A Matter Of Geography

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Southern California band or Florida rockers?

Any Tom Petty fan can tell you the guitarist / singer and leader of the Heartbreakers is from Florida and that he struck rock gold after moving to Southern California. But which side of the continent does Petty identify with most?

Petty, who begins a two-night stand tour tonight at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, Wash., answered that very question while speaking with the Los Angeles Times’ Pop & Hiss blogger Randy Lewis.

“I often see us included in Southern [rock]. But honestly, when the Southern rock thing happened, we were long gone for the most part,” Petty said.

“I think we’re really Californians. I’ve been in California longer than I was in Florida. Certainly where you grow up is always going to be deeply embedded in your soul. I don’t know, but sometimes it kind of hurts my feelings that we’re not included in discussions of Southern California music. The Heartbreakers formed here. We really are an L.A. band.”

Petty must have loved Robert Hilburn, the retired music critic who for decades headed up the L.A. Times’ Pop Music section. Buried deep in our own memories is a Hilburn-penned article from more than 20 years back hailing Petty and the Heartbreakers as one of the best L.A. bands in music. But then, that was back in the day when people actually read newspapers.

Photo: John Davisson

Click here for the Los Angeles Times / Pop & Hiss article.