Among those mourning the passing of Tom Petty is Don Felder, the former Eagles guitarist and fellow Gainesville, Fla.
Four years older than Petty, Felder has the distinction of giving a young Petty guitar lessons when he was a teenager. The guitarist recalled to us that,
“He was playing bass at the time in this band which I think was called the Epics. I remember them as the Rucker Brothers Band. It had two guitar players that both just flailed artlessly on the electric guitar, and Tommy was playing bass and singing and fronting the band, and he really didn’t want to be the singing bass player. He wanted to play guitar so I started teaching him guitar in this music store and going out to see him and teaching him at his house.”
Felder also recalls that even back then Petty had the makings of a star:
“Tommy was very charismatic on stage. I remember standing at one Tom Petty show and there were three young girls standing right next to me and they were going, ‘Omigod, he’s so great!’ and Tommy was flipping his long blonde hair and shaking his hair. He had a great stage presence and a commitment that he could sell on his presence which was great, and a lot of people might have the talent, they just don’t have the commitment and charisma to get it across, and Tom has it in spades.”
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.