Twitter, @KaylaZiadie.

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