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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: L.A. or Fla.?

June 10, 2010 |  1:57 pm

Tom Petty 1977

During my recent interview with rocker Tom Petty for a profile that will appear in Friday’s Calendar, I asked him about his decision in the 1970s to leave his home turf in Florida and relocate to Los Angeles in search of a record contract, when he could as easily have gone to New York.

"If I was going somewhere," he told me, "I’d rather come here. I could relate to this more than I could have related to New York. Why starve and freeze? I may as well go to California."

There was more to the original decision than that, of course, but it led to the question of whether Petty and the Heartbreakers deserve to be placed in the long line of noteworthy acts that have emerged from Southern California, where Petty and his band mates have remained pretty much ever since they arrived here three and half decades ago.

Before I share what Petty had to say on the subject, we wanted to give readers the chance to weigh in: Do the Heartbreakers belong in the pantheon of Southland music that goes back to Ricky Nelson in the '50s; the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Doors in the '60s; the Eagles, Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt in the '70s; X, Black Flag, Fear, the Blasters, Los Lobos, Van Halen, Metallica and N.W.A. in the '80s; No Doubt, the Offspring, Sublime, Rage Against the Machine and Snoop Dogg in the '90s; and System of a Down and Linkin Park in the '00s?

Or should they be counted in the history of Southern rock along with the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit and Molly Hatchet? 

On Friday, I’ll post Petty’s own comments about where his heart lies musically.

--Randy Lewis

Photo: Tom Petty in Los Angeles in 1977. Credit: Los Angeles Times