Gainesville, FL

Gainesville, Florida Has Produced 8 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Musicians. Here's a Look at 3 of the Most Famous

L. Cane

When you think of Gainesville, you probably think of the University of Florida and Gators football. But Gainesville has produced more than football yards and college graduates. It is also home to many Rock and Roll Hall of Famers - 8 to be exact. There are Stephen Stills, Bernie Leadon, Don Felder, Tom Petty, Stan Lynch, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Ron Blair.

Here's an overview of three of the most famous and a look at why Gainesville might have contributed to the success of these musicians.

Tom Petty's Florida Beginnings and Impressive Achievements: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are among the most famous bands to come out of Florida. The band released 10 studio albums and have been nominated for and won numerous accolades, including the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the Grammy awards, and the MTV music awards. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Of Gainesville, Petty told WHYY's Fresh Air :

"It's an interesting place because you can meet almost any kind of person from many walks of life because of the university. But it's really surrounded by this kind of very rural kind of people that are — you know, they're farmers or, you know, tractor drivers or, you know, just all kinds of — game wardens, you name it, you know. So it's an interesting blend."

UF awarded Tom Petty a doctorate degree in 2021.

Don Felder of Eagles Fame Was Tom Petty's Guitar Teacher: Before Don Felder played guitar for the Eagles from 1974 to 2001, he taught guitar at Lipham Music, where Tom Petty was one of his students.

Of Gainesville, Felder told St. Augustine.com:

"I grew up in Gainesville and used to walk up and down the steps of Florida Field and sell racks of Cokes on Saturday so I could make a few bucks on the weekend. On Friday and Saturday nights, my band would play the fraternity parties."

Felder was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2016. The Eagles have sold more than 200 million records and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Steven Stills Grew Up in Gainesville and is Still Invested in the City: Steven Stills rose to fame with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He was ranked number 28 in Rolling Stone's 2003 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," and was the first person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice with his groups on the same night .

Before Stills was a rock star, he attended Gainesville High School and later the University of Florida. Although Stills has traveled the world in his career, Gainesville still holds a special place in his heart. He's attended Gators games, donated to UF's marching band, and even purchased a home in Gainesville.

He told the Herald Tribune:

"You eventually pick a place where you are most comfortable, so I always had a little special feeling for Gainesville."

Why Gainesville?: It may seem odd that so many talented musicians from the same time period hailed from a small, rural college town. But those who witnessed the music scene during that period say it was actually perfectly poised to produce talented musicians.

Local musicians say that Gainesville allowed its aspiring talent the ability to regularly hear and perform music. The opportunity to hone one's craft was there for the taking.

Local musician Mike Boulware explained to USA Today:

"One of the things Gainesville offered was a place to go hear live music. It was a pretty good, honky-tonk scene here."

Tom Holtz, who worked at Lipham Music, said that Gainesville had the advantage of allowing musicians to play 5-6 times per night.

“You don’t see that anymore,” he told USA Today. “You’re lucky to play on weekend nights these days.

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