Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes:
Petty remembers a line of Cadillacs, every one of them white, pulling up on Ocala’s Main Street. Men with pompadours and mohair suits stepped from the cars, as if the whole thing was choreographed. When Elvis emerged, he was other worldly in his beauty. You could dress up the star’s entourage to look just like him, but it would only underscore the contrast between Elvis and anyone around him. Presley’s was a freak beauty. Jernigan made introductions, and Elvis shook Tom Petty’s hand. The boy stared up at the star, unable to do more than that. Fans were everywhere in the streets of Ocala, making it difficult for the filmmakers. Within days, Petty says, he traded his slingshot for a box of 45s, many of them Presley classics. Elvis became a symbol of a place Tom Petty wanted to go. In time, the Beatles would be the map to get there. When it came, the British Invasion was, of course, a Copernican revolution. Ed Sullivan was the mechanism through which the core message was delivered: you can do this. A generation heard it. In fucked-up homes across America, an alternative was presented. For Tom Petty, from that point on it was going to be a battle about many things, the length of his hair and the state of his report cards among them, the opponents being father and school. But life would begin to display its offerings. He had only a few years to wait. Lying awake through those nights, waiting, he could see Elvis’s face, hear the songs in his head.