Tom Petty, "Wildflowers". It's an album that was my anthem as a New Jersey 'young adult', going through heartbreak and life transition the summer after my freshman year of college. My friend and I listened to that album on a ride 'down the Shore' and for much of a week itself in Seaside. And it was cathartic.

The thing about Tom Petty is, he's a subtle icon to even the most casual of fans. The first time I took my now husband to see him (a bunch of summers later) in concert at Camden, he was skeptical of how good the show would be. Until we got there and he knew nearly every Petty song without realizing it. All those hits. All those NJ 'life soundtrack' moments fused together in the experience, a crowd remembering, mourning and celebrating simultaneously.

Petty also rocked us in Holmdel that same summer among others and of course there were NYC & Philly gigs worth trekking into either city for, without a moment's hesitation.

The most recent NJ show for Tom Petty fans was at the Prudential Center in Newark this past June. I was fortunate enough to be there and he played quite a few from my personal favorite album (Wildflowers) in a set list just packed with anthems.

And now, I numbly realize it was the final time I'd have the chance to see a true legend of my lifetime electrify and unite a crowd in-person.

Petty's impact is clearly seen in the way he's being mourned by his musical peers. NJ's own Jon Bon Jovi shared a throwback photo with the late rocker, writing he's crushed by the loss of one of his greatest influences. Fellow Jersey native & Grammy winner Jack Antonoff also paid tribute on Twitter, noting there's a Petty reference in every song he's written.

And, Bruce Springsteen has honored his fallen peer in a three-part Twitter thread, writing he's always felt a 'deep kinship' with Tom Petty's music and that seeing him was like running into a long lost brother. Springsteen adds "Our world will be a sadder place without him."

Rest easy Tom Petty. Thanks for being a true "leader into the trees" for generations.

Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee.  A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook as ProudJersey.

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