Peter Wolf, the longtime lead singer of the J. Geils Band, was friends with Tom Petty for decades, two second-generation rockers with an encyclopedic knowledge of their craft. “What an unbelievable loss,” Wolf wrote on his Facebook today. “Tom, may you ‘ride down the King’s Highway.'” Here is an exclusive remembrance Wolf penned last night for Rolling Stone about his old friend:
I first met Tom when he and the Heartbreakers were the opening act on a J. Geils tour back in 1977. It was a full circle honor for me to be his opening act on the 2017 Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary tour.
Tom and the band definitely had a vision early on of what they wanted to accomplish. Even back then, the audience seemed to understand immediately how special they were, and they received multiple well-deserved encores every night.
The last time I saw Tom was the final night of the recent tour I played with him. We were joking about the time he sent me the song “Don’t Do Me Like That,” He thought it would be a good song for the Geils band to do – unfortunately we never got around to recording it, so Tom put it on his album, and it became one of his many big hits … and he certainly was right about that song!
More recently Tom was having hip trouble and in a lot of pain backstage during this summers’ tour. He was driven to the performance area in a golf cart and slowly climbed the steps to the stage every night. But what was amazing… once he put on his guitar it seemed like it was a magic wand, taking away every ailment and pain that he was having… and night after night he kept the musical bar high.
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That’s what I admired about Tom; he worked very hard at everything he did and always with a deep passion and a great sense of dignity. He certainly carved his own way and always stayed one of the good guys!