The Legendary Moment Tom Petty Meets Elvis Presley
via clevelandlivemusic / Youtube
Only a few artists could do it the way Tom Petty did it, and it’s not that hard to see why; knowing that he learned from the best. In a matter of time, Petty became one of music’s finest songwriters/musicians— providing hits that are not only appealing to people of all gender and age but are also equally impactful to today’s form of music.
Part of being an incredibly versatile artist is knowing that not all of your fans would adore the songs you create for public release. But Petty hated being pigeonholed on something that he wasn’t in the first place; he would rather make records that spoke what’s best to describe his thoughts and feelings than to try and imitate others. For Petty, he was an average Joe with extraordinary skills. And who could Petty relate to the most for being that person than the King of Rock and Roll himself?
Elvis Presley is a gift to the music industry, a pioneering individual who inspired thousands of artists. Some of these artists even went on and made names for themselves: The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, KISS, Jimi Hendrix, Petty, and everyone from the industry. It’s one thing when you support your hero from afar, but it’s a whole new level of experience if you’d get to meet them in person; that’s exactly what happened to Petty.
Speaking with the Rolling Stone Magazine, Petty recalled on the summer of 1961 when he went and visited his uncle who was working on the set of a new Presley movie, Follow That Dream. “He arrived in a fleet of white Cadillacs. People were screaming, handing records over a chain-link fence for him to sign. I remember his hair was so black that the sunshine was glowing off of it. Just a nod and a hello made your skin tingle. I was high for weeks.” Meeting his idol for the very first time prompted him to buy every Presley record he could find and internalize it. “Elvis became the soundtrack of my early years,” he added.
It would take him years to find that same amount of spark for his career. Though he may never compare to the glowing black hair of Elvis under the sunlight, he found peace in the radiance of his blonde hair under the blinding spotlight.