Tom Petty Had A Very Different Job Before Music

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Ever since seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, Petty has nurtured his desire to become a musician. Petty watched the Fab Four’s debut performance on American television along with the other tens of millions of viewers, and ever since, he has had the desire to perform himself.

“Most magic is a trick, an illusion. But [when The Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show], this was real. Man oh man, was it real,” he told Music Radar in 2009. “I think the whole world was watching that night. It certainly felt that way – you just knew it, sitting in your living room, that everything around you was changing. It was like going from black-and-white to colour. Really.”

He continued: “I remember earlier that day, in fact, a kid on a bike passed me and said, ‘Hey, The Beatles are on TV tonight.’ I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me – and I thought to myself, ‘This means something’.”

After this event, his life was vibrant and he had no desire to fill his days with anything else. Petty dropped out of school at the age of 17 to pursue his desire and joined a local group as the bassist, but it didn’t happen right away for him.

He gained notoriety with his previous band Mudcrutch, who were humongous in the Florida circuit but were unable to break out on the global stage, before starting The Heartbreakers. They were sufficiently well-liked that Petty could concentrate on performing concerts without having to supplement his income from other sources, which wasn’t always the case.

“I took a grave-digging job because you didn’t have to look too sharp,” In 2017, he spoke to Rolling Stone. On his first day, Petty realized that he was ill-suited for the position. He pointed, “I got my foot caught in the lawnmower on my first day.”

Petty knew this wasn’t his vocation in life after his brief employment as a grave digger and as a groundskeeper for the University of Florida. The musician only took the position in order to make money and support his budding career in music. Gravedigging was not a glamorous job, and Petty was even more driven to leave Gainesville after starting the job.