Tom Petty’s death has rocked the entire music world, but the city of Gainesville, Florida, feels the loss of the legendary rocker in a special way. Petty was born in the Florida city in 1950, so the death of the hometown son has officials planning a special memorial in his honor.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe is calling upon citizens of Gainesville to come up with a unique concept to honor Tom Petty. The mayor told TMZ that he is putting together a proposal to honor the city’s hometown hero. But Poe, who like Petty, attended Gainesville High School, said he is looking for something more than a Tom Petty street sign or a “Tom Petty Day.” The mayor will need to get approval from the city for a Tom Petty memorial, but he says he is hoping to come up with something recurring and interactive, like an annual gathering for Petty’s fans that would double as a memorial.
Once he became famous, Tom Petty lived his life on the West Coast, but he never forgot his Florida roots. Ten years ago, Petty even made a pitstop in his Gainesville hometown to play at the University of Florida’s homecoming as part of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 30th-anniversary tour.
Tom Petty once told NPR that growing up in the college town enabled him to cross paths with a diverse variety of people.
“[Gainesville] is an interesting place because you can meet almost any kind of person from many walks of life because of the university,” Tom told NPR. “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.”
Memorial service and funeral arrangements for Tom Petty have not yet been announced to the public, but tributes to the late star have been pouring in as fellow musicians continue to cover Tom’s vast library of music. At the most recent Florida Gators football game held in Gainesville, 90,000 fans sang along to Tom Petty’s 1989 solo classic “I Won’t Back Down” as the song blared from the stadium’s sound system.
Tom Petty died last week at age 66 after suffering cardiac arrest while at his home in Malibu, but an autopsy is reportedly still being performed on the music legend. Tom Petty would have turned 67 on October 20.
Take a look at the video below to see Tom Petty giving MTV viewers a tour of his Gainesville hometown.
[Featured Image by Jason DeCrow/AP Images]