Remembering Tom Petty’s Earliest Chicago Gig

By Frank E. Lee

Today we remember the late Tom Petty on XRT, a man who has done numerous memorable shows in Chicago over the years including a whole week of performances at the Vic Theater fondly remembered as PettyMania.

But one of his early gigs (I believe his second appearance in Chicago) happened on December 2nd, 1977 at the Riviera.  This was a three dollar XRT budget show. The opening act was Elvis Costello and the Attractions, who played a frantic, 80 song 40 minute set (just a couple of weeks before their infamous false start performance filling in for the Sex Pistols gig on Saturday Night Live.)

In between acts, bootleg Rolling Stones recordings were played over the PA and then a solid 80 minute set from the headliners, who were being marketed as new wave punkers but were a traditional American band at their heart. The rest is history.

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