Saturday, July 21, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 20

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on October 11th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 32

Local Notes: Local remembers Tom Petty's legacy and last show

A Santa Maria native remembers Tom Petty's legacy, and his last show in LA


Santa Maria native Josh Kitchen saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at the Outside Lands festival in 2014 (pictured) and at Petty’s last show at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 25.

Josh Kitchen grew up in Santa Maria to parents who always cranked the great American songbook of the 1960s and ’70s. They also took him along to concerts, often, and he’s seen just about everyone, from Paul McCartney to Emmylou Harris, from Randy Newman to Kanye West.

Kitchen (full disclosure: Kitchen and the author are friends) lives in Los Angeles now, and when he found out that Tom Petty was going to perform at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 25, he jumped to get tickets.

“You should never not go to a show, you know. You’ll never regret going,” he said. “That’s why I try to see as many people as I can.”

The music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was always a part of his parents’ playlist, and once he was an adult, Kitchen’s fandom became more serious. He bought Petty’s Anthology box set when Sam Goody was still in the Santa Maria Town Center, and has bought most of Petty’s new albums since, he said.

The concert at the Hollywood Bowl included performances of Petty’s classics, Kitchen explained, and the artist sounded totally on his game. The show was the last night of a three-night series at the Bowl, and the last performance of Petty’s 40-year anniversary tour, Kitchen said

“Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is considered an LA band, so it was like a homecoming,” he said. “It was so cool. During ‘Free Fallin’’ when he sings about Ventura Boulevard, everybody was singing along. It was such an awesome thing to be a part of.”

It was a week later to the day when he was at work that Kitchen got the news that the iconic singer/songwriter had gone into cardiac arrest.

Kitchen is a barista at Starbucks, and his coworkers told him about the news. He rushed out on all of his breaks to check the news on his phone for updates on Petty’s condition.

“I was just crushed, because I had just seen him the Monday before that Monday,” he said. “It was such a shock when he passed away, because he was just going, you know.”

Petty’s last show wasn’t the first of his that Kitchen had been to. He also made it to the front row of Petty and the Heartbreakers’ show at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.

On Petty’s website, a photo of Kitchen is viewable under the artist’s photo gallery for the 2014 San Francisco show. Kitchen said he got to the show early to make sure he’d get that front row spot.

Kitchen said that being a Tom Petty fan came naturally to him because of the directness of Petty’s music, and the unique place it has in American culture.

“I think there’s just something about his songwriting that touches something that a lot of people can understand and relate to,” he said. “Songs about being a kid, falling in love, not being the cool kid. I feel like he’s got a lot of songs for outsiders and things that touch on normal growing up and things like that.”

That’s why Petty fandom is an intergenerational phenomenon, Kitchen explained.

“He’s one of those artists where, it’s not like seeing someone like Bob Seeger or Jackson Brown, where the audience is mostly old people,” he said. “The audience is like kids with their parents, teenagers, 20-somethings. He was just, I think, for everybody, and was one of those generational artists where the songs still sound current.”

Kitchen also brought his younger brother to the show. His brother is a musician and “might be a bigger Petty fan that I am,” he said. The news of Petty’s death hit his sibling hard as well.

“He was absolutely crushed the other night,” he said, “but I mean, he gets to say he was there, and I’m so happy he got that experience.”

Managing Editor Joe Payne doesn’t want to live like a refugee. Contact him at

Weekly Poll
Should Santa Barbara County allow ExxonMobil to truck crude oil from its offshore platforms through the county?

Not sure.

| Poll Results