Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes:
Earl Petty died in 1999. The losses were piling up. Though Tom Petty had not attended his mother’s funeral, he did fly to Gainesville to see his father off. “I went back there,” Petty says. “Bugs was with me. He drove me over to the funeral home. It was either a funeral home or a church. I can’t remember. I met my brother there. We went in, saw Earl there in the box, checked him out. He looked peaceful. We’d picked some music for them to play, some music that Earl liked. We didn’t stay long. Gainesville could be tricky to navigate.” But the scene wasn’t one of quiet rembrance and unencumbered farewells.
“After things had gone well enough, and we were getting ready to leave,” Petty says, “Earl’s twin sister, Pearl, shows up. And she just lets out this huge scream, like, ‘Nobody told me you were going to be here! Come here, come here!’ And I was like, ‘No, we’re leaving right now.’ And she’s grabbing my arm, insisting, ‘No, you can’t leave—I got stuff ya’ll gotta sign!’ I mean, I’m walking away from my dad’s coffin. It’s a hundred feet away from us, right? I’m thinking, ‘He’s your brother, for Christ’s sake, and you’re looking for autographs at his funeral?’ I’m just shaking my head. So we get in the car kind of as quick as we can, and we start to back out, and she’s at the window, banging on the window. And she gets her hand on the door handle of the car, trying to open the door. I just said, ‘Bugs, go.’ And we took off, with this screaming woman in the background. That was my father’s funeral.” The swamp had sent its ambassador.