Sometime in 2006 I was contacted by a gentleman named Jon Scott, the details are a little foggy at this point, I remember the conversation though. He introduced himself and asked if I knew who he was.
Being the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers fan that I am, I'd been saying "holy shit" to myself in my head since I heard the name. I basically said "yes sir, you're the guy who first got 'Breakdown' played on FM radio." He was surprised I knew that and then he asked me if I knew anything about live streaming audio. At that point, I had about 11 years experience with it. Jon and I talked more and I agreed to help build an online radio station for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. I had been doing gonegator .com for about seven years and already had the fan base for what we wanted to do.
Long story short, well shortened, I had this great website up and running with thousands of Tom Petty fans checking it out every week at gonegator .com. Jon Scott bought the equipment, I got it to work over the Internet. It was such a great experience. I was actually doing radio shows from the desk in my apartment for hours, playing songs that I loved and telling bad jokes. I didn't know shit about actually doing radio, the concentration it actually took to make sure you didn't come across as a complete idiot. Jon had that experience, and would call me up as I was playing songs and say "don't say uh so much", "you're popping your p's", "that joke sucked." It was great. Thank you Jon Scott for the memories. And so Gone Gator Radio was born. It was great, so much fun, I had all this music on my computer and would take requests via email during live shows. Talked to other Petty fans from all over the world. As the station grew in popularity, other fans would email me these bootleg recordings saying "have you heard this?" And they'd be these fantastic live performances of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers doing some obscure cover in Germany or anytown USA. Granted some bootleg recordings were really crappy and you'd hear the guy recording it telling the person in front of him to sit down. Some of them were really funny. But some of them were just INCREDIBLE and I tried to play the better quality ones more often. But then I had a few where the quality wasn't so great, but the song and performance was amazing. I tried to balance that.
Jon Scott and I built this great format, I was playing the entire catalog and all these great live cuts. I also played music from bands who influenced Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, the list was endless. But Tom's music is what I played most. And what turned out to be the most requested music were the rare live performances.
In the early 90's I worked for Jackyl's management company in Atlanta. One summer I got to work the Gibson Anniversary show in Nashville. Gibson supplied all the instruments for all the acts on the bill. I was side stage tuning a Les Paul and Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick walks right up to me, takes the guitar from around my neck, starts WAILING on it, hands me the guitar back, smiles and says "it's like Christmas." It was an odd bill for that show. Cheap Trick basically opened for a small band from Birmingham called Brother Cane. Joe Walsh was at the show and joined Cheap Trick on stage. And then the crowd left after Cheap Trick performed. The next day I was telling this story to Jesse Dupree and their manager on a conference call and Jesse says "Them old guys'll SPANK YA!" My point to telling that story and something I emphasized in every show on Gone Gator Radio was just how incredible Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are as a live band. I don't think Tom Petty can write a bad song, but when you see Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers live, you realize what a phenomenal group of musicians they really are. Maybe with my experience in the music industry I watch a live show a little different and see how each member of the band works with each other. And Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers do it extremely well.
I'd probably still be doing Gone Gator Radio if a law wasn't passed limiting how many times you could play an artist in an hour. Which blew the Gone Gator Radio format out of the water. Thanks DMCA.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Petty stated he compiled live material with Mike Campbell and Ryan Ulyate from three decades of live concerts. In 2008, Ulyate began going through Petty's live archive and created an iTunes library of 170 concerts with a total of 3,509 performances of 400 unique songs. "I made sure Tom and Mike heard every song they ever did," Ulyate said, "And I ranked the concerts with a star system." Throughout his career, Petty extensively documented his concerts, beginning in the late seventies. "I'm glad we did it. I think this is one of the great live rock & roll bands. And you really understand us once you've heard this set. It was a lot of fun to put together"
Today marks the fifth anniversary of The Live Anthology. The quality of the recordings on The Live Anthology are unsurpassed. The Live Anthology does a wonderful job of getting the point across that Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are an incredible bunch of musicians. Had this box set come out 3 years earlier, I would have been playing the hell out of it on Gone Gator Radio. But, I do have some great recordings that I will try to share here on Tom Petty Rocks! Although I did not receive any credit in the liner notes, I guess in the back of my mind, I hope and think Gone Gator Radio had a little to do with the inspiration behind making this fantastic boxed set. I've spent some time working on the Discography section of Tom Petty Rocks over the last couple days. Without further ado and to steal a line from Jim Lenahan, "Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Play something boys..." [REMINDER: You must be registered and logged in to listen to music on Tom Petty Rocks!]