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Paramus Musician, 12, Showing Guitar Superstardom

Jake Thistle cites Tom Petty, John Hiatt, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and more as influences.
Jake Thistle cites Tom Petty, John Hiatt, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and more as influences. Video Credit: Anthony Locicero
Jake Thistle was invited on stage to play with John Hiatt, one of his idols.
Jake Thistle was invited on stage to play with John Hiatt, one of his idols. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Jake Thistle

PARAMUS, N.J.– Staying up to watch the Super Bowl XLII halftime show sparked an early interest in music for Jake Thistle of Paramus.

"He (Tom Petty) played the first chord of 'American Girl' and I was hooked," Thistle, 12, said.

The Eastbrook student began playing guitar when he was 9 after being gifted an axe by a family friend.

"It was too nice not to play it," Thistle said.

He learned how to play almost exclusively on YouTube and Skype and it wasn't long before he was playing local gigs.

Since then, he's been fortunate enough to play with and learn from some great musicians.

Early on, he played with Dave Gellis from Blood, Sweat and Tears. Gellis took an interest and gave Jake his first in-person lessons before going back on tour.

Musician Steve Lucas, a protégé of Les Paul, is Jake's main teacher, but it's more about how to read music.

Jake plays for local charities, the senior center and he's been hired for weddings, bar mitzvahs and Kilwins Confectionery Shop where he performs every weekend.

Tom Petty lead guitarist Mike Campbell thanked Jake for raising more than $1,800 for Campbell's charity Rock the Dogs.

Click here for more about Jack Thistle's music.

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