The Petty Archives

Editor's Note: The last two articles were only on the website; no scans.

  • 2007-10-10_Gainesville-Sun

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Petty odyssey on film in Gainesville
By Bill Dean
Gainesville Sun - October 10, 2007

Documentary follows Petty on 30-year-journey that begins here.
Tom Petty's 30-year road with rock 'n' roll road began in Gainesville and led to Los Angeles, with trips around the world and a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the way.

Now, the journey is accompanied by a travelogue in "Runnin' Down a Dream" -- Peter Bogdanovich's new documentary about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which will be seen by the public for the first time in New York on Sunday and screened in Gainesville for two nights only starting Monday. Both shows are sold out.

Bogdanovich, who directed such acclaimed films as "The Last Picture Show" (1971), "Paper Moon" (1973) and "Mask" (1985), spent two years making the film, which includes interviews not only with Petty and the Heartbreakers, but also with friends and family members, including Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks, Rick Rubin, Jeff Lynne and many others.

Along with such previously unreleased scenes, including 8 mm footage of the day Petty and the band left Gainesville for Los Angeles in a van, the four-hour documentary also includes scenes shot during the Heartbreakers' 30th anniversary concert at the O'Connell Center on Oct. 14.

Bogdanovich also visited Gainesville in making the film, and interviewed such area figures as Randall Marsh, a member of Petty's early Gainesville band Mudcrutch, and former Heartbreaker Stan Lynch.

After Sunday's world premiere at the New York Film Festival, the film will be screened on Monday in 25 cities -- with Gainesville the only city south of Memphis and the only city with a two-day run. 

Tom Petty's Hand Prints
By Barry Sides
Gainesville Sun - Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In my garage sits a 300-pound slab of cement. What makes this particular slab noteworthy is that there are five names scrawled on it. The five who inscribed their names in this little 300-pound piece of rock and roll history are; Tom Petty, Benmont Tench, Howie Epstein, Mike Campbell, and Stan Lynch.

My idea was a simple one. Pulling it off was not so simple. Back in 1991, I had the idea of putting together a kind of a Gainesville Walk of Fame. The basic idea was to get hand prints and signatures of the famed and infamous who had hailed from and/or who lived in Gainesville. There were many. Gainesville had two Eagles, Bernie Leadon and Don Felder. We had Bo Diddley,  and at that time we still had River Phoenix. We have had Stephen Stills, two members of the Motels, Jeff and Marty Jourard. There were others but who we really had at the top of our cities Who's Who list was Tom Petty and Heartbreakers - Stan Lynch, Benmont Tench, and Mike Campbell. In 1991 TP & the Heartbreakers were rock and roll royalty.

I contacted my friend Sadie Darnell who is Tom's first cousin. With Sadie's help the ball began to roll. I guess word got out about a Gainesville Walk of Fame and I received a letter from lawyers representing the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I was informed that I could not use "Walk of Fame" or, if I did, that I would be sued. I called them in LA and told them that that was great news as I felt the publicity would be great and would only help my project. I never heard from them again.

You can only imagine the hoops one would have to jump through in order to pull something like this off. Somehow I jumped through all the right hoops and on Saturday afternoon October 26th, just hours before their appearance here in Gainesville, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers strolled into a standing room only conference room at the University Center Hotel. The room was filled with Gainesville dignitaries, guests, family and media from all over the planet. Tom and the band were each given their Keys to the City, and proclamations were made.

Having never done a Walk of Fame, I had no idea how to do the cement slab. I hired a friend of mine who was in construction. He had told me it would be no problem. Easy as making cement, he had assured me.

When the time came, a giant slab of wet cement was rolled into the conference room. The band circled the slab. The band and I looked down at the cement slab and looked at each other with a "This doesn't look just right" kind of look. The slab of cement was actually a slab of construction concrete complete with rocks and gravel. It was also still rather wet - or wetter than it needed to be at that point. But, being that the six of us were in show business, well, we knew the show must go on. Tommy asked me what I wanted him to do. "Well, I guess you need to put your hands in it and then sign it," I said. He gave me a half smile half smirk and sank his hand into the wet concrete. The room filed with flash bulbs and applause but when he pulled his hands out the hand prints began to fill in with wet concrete. I received another priceless Petty look. "Now what" he asked. "Do it deeper and hold it longer", I said. At that point my old pal Stan Lynch elbows me and says, "Great advice Barry, this is going well, don't you think?" So Petty puts his hand back into the concrete, leans into it and hold his hands there for way longer than he had wanted to. And although not as pretty as the one in Hollywood it worked. I handed Tommy a stick to sign his name with, and the rest of the band followed. Although not perfect it was great promotion and I believe the band enjoyed it.

