Tom Petty was born and grew up in Gainesville, Florida. Even though he was long gone by the time I started at the University of Florida in 1985, the town still worshipped Tom and rightfully so. He was one of them. One of us.
I still remember the thrill of visiting Dub's, the bar where Mudcrutch (the previous incarnation of the Heartbreakers) played regularly in the '70s. By the mid-80s, Dub's was hanging on as best it could. It was a real hike - even by car - from the university part of town. And by then, it was best known for Miniskirt Contest Night. I was dragged there by my first roommate one week night. I didn't "get" the idea of a miniskirt contest. Who cares? I sat on the floor because all the tables were filled that night. And once the festivities started, I finally "got it." The miniskirt (and the rest of the clothing of the contestants) didn't stay on much beyond the first chorus of whatever song they were dancing to.
Tom would have loved it.
In 2006, Tom and his Heartbreakers returned to Gainesville to play a show on their 30th anniversary tour. It was recorded, and bits and pieces of it show up now on documentary Runnin' Down A Dream, which still plays today on Netflix. I found the full HD version of the concert on YouTube this morning, just hours after Tom's family confirmed his death late Monday night. Watch, listen and remember.