Tom Petty's death feels like the crushing loss of a dear friend. My hubby and I always referred to him as our uncle, that's what our relationship felt like. It doesn't matter that we never actually had a relationship. It doesn't matter that we never even met because Tom treated me like a friend whether he knew me or not. The music he created was a friend to anyone who needed it. I've needed it a lot throughout my life, some times more than others, and Tom always provided the right words at the right time.
He was a tangle of contradictions: he was a redneck hillbilly but conducted his life with the utmost class. He could be simultaneously cocky and humble. He was a superstar whose stratospheric heights have only been reached by a handful of people and yet he was by all accounts a completely grounded, down to earth person.
He had an overwhelming sense of fairness. Remember when he badassedly refused to let his record company charge $1.00 more for his album than they did for anyone else's? He thought it wouldn't be fair to the fans. To him, music was magic and it should be accessible to everyone. That's why he never accepted sponsorships for his tours - he paid for every tour himself so he could keep the prices reasonable and give everyone a chance to buy a ticket.
I always admired his honesty and forthrightness. The only thing he ever held back was his heroin addiction in the 90's. He hid it not because of shame, but because he was afraid some people might think heroin was a good option if they knew he had done it and he didn't want anyone following that lead.
I keep thinking about his kids. I know the loss of a parent, it's devastating. But I hope AnnaKim, Adria and Dylan can somehow find comfort in knowing they share their loss with millions of people like myself who were profoundly and positively impacted by their dad's life and music.
I truly loved my friend, my Uncle Tom, and I miss him terribly.