From September 1997 to July 1998, I lived in New York’s Alphabet City, casually observing the punk scene. It was pre-gentrification, and the Bowery, home of CBGB, reeked of the urine of drunks. Black leather chimed in with body piercings.
It was a gritty, cartoon scene with bands bashing out three-chord songs, riding their hopes to fame. Though I was more inclined to music from the 60s and early 70s, I joined the punksters, securing several unpaid solo gigs at small clubs, madly strumming my acoustic guitar and shouting out for recognition.
In the midst of the chaos, appeared Tom Petty, a counter-revolutionary, with long, blond hair, parted in the middle, and a pure pop/folk sensibility, reminiscent of The Byrds and The Beatles.
He offered a way back to my roots. He was Californian, by way of Florida, who never caved into the New York punk scene. In fact, he could be quite caustic about it, denouncing it in magazines.
Back in Canada, I grew back my hair as a protest to punk and set off on a short-lived music career.
When I look at myself, I see a drive to model Tom Petty. I wanted a return to the 60s.
I have ridden many a road. There have been lots of fun mixed in with the downs. Writing and music have been constant companions.
The punk scene never worked out for me. However, top-class singer/songwriters, like Tom Petty, remain honored.
He will be missed.
This article originally appeared in Linkedin.