A white Fender Stratocaster signed by Tom Petty and the members of his band the Heartbreakers. Serial #MX17905635. This guitar was donated by Fender to the Save Starlight Initiative, an organization working to save the deteriorating Starlight Bowl theater in Balboa Park, San Diego. When Petty played at the KAABOO Del Mar music festival only 15 days before he unexpectedly died at age 66, he and his band members signed this guitar on behalf of a campaign to save the deteriorating Starlight theater.
Save Starlight is a non-profit organization that is working to restore, revive, and revitalize Starlight Bowl - an open-air amphitheater in the heart of San Diego's Balboa Park. From their site: "The Bowl has been closed since 2012, and has fallen into disrepair. We envision a venue for open-air performances, concerts, cinema, festivals, plays, community events, and musical theater. We imagine a new generation of diverse performances, a stage for the San Diego community hosting magical entertainment experiences. Our goal is to preserve the Bowl's heritage, ensure accessibility, and use creative technology to address opportunities and challenges for its location and architecture."
In the early 80s and 90's major acts such as Santana, Jerry Garcia Band, Bob Dylan, The Ramones, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lynyrd Skynard, The Doobie Brothers and dozens of others performed at Starlight. However, concerts were eventually forgotten as focus turned to musical theatre productions up until the theatre's closing in 2011. Bringing back concert performances is part of Save Starlight's vision for the theater's future.
The story of this guitar began when Starlight Advisor, Alan Ames, and Community Outreach specialist, Jamie McGuffee, started a Celebrity Auction fundraising campaign. They began to contact artists playing in surrounding areas, starting with a signed guitar donated by Active Music, and signed by Buddy Guy and Ani Difranco. Their ultimate goal is to collect over 20 celebrity autographed guitars to be showcased and auctioned off to raise funds for Starlight's future.
With Tom Petty, Jamie was able to contact Richard Fernandez, his tour manager, and ask that Tom participate. The response was yes, but that it definitely had to be a Fender guitar! Jamie got the word of Tom's involvement to Fender Corporation and the company, loving the idea, overnighted a new Fender Stratocaster donated to Save Starlight. Virgin Records and Jenn Perell from KAABOO Festival learned the story, and got involved. On the night of Tom''s performance, Save Starlight's CEO, Steve Stopper, brought the guitar to the festival and Jenn personally took it to the band's dressing room, and then handed it back to Steve at the end of the night. Jenn told Steve that Tom Petty played it and liked the guitar, then he and his bandmates all signed.
The profits from this guitar will go towards Save Starlight's efforts to revive Starlight Bowl.