TUPELO • Jeff Spencer is unquestionably a Tom Petty fan.
Spencer’s dedication to the rock star dates back to 1978 when he saw Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, for the first time on “The Midnight Special” TV show. The Tupelo resident attended many of their concerts over the years, including the final one in 2017 at the Hollywood Bowl.
Petty died a week after his last concert, but Spencer and other Northeast Mississippi musicians are carrying on his music. They’ll gather at 8:30 Wednesday night – the second anniversary of Petty’s death – for the Tupelo Petty-Fest at the Blue Canoe.
This will be the second year Spencer organized the tribute performance celebrating the life and music of Petty.
“Everybody loves something about Tom Petty,” Spencer said. “You might not love all his stuff, but he’s got something you can identify with. He speaks to a lot of people through his music.”
Spencer said the idea of a Petty tribute event came up in a conversation.
“I was with a group of people not long after Tom passed away, and we said we need to do a tribute on the anniversary of his death,” he said. “We thought it was a good idea.”
Adam Morgan of the Blue Canoe offered to host the first tribute event. Twenty musicians played before a packed crowd.
“After the turnout last year, how well it did for Adam and how much fun us musicians had paying tribute to Tom, Adam was quick to say let’s do this again next year,” Spencer said. “Adam and the Blue Canoe have been amazing and are such gracious hosts.”
Six local bands, including Spencer’s own Strange as Angels, will perform at the tribute. The talented lineup includes Big Tony and the Gentrys, Zooligans, Young Guns, Misbehavin’ and the Spunk Monkees. Each band will play songs by Petty and the Heartbreakers or Petty’s solo material.
“When I asked the guys to play, I had them send me a list of 10 songs they’d like to do,” Spencer said. “Of course, some groups overlapped with requests. I tried to divide them up as fairly as I could. All the big hits are going to be covered and some deep cuts, too. We’re excited about that.
“There are so many great musicians in Tupelo,” Spencer added. “I’m pleased how we can come together to honor Tom. It’s going to be a great night.”
Those attending will be asked to make a $10 donation at the door. The money raised will be given to Itawamba Crossroads Ranch, a home for people with autism and serious brain injuries, and Tazzy Animal Rescue Fund, which the Heartbreakers supported. Mike Campbell, the former Heartbreakers guitarist, and his wife are on the Tazzy board of directors.