The Gators paid tribute to local legend Tom Petty by playing “I Won’t Back Down” at the end of the third quarter. The crowd of 90,000-plus sang along as the hit was played over the sound system.
Petty died Monday at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles a day after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California. He was 66.
Born and raised in Gainesville, Petty once worked as a groundskeeper at the University of Florida as he tried to make it in the music industry.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Malibu said they responded to the singer’s Malibu home at 10:50 p.m. Sunday, and Petty was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest early Monday morning, according to Petty’s family.
He was 66 years old.
Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released a statement late Monday on behalf of Petty’s family saying the rocker had died. There were erroneous reports he had passed earlier in the day.
Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999 and, in 2002 they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, Petty was honored with an all-star tribute as the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year.
Petty and the Heartbreakers most recently had mounted a lengthy 40th-anniversary tour that wrapped last month. On Sept. 29, he thanked his fans for supporting the Heartbreakers for 40 years.
Petty is survived by his wife of 16 years, Dana York, and two daughters, Adria and AnnaKim Violette, from a previous marriage.