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Tom Petty Receives Posthumous Ph.D. for Music from the University of Florida

Escambia94

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The University of Florida has conferred an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy Music upon Hall of Famer Tom Petty.
The [University of Florida's] board of trustees unanimously voted to award Thomas Earl Petty a posthumous doctoral degree in music during a Friday meeting. Born and raised in Gainesville, Petty once worked as a groundskeeper at UF as he tried to make it in the music industry, but he was never enrolled.

 

DRU2012

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The University of Florida has conferred an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy Music upon Hall of Famer Tom Petty.


Personally, I LOVE this move on the part of the UF “powers-that-BE”!
Even back in the mid/late 70s when I got to Gainesville, one was immediately very aware of Petty’s de facto “relationship” with UF: He was still young, on his way UP into the more-rarified layers of “American Music Royalty” (“Break Down” was still his main big hit off his first breakthrough-album with the Heartbreakers when I got there—and it really wasn’t til I got up there and got myself registered and settled in that summer before starting as a Freshman (we were on the shorter “Quarter-System” back then, where you took more different courses over the years you were there, and the “terms” were over seemingly much more quickly—very much more a “Wam Bam Thankyou Ma’am!” approach, lemme tell ya!) the way it all came AT you those Freshman and Sophomore years...Personally, I liked it BETTER—overall it SUITED my more “frenetic”, “hit it all hard and fast”, write your finals, take a couple/few weeks off then “change everything, come back and do it all AGAIN”-nature that seemed TAILORED to MY personality!
Anyway, T.P. was a big deal to Gators, and by then still-recent memory and PRIDE to the local music scene as well!
Soon as I got there, I was AWARE of him and his music.
Since I supplemented my own income AND to a great extent “plugged in SOCIALLY” via playing with and moving in and AMONG that “local scene” myself (long time rhythm guitar player—hey, I really DID love it, and though maybe “JUST” a “fair” player in terms of skills, there was never any doubt about “how you best connected with all those young LADIES!”).
By my last year in G-ville (start of the 80s) he was a full-on major star and frontman—in fact came back on tour and played a huge, packed and triumphant show at the then-NEW O’Connel Center (instantly, inevitably christened “The CON-DOME” for its translucent white fabric cover), complete with guests such as Stevie Nicks coming onstage there and singing “Outsider” with him (one of those “hairs standing-on-back-of-neck” moments, btw), as well as some of his “earlier songs” he even-at-the-time admitted “not often covered live by us anymore”...all in all, a “special treat” for his “GATOR-return”...
WE WERE somehow “made aware of” his original band there in Gainesville, “Mud Crutch”—and in later years got back together with them and actually cut an album—-seemingly “spreading the wealth” a bit as much as anything else, I remember thinking at the time...
All quite RARE then, but something he returned to now and then in more recent years (including, for eg., in the case of pulling the Heartbreakers back together and having “the first team back together for one big comeback BLAST “LIVE IN GATORLAND”, an “online special” he did not so long ago back on the UF Campus—to great fanfare and public approval after a period of ill health, together they produced a tight, note-perfect show “One More Time BEFORE the End”!
And it was, IS, EXACTLY THAT!
 

Leakfan12

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Petty worked at UF for a time and Mike Campbell was a student there. I saw that G-Ville had a good music scene back in the day with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and some members of the Eagles. Also, I believe Petty's cousin was the sheriff for the county for a long time.
 

DRU2012

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Petty worked at UF for a time and Mike Campbell was a student there. I saw that G-Ville had a good music scene back in the day with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and some members of the Eagles. Also, I believe Petty's cousin was the sheriff for the county for a long time.
That “Gainesville music scene” had a history and “roots” that went back AT LEAST into the 60s...Maria Muldaur and a bunch of “late beat-scene”/“early-hippy artsy-types” and their musician friends steeped in folk and southern blues gave the school and town a low-key, oasis-like uniqueness, much of which somehow found its way eventually transferred to San Francisco’s blossoming as a high-profile center for experimental rock later that decade.
Each generation since has had its own “local heroes”, but the ones who left and broke through nationally during the 70s, emerging as the Eagles and Heartbreakers were and are the most famous and remarkable.
I could name some other decent hard-rockin’ bands that, but maybe for lack of their own songs, otherwise have been limited to mainly local attention and acclaim for a time before giving way (inevitably) to “the NEXT wave” (for eg., has anyone who didn’t live or go to school there in the late-70s-to-late-80s decade heard of “The Nancy Luca Band”?...and there are others...).
But this happens...Look “just up the road”, in UGA’s Athens, GA: There wasn’t much more than “some of those good local bands” BEFORE the sudden rise and emergence of B-52s, then R.E.M.—followed soon after by a return to the former status quo.
And so it goes. But TP is without a DOUBT “our favorite son”—the TOWN’s, certainly and originally—but soon after and ever more “OURS”: the GATORS’ !
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to somehow “look down” (lol—or how bout “be told by a time-traveler from the future”?) to see/hear a home crowd sing “Won’t Back Down” between the 3rd and 4th in the Twenty SECOND Century!
Happy and PROUD—but not “surprised”.
 

