When Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty died on Oct. 2, 2017, at age 66, the music world mourned. But fans of his in Gainesville, Fla., where Petty was born and raised, took it as a challenge: How should the college town mark his passing? By throwing a loud and proud singalong it turns out.
Fans at the University of Florida’s homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 7, paused after the third quarter to sing along to the Petty hit I Won’t Back Down. The lyrics to the hit song obviously connected with Gator fans and reflected both on their football team’s season and the singer’s rebellious life.
“Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground
And I won’t back down.”
The celebration in the stands was such a success that Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin later announced that UF would continue the new tradition for the foreseeable future.