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I Knew Tom Petty When He Was Merely Tommy of Mudcrutch

Gainesville, Florida, within the early Seventies, had terrific dwell music

Photograph by Matthew Kalapuch on Unsplash

I attended graduate college on the College of Florida in Gainesville, receiving my M.S. in 1972 and Ph.D. in 1975. Since I like dwell music and particularly Rock and Roll, I used to be thrilled by the dwell music scene in Gainesville.

I developed friendships with six fellow graduate college students, 4 males and two females, who have been additionally music lovers. In some mixture, the seven of us may very well be present in a number of golf equipment listening to dwell music and, after all, consuming nearly each Friday or Saturday evening.

Quickly, Dub’s, a bar and lounge that additionally had topless dancers, turned my favourite place on the town. And, no, it wasn’t due to the boobs however as a result of a band referred to as Mudcrutch was the common home band. I used to be extremely impressed with the lead vocalist and guitarist. He was a thin, long-haired man who gave the impression to be a few years youthful than me.

One evening, as Mudcrutch took a break between units, the lead singer walked by the desk the place my buddies and I have been sitting, and I spoke to him. “Hi, man, I love your singing and guitar playing. Let me buy you a beer.” He stated, “sure, just let me go piss first.”

He continued to the restroom after which stopped again by and took a seat subsequent to me. I prolonged my hand and stated, “I’m Jim.” He shook my hand and stated, “I’m Tommy.” No final names have been exchanged.

Over the next weeks, he stopped by and drank a beer or three with my mates and me most nights that we have been in Dub’s. We all the time purchased the beer and sometimes purchased a lap dance for him. (They have been $2 or $3, as I recall.)

One evening one of many feminine grad college students, Norma Jean, who was a part of our group and had a significant crush on Tommy (and who was very drunk), determined to offer Tommy a free lap dance. Since Norma Jean had a physique equal to any dancer within the membership and superior to most girls, it was an pleasant expertise. Nevertheless, it bought us kicked out of the bar. No worries, there was loads of different locations to go.

Over time, Tommy informed me slightly about himself. I discovered that he was a neighborhood, born and raised in Gainesville. He informed me that he had dropped out of highschool to begin his band and that his dad was nonetheless pissed off about that. He was itching to get out of Gainesville and transfer on to the large time.

Once I was often listening to Mudcrutch and sharing a beer with Tommy, it by no means occurred to me to ask Tommy what his final identify was.

In early 1974 Mudcrutch was now not enjoying in Dub’s. I requested across the membership and realized that Mudcrutch had damaged up and Tommy had moved on to Los Angeles.

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