Leakfan12

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His Damn the Torpedos came at a time G-ville needed a lift. OK because the Gators team that year well sucked for lack of a better word. If watch his documentary of the challenges to get that album to the public was an adventure.
 

DRU2012

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His Damn the Torpedos came at a time G-ville needed a lift. OK because the Gators team that year well sucked for lack of a better word. If watch his documentary of the challenges to get that album to the public was an adventure.
Yes! I was AT UF year that “Damn The Torpedoes” was released; I can well attest to all you say here. Great album, and yes, especially timely for us then and there...Team hit one of its lowest points, but it was still a great time and place to be AT the University of Florida, and our team and program were ABOUT to turn it around—we still had fun at home games (there was little “on-the-line”: we EXPECTED a poor showing, so we all just drank, sang and had fun)...we didn’t know it, but very soon (in fact beginning the very next season) would come the start of a long, bumpy but generally UPWARD march for our whole program—towards Spurrier, and everything after (all the VERY high HIGHS AND low LOWS we’ve ridden through since!).
So when it comes to setbacks, as a Gator let’s just say I’ve had a certain sense of “PERSPECTIVE” ever since.
This being “Pearl Harbor Day”, perhaps it is fitting I refer to what it’s architect, Japan’s Admiral Isaroku Yamamoto said upon completion of that sneak-attack: “I fear all we have done is to have awakened the Sleeping Giant”...a similar warning is said to have been repeated among SEC Coaches about the Gators by the end of that same, winless season (1979, I believe it was...). And in time, in fact beginning the very next year that is exactly, steadily what came to pass.
We’ll be back—and if this hire turns out NEAR as well as a lot of our strongest and usually more realistic commentators and supporters out there are predicting, it WON’T be that long a process this time.
“Go GATORS!”
...WE “Won’t Back Down!”
 

Leakfan12

VIP Member
I know we talked about the Southern Accents a while back and that album's Saving Grace (later the title of a Tom Petty song) was "Don't Come Around Here No More" (a theme song of the last four head coaches for the Gators). It was originally for Stevie Nicks but Tom recorded it and Stevie let him have it.
 

Escambia94

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I know we talked about the Southern Accents a while back and that album's Saving Grace (later the title of a Tom Petty song) was "Don't Come Around Here No More" (a theme song of the last four head coaches for the Gators). It was originally for Stevie Nicks but Tom recorded it and Stevie let him have it.
I believe this was also the case for “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Insider”, with the former being released as a Stevie Nicks song and the latter as a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song.
 

Leakfan12

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I believe this was also the case for “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Insider”, with the former being released as a Stevie Nicks song and the latter as a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song.

Yeah though in Stop Draggin My Heart Around, the band performed her. Surprised it wasn't Stevie Nicks feat. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom and Mike Campbell wrote the song and jumpstarted her solo career.
 

