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Todd’s Take: Tom Petty Ticket Stubs Bring Back Great Memories

With the passing of rock music icon Tom Petty on Monday night, I, like many, began to recollect all of the great songs that have been part of the soundtrack to my life that he wrote and sang. I also began to remember the many shows of his I had attended over the years. Last night, I went through my ticket stub collection – which dates as far back as 1984 – to see just exactly how many Heartbreakers concerts I had indeed attended.

As I began to unearth each one, those little bits of now yellowing paper magically took me back to the very time and place I was at in my life.

Here are a few of my most fond memories:

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This was my first T.P. show at what is now known as Key Arena. Tom was touring in support of his latest album “Into the Great Wide Open”. I’ll never forget the killer jam they did when playing “Don’t Come Around Here No More” with Tom chasing a bunch of roadies who were all wearing Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan masks around the stage!
It was also a night that I made a seriously crummy social faux pas that I still feel guilty about. During the show I was using my emptied paper soda cup to spit my chewing tobacco in to (don’t judge!). After one of the band’s numbers toward the end of the set, I started to applaud while still holding my “spittee”. I inadvertently hit the bottom of the wax paper cylinder sending it hurtling onto the seat in front of me. Eight ounces of Copenhagen-riddled saliva dripped down the back of the woman’s fur jacket who was seated one row up. I knew if she noticed it that it’d be obvious from whence it came and I, as a 21 year-old disc jockey, didn’t have the scratch to pay for her dry cleaning or to replace it.
So I of course bolted the scene.
I left my buddy Brian King and went to watch the end of the show from the rear of the coliseum. As I made my way through the concourse, I literally¬†bumped into Seattle Mariners great Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson!
And if all that weren’t enough, I got turned on to what eventually would become one of my all-time favorite musicians, the late Chris Whitley, who was the opening act that night. His album “Living With the Law” is still one of my top 10 to this day.

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My second show some five years later. This tour was in support of the “Wildflowers” album. Hearing “You Wreck Me” live for the first time with the Columbia River Gorge as the backdrop was even more than a strung out adrenaline junkie could handle.

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My last two shows – again, at The Gorge – but THIS TIME with my number one band ever The Black Crowes! Are you kidding me?!?! The first, only, and likely last night I ever camped at the Gorge. My two biggest takeaways from the those shows were a.) seeing Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson‘s then wife, actress Kate Hudson, sitting backstage jamming to the vibe, and b.) the mass of humanity there that sang out loud EVERY word to EVERY song that T.P. played over the course of those two evenings.

Man, am I gonna miss that guy. An gem of Americana to be sure.

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