WATERVILLE — As “Runnin’ Down a Dream” played Tuesday over the Bull Moose Music speakers, store manager Todd Maheu said that nobody else has a voice like Tom Petty.

“When you hear it, you just know it’s Petty,” Maheu said. “He’s legendary.”

Petty, the superstar front man of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died Monday night in Los Angeles after reportedly having a heart attack earlier in the day at his home in Malibu, California. He was taken to UCLA Medical Center and died peacefully surrounded by family, friends and band mates, according to a statement from his manager.

The three-time Grammy winner, 66, played two shows in Maine during his 40-year career — July 2, 1980, at the Augusta Civic Center and Aug. 31, 2014, in Portland at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Anytime a big-name singer or musician dies, Maheu said, there is an uptick in business and an increase in people coming to the store wanting to buy albums or CDs.

“He’ll get a lot more rotation in the store and we’ll have a little display,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of people coming for the next week.”

Jennie Patterson, of Burnham, planned to visit the store Tuesday morning to look for Elvis Presley music, but she ended up remembering Petty, who had just completed a 40th anniversary tour with his band last week in Hollywood.

“He was an amazing guitarist and a great musician,” she said while mentioning “Free Fallin'” as one of her favorite Petty songs. “He had magic, talent and natural ability that came out of his soul.”

The Gainesville, Florida, native sold more than 80 million records and collaborated with the likes of Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Stevie Nicks. He’s known for songs including “I Won’t Back Down,” “Refugee,” and “American Girl.”

Ed DesJardins, a musician from Readfield who plays Petty covers often during sets in Hallowell and around central Maine, said it felt like a smack in the head when he learned of Petty’s death. He said he wasn’t just a rock star, but he seemed like a really good guy who meant a lot to a lot of people.

“I’ve been listening to his songs for so many years, and they played during so many moments in my life,” he said. “They are the songs in my head when I think back to those moments.”

DesJardins said writing songs isn’t easy, but Petty was a master. He said he was one of just a few songwriters who are able to say simple words without cryptic messaging or flashy language.

“He’d say a simple line and it was always clear what he meant,” he said. “He was an original.”

Many people have used the word ‘real’ to describe Petty’s lyrics and songs. Patterson said she liked Petty’s music because the lyrics sounded as though he was singing about experiences or encounters he’s had in his life. It made him relatable to the average person, she said. She said he’ll be missed.

“You don’t think about it when you hear them on the radio, because you just think they’ll always be here,” she said.

For local radio personality Jon James, Petty’s music was the soundtrack of his youth and teen years. He said he played a few Petty songs this morning on Cruisin’ 93.5, and James remembered Petty as a great lyricist and legendary guitarist.

“He had no problem making his guitar talk and making it do whatever he wanted it to do,” James said while comparing Petty to other great guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards. “His guitar riffs were legendary.”

The Maine Sunday Telegram on June 29, 1980, wrote that the show “promises to be one of the highlights of the summer concert season. Tom Petty is one of today’s top rockers and you should see him work.” Writer Doug Warren wrote that Petty was an important and successful artist because of his ability to draw on the best of the past, reshape it, update it and make it his own.

When Petty made his only appearance in Augusta — with opening act Tommy “867-5309” Tutone as his opening act — as part of the “Damn the Torpedoes” tour, he treated more than 4,100 fans at the civic center to a 90-minute show the Kennebec Journal called “awesome.”

“Crowd control was his for the asking, and the slightest body language got him the audible response he was looking for,” staff writer Bob Datz wrote. “The skinny blonde would move lizard-like across the stage, his nervous system in synch with the mesh of the Heartbreakers.”

Civic center director Earl Kingsbury said the average ticket price for that show was $9.29 and that the concert promoter probably chose Augusta because of its location and ample parking.

“It was attractive (for those reasons), and because it was comparable to the other arenas in Bangor and Portland at the time,” Kingsbury said.

The Augusta Civic Center still can attract big-time acts, Kingsbury said, such as Sugarland, which performed a couple of years ago when it was among the biggest acts in country music.

“We just have to find time in the schedule, because we’re just a busy building,” he said. The civic center welcomes about 320,000 people per year and hosts events on 240 to 250 days each year, the director said.

James said if he had not been recovering from a car accident in 1980, he would have been in the crowd 37 years ago at the Augusta Civic Center. He said Petty’s lyrics were completely his, and he said he had a certain amount of soul in his voice and the way he delivered the lyrics.

“Runnin’ Down a Dream,” off 1989’s “Full Moon Fever,” is one of James’ favorite Petty songs. He said the track, which reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, epitomizes what Petty did as an artist.

“It highlighted his vocals, his guitar and his ability to write and play melodies,” he said.

Nick Murray, of Winslow, was perusing the rows of music at Bull Moose on Tuesday morning and said he liked Petty from the very first time he heard “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” The former Bull Moose employee said Petty’s music wasn’t too loud or heavy, so it was perfect for him to play while he was working.

Murray, 24, said he grew up with friends who liked Petty, and he said he had a voice that could be recognized immediately.

“I’ve never heard a person say they hate Tom Petty,” Murray said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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