A Tom Petty tribute, by the John Ginty Band at First Night Morris

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It’s still hard to believe Tom Petty is gone.

“Man, that was way too early, it was way too soon,” John Ginty said at First Night Morris 2018, before launching into a full-throttle tribute to the rock legend who died last October at age 66.

Ginty, a wizard on the Hammond B-3 organ, called Heartbreakers’ keyboard player Benmont Tench “an unbelievable inspiration,” and said Petty’s influence on Ginty’s bandmates even extended to their stage attire.

“Tom was one of those songwriters that really kind of changed the world. He was that influential,” said Ginty, a Morristown High School grad (’90) who has performed with Robert Randolph, the Dixie Chicks and Santana, among other big acts.

He knows the Heartbreakers are broken-hearted.

“We feel for those guys,” he said.

Ginty’s band did Petty proud with a sizzling performance on one of the coldest New Year’s Eves that anyone can remember. The group segued from You Wreck Me to Ginty’s Peanut Butter, from his album Bad News Travels.

Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove and Kevin Coughlin

John Ginty rocks his Hammond B3--literally--at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Moe Watson of The John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
John Ginty performs at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Justine Gardner of The John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jimmy Bennett guests with The John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Moe Watson of the John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
John Ginty and Jimmy Bennett at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
John Ginty at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
MHS alum John Ginty performs at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MPAC crowd for The John Ginty Band at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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Fellow Morristowner Mike Buckman manned the guitar, Moe Watson handled drums and Justine Gardner played bass.

They were joined at Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center by guitar-slingers Bill Kelly, who sang lead on You Wreck Me, and Jimmy Bennett, of the Bennett Brothers and Alexis P. Suter’s group.

Here’s a bonus video, of Ginty’s crew roaring through Damage Control, an original tune:

MORE FIRST NIGHT 2018 COVERAGE

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