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Tom Petty

81cP1M78phL._SY355_The losses don't get much bigger, nor sting quite as much. Tom Petty has departed terra firma.

I (sorta) met Tom on an elevator at a Radio and Records Convention in Columbus OH in early 1978. These were affairs where the record companies would showcase new acts to those of us that still had the ability to develop playlists for our radio stations without national consultants getting in the way and homogenizing American Rock. The first Petty album had been released the previous November...but, nobody in radio was paying any attention because it came from a subsidiary of ABC Records (and almost everything on that label sucked). I remember seeing the album in a stack at the radio station and thinking, "whatev."

As I stepped onto the elevator that would take us to one of the showcases, I greeted a 5'7" guy with longish blond hair. He said "hey" back. We watched the floors tick by and went our separate ways.

15 minutes later, a couple hundred of us realized we should never again dismiss artists signed to ABC/ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tore into a simply sensational 30-minute set that made believers of every single one of us.

While there may be better examples of driving-down-the-road songs and songs that set the gold standard for duets and video on MTV, this Music Friday salute goes to the moment when I realized I had just met the future of American Rock 'n Roll, "Breakdown."

To have that moment back...


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Bill Geist

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