Tom Petty’s music rocked a packed college football stadium as fans united to pay tribute to the late Florida native by singing one of his most beloved and famous songs. Between the third and fourth quarters of the Florida Gators game against the LSU Tigers on Saturday, fans in the packed Ben Hill Griffin Stadium paid tribute to Petty by singing his 1989 solo song, “I Won’t Back Down.” The stadium holds 90,000 fans and every one of them appeared to be singing the Tom Petty classic.
The Gators’ official account tweeted a video of the sing-a-long with the caption, “This One’s for you, @TomPetty.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the crowd’s singing was spontaneous as Tom Petty’s famous song blared from the stadium’s sound system during the second half of the game.
“Clearly every fan in the building knew every word,” Tiger Rag editor Cody Worsham told THR.
“I Won’t Back Down” was the first single from Tom Petty’s 1989 solo album, Full Moon Fever. Many fans are now petitioning for the song to be played at every Florida Gators game as a tribute to Florida’s native son. You can see a clip of the Florida Gators fans’ tribute to Tom Petty in the tweet below.
Tom Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, in 1950 and he has always stayed true to his Florida roots despite a move to California. According to CBS Sports, Tom worked as a groundskeeper at the University of Florida in Gainesville before his career as a rock star took off. A decade ago, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers even returned to Gainesville to celebrate a leg of the band’s 30th-anniversary tour at the University of Florida homecoming. At the time, Petty said it was “incredible” to be back to his hometown.
“Just incredible. Everywhere I look around here, there are a lot of memories,” Petty said in a 2006 pre-concert press conference.
Tom Petty previously told NPR that while growing up in Florida he wasn’t part of the college scene, the university enabled him to meet many people.
“I wasn’t part of the academic circle, but it’s an interesting place because you can meet almost any kind of person from many walks of life because of the university,” Tom Petty said. “But it’s really surrounded by this kind of very rural kind of people that are — you know, they’re farmers or tractor drivers or just all kinds of — game wardens, you name it. So it’s an interesting blend.”
Tom Petty died suddenly last week of cardiac arrest after collapsing at his Malibu home. Petty was 66-years-old. Tributes to the late Heartbreakers frontman have been pouring in as music—and now, football—fans say goodbye to the music legend.
[Featured Image by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP]