Tom Petty's neighborhood in Florida will finally get a historical marker

Petty died in October 2017, a week after the completion of a Heartbreakers' 40th anniversary tour.

click to enlarge Tom Petty playing Amelie Arena in Tampa on May 6, 2017 - Photo by Chris Rodriguez
Photo by Chris Rodriguez
Tom Petty playing Amelie Arena in Tampa on May 6, 2017

In a great big world with lots of places to run to, the Florida Historical Marker Council agreed Friday that one of those spots should be in the hometown of the late Gainesville rocker Tom Petty.

The three-member council completed the final editing of a two-sided marker that is expected to be placed this fall in the “Duckpond” neighborhood where the singer-songwriter, who died nearly two years ago, grew up.

Melanie Barr, the president of the Duckpond Neighborhood Association and the applicant for the historical marker, called the editing “perfect” and invited council members to attend an unveiling Oct. 20 at an event marking what would have been Petty’s 69th birthday.

“It’s going to be hundreds of people coming from all over the world,” said Barr, who participated in the meeting by telephone. “Tom Petty Nation, look on Facebook, you’ll see us.”

The cost of the marker --- $2,300 for up to 1,235 characters per side --- is the responsibility of the sponsor.

Side one of the planned decorative marker gives a brief recap of Petty’s early life, including his musical influences. The second side outlines his life, starting with the formation of his band the Heartbreakers in 1975.

Petty died in October 2017, a week after the completion of a Heartbreakers' 40th anniversary tour. His death was ruled an accidental overdose as a result of mixing prescription drugs, including pain killers. He was 66.

Petty’s lengthy discography includes a string of songs that topped the rock charts, including “The Waiting,” “You Got Lucky,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Running Down a Dream,” “Free Fallin’,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels.”

The marker is the second effort at the state level to honor Petty, who also performed with legendary musicians Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne as the Traveling Wilburys.

State Sen. Keith Perry, a Republican from Gainesville, tried unsuccessfully to name a portion of U.S. 441 in Alachua County after Petty, following the iconic rocker's 2017 death. 

Petty called out the highway in the hit song "American Girl," noting “she could hear the cars roll by, out on 441, like waves crashin' on the beach.”

Petty was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and reminisced the same year about his hometown --- where “all the trees were green” and “the air smelled good” --- in a song called “Dreamville.”

“Ridin' with my mama, to Glen Spring's pool. The water was cold. My lips were blue,” Petty wrote. “There was rock and roll across the dial. When I think of her, it makes me smile.”

Follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter to get the most up-to-date news + views. Subscribe to our newsletter, too.

Scroll to read more Music News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]