Gainesville lost one of its favorite and famous sons earlier this week, and the city’s college football team will pay its respects this weekend.
Music legend and Gainesville native Tom Petty went into cardiac arrest early Monday morning and, after unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him, was pronounced dead later that day at the age of 66. As Florida’s prepares for its game against LSU Saturday afternoon in The Swamp, the football program announced plans to honor Petty’s memory.
From the school’s release:
At the end of the third quarter, after the UF band plays “We Are the Boys from Old Florida” and fans lock arms and sway as they sing the UF spirit song, Petty’s famous tune “I Won’t Back Down” will blast across Steve Spurrier/Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to honor a local legend treasured by Gator Nation and far beyond.
“Let’s celebrate together what he meant to the world of music and what he meant to this community,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. “Since we are already singing ‘We are the Boys,’ let’s go right from that into one of his great anthems and make that the way we are going to jointly celebrate Tom Petty and the Gators.”
“We encourage fans to sing along as a way to honor a local legend and share a special moment in his music,” said Alicia Longworth, assistant athletics director of marketing and promotions. “Tom Petty is a beloved figure for so many Gator fans.”
Petty, who along with his band the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, twice played concerts on the UF campus, in 1993 and 2006. He last played a concert in the city of his birth in September of 2006 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the formation of his legendary band.