Tom Petty’s Daughter Adria Recalls Her Father’s ‘Liberating’ Show

We all might have different meanings for the word ‘entertainer,’ but when it comes to naming Tom Petty as an entertainer, most of us would agree that the late singer was one hell of a performer. However, as she recently disclosed to American Songwriter, his daughter Adria Petty’s pick for his most liberating show wasn’t one of his classics but a much more subtle one.

Petty always knew when to leave his issues behind and took on the stage as he wore the skin of a showman. Still, in Fillmore, during his 20-show 1997 residency shows, the small and fully packed venue gave Petty a chance to be personal. There was a feeling of community in the audience as all the strangers in the crowd became familiar faces.

Perhaps, it was this atmosphere that Petty decided not to put on his performer’s mask and not to pretend. Those gigs at Fillmore proved to his daughter that Tom didn’t run away from his problems but embraced them while letting himself go and genuinely connecting with the audience while singing the tracks.

“It was very spontaneous,” said Adria as she recalled the performance. Even though Petty could be pretty professional when rehearsing and performing, he was much more laid back at that set in Fillmore. Adria emphasized, “My dad was a taskmaster in terms of rehearsing the band and just really knowing how to get up and entertain people.”

However, Petty both had personal and professional problems at the time. She disclosed, “He was going through a divorce, he was changing his life dramatically, he was changing his band dramatically, and I think he’d been through a lot giving birth to ‘Wildflowers.’”

Adria continued, “I think he just took the pressure off of himself to play Tom Petty. And just allowed himself to be pretty close to home and be in one place and enjoy playing music and connect with his fans in a really deep and meaningful way. It was, for him, I think, a really liberating time. He felt super happy… and at ease and sort of like, he had entered this new phase of his life.”

Maybe Petty let himself go while performing for the first time and just decided to be himself. Fillmore’s welcoming community helped the singer feel comfortable and liberate himself as an entertainer. The show became special for Adria as she saw her father at ease and connecting with the fans.