Gainesville native son Tom Petty–known by fans across the world as a trailblazing singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist–passed away yesterday at the age of 66–less than 3 weeks before he would have turned 67.
Petty’s Gainesville roots ran deep. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was born here in 1950, and would attend Gainesville High. But he really wanted to pursue music. So he dropped out of school and formed a band.
But before his big break came, Petty also worked as a groundskeeper at the University of Florida.
Later, Petty would front the Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers music group which would become an internationally acclaimed band.
In his career, he would sell more than 80 million records worldwide.
Tributes from fans and celebrities from across the globe were still pouring in across social media barely 24 hours after his death.
Closer to home, a mural in Petty’s honor was also painted overnight on the city’s 34th Street Mural, according to The Gainesville Sun.