When a celebrity passes, if I had met them or had any interactions with them, I always feel compelled to post some recollections of them. This is not to brag that I knew them, but rather to share some personal thoughts. When my brother Ed sent me a text saying that Tom Petty had passed, I immediately thought of how much he supported a few charity events I was involved in that really made a difference.
The first one was Fender’ 60th anniversary where we were trying to use the milestone to raise money for our local music program in Corona, Kids Rock Free. I was involved with a promotion for his book “Conversations with Tom Petty” and I was planning on taking some guitars to his home for him to autograph and asked the publisher, Music Sales, if I could reach out to Tom to autograph one for our fund-raiser. They set it up with Tom’s publicist but I found out when I was already in his home, no one had alerted Tom! At first he was alarmed that I was a stalker, but I assured him “It’s okay, I’m with Fender!” He graciously signed the guitar and he started the ball rolling. When other celebrities like Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen and even the Stones found out that Tom had agreed, they all jumped in making it an incredibly successful event.
The next time was when my good buddy Norm Harris of Norman’s Rare Guitars had asked Tom to donate a concert for the Midnight Mission, LA’s oldest food bank and homeless shelter. Tom agreed to do his first concert with Mudcrutch for the Mission and it was a huge event. Fender donated guitars which were among the top auction items and our best memory was Tom’s smile throughout the show – he loved playing music more than anything and I will always remember him for his passion. The next year, Tom was awarded the Golden Hearts Award for all his work on behalf of the Mission (Norm had encouraged my wife Bettina and I to up our support for the Mission and she and I along with Richie Sambora received the Golden Hearts Award the following year).
Tom Petty – a very special and talented person doing good things for the right reasons.
Top Right Picture: Jim Ladd (the last DJ), Norm, Tom, legendary DJ Cynthia Fox, and yours truly.