Fans were shocked when rock superstar Tom Petty passed away at the age of 66 on Oct. 2. While his music epitomized California, the late singer is actually from Gainesville, Florida. Now fans in his hometown have started a petition to have a statue of the musical icon erected there.
“Tom Petty was the classic American song writer and deserves a statue built in his honor in his birthplace of Gainesville, Florida. His tragic death at the age of 66, following his triumphant final U.S. tour, has his fans in shock. This would be an appropriate way to celebrate and memorialize the influential, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician,” reads the petition on Care2 Petitions.
On Oct. 5., the petition had 6,166 signatures out of a stated goal of 7,000. The petition doesn’t include any details about where the monument would be erected or how it would be funded, so the signatures aren’t an indiction that plans will actually move forward at this point.
The proposed statue is not the only way that devotees of the prolific musician are seeking to memorialize him. On the famed SW 34th Street wall in Gainesville, a mural tribute to Petty appeared. The mural depicts a red heart with an arrow that is also a guitar, which is the logo of Petty’s band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It reads, “love you always.” At the bottom, it says, “Thanks Tommy” in red spray paint. Here is photo of the artistic tribute from a fan’s Instagram:
Petty attended Gainesville High, but eventually dropped out to form a band, Mudcrutch. He was a staple in the local Gainesville music scene and worked as a groundskeeper before landing a record deal and relocating to Los Angeles in 1974. He had just wrapped up a 40-year anniversary tour a week before his untimely death.
Despite becoming a famous rock star, Petty never forgot his Gainesville roots. This is what he told NPR’s Terry Gross in 2006 about his experience growing up in the southern college town.
“I was in the redneck, hillbilly part. 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. 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.”