Tom Petty and the night of short mini-skirts
When it comes to Tom Petty, I've actually been to the holy ground upon which he began his music career. Petty is a Gainesville, Fla., native. His first band, Mudcrutch, made a living playing gigs around the university town, including their home-away-from-home -- Dub's, a bar on the city outskirts.
Back in 1985, I was a freshman at the University of Florida and first heard of Dub's. By then, Petty's fame had led him to L.A., and Dub's current fame was equally alluring: It was the only bar in town that hosted a short mini-skirt contest on Thursday nights. The attraction was that the skirt was the only thing contestants had to wear (and even that was shed in the first 10 seconds of any song). The bar was notoriously lax on checking ID's, so even though I was only 18, I was able to get in and be served.
I'm not going to say that the aura of Petty's legacy still hung thick in the building. To be honest, I was more focused on the current night's entertainment. But still, one generous bartender there was intent on educating us punk kids on Petty's place in Gainesville history. And in time, we took timeout to soak in the atmosphere as he spun a few good yarns about the guy.
Alas, Dub's is gone now. The building remains, but the old owners are long gone. Petty, who turns 57 years old Saturday, is still going strong -- much to my delight ... and anyone else who caught Short Mini-Skirt Night at Dub's.
TOP 5 SONGS FROM TOM PETTY DURING THE 80s:
5. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around (with Stevie Nicks): "I know you really want to tell me goodbye."
4. Don't Come Around Here No More: "You tangle my emotions."
3. Free Fallin': "All the good girls are home with broken hearts."
2. You Got Lucky: "Girl, if you can do better than me, go..."
1. The Waiting: "Baby, you're the only one that's ever known how to make me wanna live like I wanna live now."
MORE TOM PETTY: Remember when music videos were truly an artform? You can thank Tom Petty for some of that. His videos were epic, including my personal favorite from the early 80s -- You Got Lucky. But this clip of Weird Al Yankovic interviewing Petty is also a must-see.
[Publicity photo; Times files]