A Tom Petty tribute show will celebrate the life and music of the iconic musician on Nov. 10, in Niagara Falls.
The Madhatters, Niagara Falls’ own original Tom Petty cover band will lead the night, playing only Tom Petty songs, as well as bringing back the original line-up from when the band first started.
Event organizer John Duffy says Niagara Falls residents are jumping at the opportunity to see the show.
He says 250 tickets went on sale Oct. 12, and sold-out in seven minutes, at which point the show was moved to a larger venue.
“We had to turn people away, and we felt really bad about it,” said Duffy.
After realizing the demand for the show, which was originally supposed to take place at the Niagara Falls Hose Brigade hall, organizers switched venues to Our Lady of Peace, a Niagara Falls church which has a capacity of 500.
Duffy says the other 250 tickets sold out in four minutes.
“It just goes to show the love for Tom Petty in this town.”
He says the Niagara Falls love for Petty is no secret, and wasn’t before his death either.
“Tom Petty resonates with our age group (35 to 45-years-old) in Niagara. It’s who we grew up listening to …. He just struck a chord with our age group.”
“It’s kind of weird … You’d go to a Tom Petty show, even in Toronto or Buffalo, and you would always know the first three rows were always going to be people of our age group from Niagara Falls. It was like a high school reunion. You knew your friends were going to be there.”
He says The Madhatters also have a big following in the Falls which is a big draw for the show.
“I do believe that it’s more than just Tom Petty. It’s about the Madhatters together and playing all Tom Petty songs, and our generation of music-lovers that want to just be together that night to celebrate Tom.”
Frank Pietrangelo, lead singer of the Madhatters, says the band will bring out two line-ups for the tribute show, both the current line-up of members, plus the line-up from when the band first started in 1995.
Pietrangelo says former band member Mike Pavan is flying out from California to play with the band in the show.
He says few people know that when the band started out, they started as a Tom Petty cover band. He says that’s part of why this night is so important to him and the rest of the band.
“Tom Petty’s music was such an important part of why we became a band. We were a few high school kids who loved Tom Petty and we started a band because of it. As soon as I was approached about potentially doing this show, the first thing that came to mind was that I would desperately attempt to get the band back together, the original band.”
“Not only is this show a chance to celebrate the music of Tom Petty, a musical legend who had such an impact on us and the city of Niagara Falls, but it’s a chance to celebrate over 20 years of the Madhatters and have members past and present be part of it.”
Marianna Bologna, a Niagara Falls resident, was the brainchild behind the event, inspired by Petty's sudden death on Oct. 2, and because she says Niagara Falls is a “hot bed” for Tom Petty fans.
“In my experience, whether cruising with friends, out watching some local bands or even just sitting around a fire, Tom Petty was always the soundtrack to growing up in Niagara Falls. His music sums up the way we live … like dancing at the Zombie Zoo.”
Petty's death was initially falsely reported, though he died shortly after in UCLA Medical Center in California.
The premature news of Petty’s death sparked a heated reaction from what many claim was Petty’s daughter.
On an Instagram account that’s attributed to Petty’s daughter Annakim Violette, a post was made that lashed out at Rolling Stone magazine for the false report.
“My dad is not dead yet but your f***ing magazine is … How dare you report that my father has died just to get press because your articles and photos are so dated… This is my father not a celebrity. An artist and human being,” said an Instagram account attributed to Violette.
It’s unconfirmed if the account belongs to Violette.
As for Tom Petty, his memory will live on in the form of music — and for having written the world’s most iconic song for skydiving videos — Free Fallin’.
The tribute show is from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Our Lady of Peace church, located at 6988 Stanley Ave. All proceeds will go to the Falls View Hose Brigade.
The Falls View Hose Brigade has serviced Niagara since 1905 and supports the community in numerous ways, some of which include scholarships to high school students, Christmas baskets, and supporting childhood sports.