DRU2012

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I know we talked about the Southern Accents a while back and that album's Saving Grace (later the title of a Tom Petty song) was "Don't Come Around Here No More" (a theme song of the last four head coaches for the Gators). It was originally for Stevie Nicks but Tom recorded it and Stevie let him have it.
I thought that was “Insider”, which Stevie came onstage and sang with TP and band when they played the Con-Dome in (I THINK it was) ‘81...That song contained the line, “And I’ve had to live, With some HARD PROMISES...” which in turn became the title of its own Album-name (the one the song APPEARED on), and somehow, somewhere in there Stevie realized that even though he had originally set out to write “Insider” for HER, when she heard it, and him singing it for her she supposedly “saw it and said immediately, ‘That is YOUR song, man—let’s do it together, but it’s gotta be a Tom Petty song!’...” or SOMETHING along those lines...I could be wrong, but that’s the way I remember hearing it.
“Southern Accents”, although songs eventually on it were already “taking shape” as part of what would be a VERY personal TP album (different, lower-selling than others, but one of my personal favorite albums—PERIOD), that album wouldn’t actually take full shape and/or be finished and released until more than TWO YEARS later.
I was privileged to be a participant in the production of TP’s live performance on the heals of Southern Accents’ release, when we shot him and the Heartbreakers doing the whole album LIVE on two successive nights at a packed The Wiltern Theater on the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles that year (again, I believe that was spring, 1984...but I am just grasping at memories and dates from basic memory—and know THAT can be somewhat LESS than “perfect”...so I apologize in advance, and concede my fallibility, if any of it proves to be faulty!
Anyway, it was an early, pre-internet example of “spread the word through fans ahead of time” that they could show up there on those nights, line up and get FREE TICKETS, “first come first served”—and it all worked OUT!!!
The CD is still out there For Sale, I’m sure. Should be possible to find and stream online, if you haven’t seen it; they were good, really tight performances to a loyal, enthusiastic audience of FANS, mostly California but from further afield too (we found out at the time that WE became involved that the band and their fan club had been planning this and spreading the word for many weeks—so that in the set-up shots outside the Wiltern, for example, when we went outside with handheld camera, panning the look of the crowd and (in a few cases) even asking attendees waiting-in-line a few questions, it turned out there were kids from all over, a certain amount even with that distinctly thick “North Florida-accent“ among a few (the same one I had to “tone down” when I got to Hollywood—in order not to be dismissed as “a hick”), along with a number of GATOR shirts, of course!
Among other things, it’s a snapshot of a particular time-and-place in a great band’s life...AND: In front of a VERY excited, very loyal and enthusiastic audience of TRUE FANS. I remember getting goose bumps at one point and telling one of the camera operators in front of me,
“This is like a cross between Gator-Growl and a Gator GAME in the student section!”
 

Escambia94

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“Southern Accents” was probably my favorite song living in Los Angeles. I do not normally have an accent, but when I am around Floridians it can come out randomly. I can imagine that Tom Petty had issues with that accent when he first moved to LA, but he probably missed Hogtown, Atlanta, and Orlando as much or more than I did.
 

DRU2012

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“Southern Accents” was probably my favorite song living in Los Angeles. I do not normally have an accent, but when I am around Floridians it can come out randomly. I can imagine that Tom Petty had issues with that accent when he first moved to LA, but he probably missed Hogtown, Atlanta, and Orlando as much or more than I did.
Again, you’ve “hit the nail on the head”, E—. As I mentioned myself, I too found I had to “tone mine down” my first few months in LA (at grad-school, and first jobs around Hollywood).
The song still aptly, stirringly sums up all my memories and deep feelings surrounding that part of the country (though we moved all over the place growing up, my grandparents lived there, it’s where we were often “packed off to” during moves, or more “chaotic” periods...and (especially after returning there to attend UF) it remains the closest thing to “HOME” in my heart even now.
 

Escambia94

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Again, you’ve “hit the nail on the head”, E—. As I mentioned myself, I too found I had to “tone mine down” my first few months in LA (at grad-school, and first jobs around Hollywood).
The song still aptly, stirringly sums up all my memories and deep feelings surrounding that part of the country (though we moved all over the place growing up, my grandparents lived there, it’s where we were often “packed off to” during moves, or more “chaotic” periods...and (especially after returning there to attend UF) it remains the closest thing to “HOME” in my heart even now.
Like you, I currently live halfway between Hollywood and Hogtown somewhere in the Lonestar State. Even in Texas a Southern Accent stands out. I encounter quite a few Gators out here and I miss Hogtown every time we get chatting about all the things that have changed.

If you ever go back to Hogtown, a lot has changed even since 2019. UF is investing hundreds of millions in upgrades on campus and around town. Celebration Pointe is a great place to just hang out. I happened to be at the Pointe for their opening Christmas celebration.

It’s great to be a Florida Gator!
 

DRU2012

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Like you, I currently live halfway between Hollywood and Hogtown somewhere in the Lonestar State. Even in Texas a Southern Accent stands out. I encounter quite a few Gators out here and I miss Hogtown every time we get chatting about all the things that have changed.

If you ever go back to Hogtown, a lot has changed even since 2019. UF is investing hundreds of millions in upgrades on campus and around town. Celebration Pointe is a great place to just hang out. I happened to be at the Pointe for their opening Christmas celebration.

It’s great to be a Florida Gator!
Thanks for the overview AND the “potential tips”, man...
(I just may hit you up for a few more if/when I DO make it back there, finally—as I in fact am AGAIN “determinedly”, if still somewhat vaguely planning on getting done (hopefully more than once—“sooner or later”!)
With Texas in the SEC, of course, the chance(s) to see them PLAY EACH OTHER has gone WAY up...but a trip like the one YOU just took would be IDEAL.
“Good ON ya, dudes!”, as the Aussies might say.
 

DRU2012

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...and BTW:
TP himself would no doubt be proud, but at the same time see a certain ironic humor in being awarded that “posthumous PhD”.
 

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