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Oct-17-2017 18:50printcomments

Legendary Rocker Tom Petty Remembered with Love and Laughter

A young landscaper learned to ask before moving Tom Petty's tree.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
RIP Tom Petty

(SALEM, Ore.) - On Oct. 2, we heard the shocking news that rock music legend Tom Petty had suffered cardiac arrest at his Malibu home and was on life support. This, just after the painful tragedy and loss of life at Las Vegas, seemed surreal, even unfathomable.

Not long later, an announcement no one wanted to hear: Tom Petty had died.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers had just finished a 40th-anniversary tour at the end of September. Hopes were dashed for fans anxious for another chance to see the band in concert.

“On behalf of the Tom Petty family we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty.

“He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40pm PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends,” wrote Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, on behalf of the family.

Tom Petty was laid to rest yesterday, at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, Calif. His family and friends joined together at the temple, shrine, and meditation garden, and paid tribute to the late musician.

Some tributes didn’t make it to the memorial, because his music touched so many for so many years, it would be impossible to share all the stories people have to tell. They would be good though.

Any one that ever attended one of Tom Petty’s concerts, or had the opportunity to cross his path had a personal connection with him and feels a sense of loss at his passing.

I have my own story, or rather, it would have been a story if I had actually given birth at his Las Vegas concert in 1999. I didn't know it was standing room only (not suggested for month 8!). I made it through the show and left before the encore, begrudgingly.

Tom Petty was well loved for more than his music, and memorable anecdotes prove him to be the same cool, down to earth guy he appeared to be.

Arnold Strong was a 21-year old landscaper in Los Angeles when he met Tom Petty. This is his chance encounter that left him a great story to tell.

During the summer of '90, I was 21 years old and working for Bradley Bontems landscaping for Tom Petty (though mostly his first wife, Jane).

“Once, after moving a 300 lb terra cotta pot with an orange tree in it across his redwood deck, this shadow came over me. It was Tom. In this hat. Two inch ash hanging out of the corner of his mouth.

"You know, man," he slacked. "I really liked that tree where it was."

Looking up to see his profile in shadow, as the sun was immediately behind him, I explained, "Well, Mister Petty, you're the boss. So tell me where you want it placed and I'll put this tree right there."

"Thanks," he said. "I'm not trying to be a dick or anything, but where it was, you know, was just right."

He shook my hand and said, "Thanks, you're new to Brad's crew, aren't you?"

"Yes I am and I've listened to every song you've written since I was 13 years old, Sir."

And then we put the tree back.

Tom Petty’s music plays on, far beyond his physical life, or ours. An odd premonition, he recently told USA TODAY, "I do feel as I get older that there's a finite amount of time left.

"It's made me more interested in making records. They last longer than me, and they don't go away."

Tom Petty was 66.

#tompetty #restinpeace

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valera ainsworth October 17, 2017 7:21 pm (Pacific time)

Beautiful tribute.

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