The night before the show started, I was sitting in the audience. Someone came up to me and said Tom wants to see you. I said Tom who? They said Tom Petty. I was taken backstage and to his dressing room. There I was, sitting with Tom Petty, his first wife Jane, and Stan Lynch. Tom said he wanted to thank me for what I had done and that it really meant a lot to him and the band. We talked a bit, took some pictures together and wished each other luck.

We never did do a Gainesville Walk of Fame. It became too political. Where to put it? Who pays for it? Plus, being that the slab was made from concrete and not smooth cement, as nice as it is it could look better. So it lives in my garage. It is my 300-pound piece of Rock and Roll history. The State of Florida borrowed it for several years for their 50 years of Florida Rock and Roll exhibit. They insured it for $10,000. Part of me wished they would have broken it as I could have used the money. But you just can't buy such great Rock and Roll memories. 

Petty's long-term impact
By Jennifer Tragash
Gainesville Sun - Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I was born at Alachua General Hospital in Gainesville in 1959. I grew up on NE 6th Terrace, where the Petty family lived for a while. I was in elementary school when Tom was in high school. I attended North Central Baptist Church, where Tom Petty's mother, Mrs. Kitty Petty, was one of my Sunday School teachers. I remember Mrs. Petty as a loving, kind, and patient woman and teacher. She gave me my first Bible.

One of my earliest memories related to Tom Petty involves the time that Tom's dad, Mr. Earl Petty built a cement structure in the backyard of the Petty's 6th Terrace home. At the time, my father thought that it was possibly a bomb shelter. However, it turned out that the structure was being used by Tom and his friends to practice music.

As I walked home from school one day, I could hear loud music coming from the Petty backyard. Later that night, my mother, who was at the time a very conservative and strict Baptist, instructed my sister and I to "walk on the other side of the street", because "who knows what is going on in that backyard with that older Petty boy and his music!". My mother seemed to fear at the time that her little girls might be "corrupted" in some way by rock and roll music. She also wondered why Tom was in the backyard playing music instead of going to school and she didn't like his long hair. My grandmother didn't think it was such a big deal....she didn't see the difference between what Tom was doing and what Elvis was doing.

Ironically, my mother loved Elvis Presley. My brother, who was 12 years older than I, would put me to sleep by rocking me to Elvis music. When I was ten years old, my parents and older brother took me to see my first (of three) Elvis concerts in Tampa for my birthday.

My mother's concerns about rock and roll went unfounded. As I grew older, I remember seeing one of Tom's bands, I think it was Mudcrutch, play at at Northeast Park just across from NE 6th Terr, and at Dub's, where I used a fake ID to get in to see the band play. From the day that my mom told me to stay away from "that boy and his music", I've been a Tom Petty fan.

Over the years, I've made sure that my own two boys were introduced to all of the "greats" including Elvis, Hank Williams, the Rolling Stones, and of course, Tom Petty. I've also made sure that music was an integral part of my children's lives and souls. My youngest son (nearly 18 now) is a long-haired, blond-headed musician who plays fiddle, acoustic, and electric guitar. My older son (now 20) played percussion and piano as a young boy. We still shop at Liphams for music and instruments.

One memory that I will always treasure is the "full circle" experience of attending the Tom Petty concert in Gainesville last year with my husband and two boys. Few artists can say that they have influenced multiple generations. I've never actually met Tom Petty, but I can say first hand, that Tom Petty has significantly impacted four generations (my grandmother, my mother, myself, and my children).

As a mom, I'm so happy that my children have always had music in their lives. I believe that music of all kinds provides spiritual nourishment to the soul. I think that Mrs. Petty would be very proud that her son, Tom, has provided such happiness to so many through his music.