Florida Grown: Rock Legend Tom Petty Passes

INGLEWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 10: Tom Petty of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers performs onstage at The Forum on October 10, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images)

UPDATED: It is now being reported that while Petty has not yet passed, he is expected to pass sometime tonight, bar a miracle. He has a do not resuscitate, positive vibes to Petty and his family.

Petty always exemplified the concept of true freedom in his music, and everybody loved it.

By Patrick Jude

Today is a sad day. The horrific shooting during a Jason Aldean performance in Las Vegas has rattled each and every fiber of our country. Unfortunately we as a nation have lost our ability to grieve and, like everything else, we have rushed to politicize it.

I have an opinion on the matter, but wish to offer nothing other than my unwavering condolences to those affected, and their families. In the midst of it all, however, Florida has lost a musical legend – The great Tom Petty.

Late last night, Petty was rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital after being found unconscious and in full cardiac arrest. After hours of being on life support, the situation was helpless and the 66-year-old Rock n Roller officially made his way to the great gig in the sky.

Petty was born in Gainesville and, while working as a groundskeeper at the University of Florida, played the local bars by night. After a string of hits including “American Girl”, “Breakdown”, and “Refugee”, Petty, and his Heartbreakers band, became some of the biggest rock stars in the country.

Petty was also a member of Folk super group The Traveling Wilburys, alongside an all-star list including Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne.

Petty transcended generations. While I’m only 25, the farewell posts from peers are rolling in on Facebook – and who can blame them? Petty always exemplified the concept of true freedom in his music, and everybody loved it. His loud Rickenbacker guitar, with the high end gain pumped up, could make anyone want to drive away from their day to day and into the crisp wind of a sundown highway ride.

I’ll never forget riding on the back streets of Chuluota, in my high-school buddies Ford Taurus, windows down, Petty up, smoke blowing out, and though it was simple nothing felt more right. No soundtrack could be more appropriate.

Musicians spanning across all genres have begun pouring out their condolences, as well as their thanks to the very influential musician. Above all of the musical contributions, Petty was a well-known “nice guy” who never lost touch with his humble Florida roots. His instantly recognizable voice will undoubtedly be heard for years to come.

For the time being, the man who once toured the world with The Heartbreakers has left the world with an extra touch of heartbreak on an already bleak day.

It’s been a long day. Go take that highway drive, windows down…Petty up.


Born and raised in Orlando, and Socialist to the core, Patrick Jude graduated from The University Of Central Florida in 2015. He currently holds a B.A. in English Literature, as well as an A.A. in Jazz Performance from Valencia College. Jude is heavily tattooed, abstains from alcohol and is an avid Packers fan.