I think I feel the loss of Tom Petty more than ever today.
Because of what might have been.
When I was a teen, we got the fan club letter several times a year, and at first when I received it it was called Popular Defective. It was loaded with info, fun stuff, photos, and, short of waiting for magazines to come out with any little article, it was what I (and, I am sure, many others) doted on for info and updates, and pictures of the band.
I know I saved mine, and I can’t find them all for some reason. But I did find the most important one.
I received a total of four copies of this issue, because whoever was running the label making machine printed out four labels for me! So here are the first two:
The other two hilariously read, “Elizabeth”, and then it was as if someone just said, “Oh, Screw it,” and labeled it “Rock Fan.”
Earlier,I had also received a previous issue four times. Worried that my precious newsletter could possibly get sent somewhere else if they decided to re-configure the labels, I had written the office and said, “Hey, I enjoy getting multiple copies, but my name is ELIZABETH STEED”.
So I guess they still hadn’t gotten it straight, because I got four copies of this issue.
Here is the front page. I should also add that I have heard from an extremely reliable source that Lester Esso(the club president) was actually Tom himself.
I obviously got another acknowledgement about the drawings I had sent, but possibly even one more for their getting my name wrong multiple times. How about that? And there are some great callouts to other fans, there, too. I mean, how nice can you possibly be, here?
But still, looking at this today, and looking back at my “Betty Wilbury” guitar pick…Tom read in my letter that I was learning to play guitar(and there’s another tale as to why I stopped that)….it makes me think probably too hard about it…it was almost as if he were saying, “You’re one of us. Keep going. Here’s your pick. You’ll need it.”
That he sent me that gift, and encouraged me, however distant it had to be,in my art endeavors like he did makes it seem all the more raw that he is gone.
But he earned a fan for life from me and probably many other people that he reached out and did kind things for.
I was starting on a letter to him in late summer of 2017, and I thought I had time to finish it and include some new drawings. I had it all planned out…I would draw a HUGE picture of Chuck Rooster on the envelope, hoping to jog his memory–hey, that’s that kid that sent all those goofy drawings and the tape!—and possibly, through the new magic of social media(and of course now that I am much older)start a correspondence of some sort. I have connected with so many famous people I like this way..it seems like it could have happened.
I imagined that if, somehow, I were able to come backstage or something and get to meet him (a feat in itself), and we had had a chance to talk just a bit, we probably would have had a lot of laughs. It seems like our senses of humor were equally warped, drawing little cartoons of people and coming up with funny characters and aliases.
If we had become friends, I could have seen us sharing stupid stories about growing up in the south, calling each other idiots when we weren’t doing other people right, and building up each other’s confidence when we felt low.
I never finished the letter,thinking I had plenty of time to make it good. Oh how overconfident we can be sometimes.
I’m writing this with tears flooding my glasses.
I miss you so much, big brother Charlie T.