Nostalgia-Tinged Music Video For ‘Gainesville’ Shows Tom Petty’s Intersection With City’s Past


An alligator swims idly by, children play at Blue Springs State Park, a Sandhill Crane walks through Paynes Prairie and Spanish moss drapes from surrounding trees.

Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, their friends and other members of bands Mudcrutch and Road Turkey gather for a group photo at a party out on Hawthorne Road in 1973.

Along with vintage shots of Petty performing over the years with The Heartbreakers, there are also current views of landmarks such as Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida, Lillian’s Music Store, Sonny’s BBQ and the Petty murals painted around town.

Tuesday is the one-year anniversary of Petty’s death, and the official music video for “Gainesville” – part of his new “An American Treasure” box set – was released Monday.

Petty performed with bands around the area before moving to Los Angeles – and in 1976 joined with the Heartbreakers. The singer, songwriter and record producer was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Petty died in 2017 in Los Angeles a week after he and The Heartbreakers had just concluded a 40th anniversary tour. Fans will celebrate his birthday at two concerts this month in Gainesville, and the city will rename a municipal park in his honor.

The “Gainesville” video is the third from “An American Treasure.” Petty’s daughter, Adria Petty, told WUFT News recently that the video includes footage from “some places that were important to my dad and his childhood. Things that inspired songs like ‘Dreamville’ as well as some present-day images of Gainesville and its loving and appreciation for him.”

With “Sandy loading up the van” being the second line of the “Gainesville,” the video early on includes vintage scenes of an unidentified person throwing things into the back of a truck.

Noted photographer and director Brantley Gutierrez, who has worked with Paul McCartney as well as The Foo Fighters, led the video team that visited North Central Florida. Chris Nixon, a close Petty family friend, Jason Hedges, the Heavy Petty tribute band leader, were tour guides.

“It wasn’t anything glamorous,” Hedges said. “No big lights. Just one Super 8 camera.”

During a 45-minute drive to Blue Spring – where the shot of the children playing in the water was filmed – Gutierrez said to Hedges: “Where the hell are we going man? We’re in the middle of nowhere.” Hedges said he replied, “Welcome to the South.”

The film crew succeeded in resembling some of the vintage shots in the music video, with Petty and others playing guitar and telling stories on the wrap-around porch of an old rental house.

“Imagine when you first got to Gainesville,” Hedges said of taking the crew on the tour. “It was interesting, intriguing and comfortable. I got to show some out-of-towners a good time.”

Correction appended: A previous version of this story contained an editing error that stated Sandy Stringfellow is depicted loading a van, as stated in the lyrics of the song. Stringfellow is not depicted doing so in the song’s music video.

About Karina Elwood

Karina is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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