Peter Getty—musician, producer, writer and philanthropist—was born in New York City in 1965. At the age of three, his family (his father is Gordon Peter Getty, former CEO of Getty Oil) moved to San Francisco, where he lived, more or less, for the next decade. He spent two years (1974-1976) at Heatherdown Preparatory School in England (David Cameron was a classmate and friend), then returned home and finished at the Town School for Boys in San Francisco. From 1979 to 1983, he attended high school at Exeter Academy. He was accepted to Harvard University, where he majored in English and American Literature. He took a year off from his studies at Harvard to work as a copy editor at Grove Press, graduating with a degree in English in 1987.
After working at Grove Press, Getty decided he’d rather pursue a career in music than in publishing—his father, a composer of symphonic and operatic music, had taught him to play the piano by ear at the age of two—and he began to focus on singing and songwriting. While still at Harvard, he started a band with his roommate, Charlie Fulton; this was the early incarnation of Virgin-Whore Complex, which he and Fulton officially formed five years after graduating, in 1992. Getty, who performed under the stage name Spats Ransom, was the primary songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist; Fulton played keyboard. The pair later added multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Deb Fox.
The indie-pop trio released two well-received albums, in 1996 and 1998, respectively. But they split up shortly after the release of their second LP, as the members drifted into alternate careers. Getty turned his focus to managing his boutique record label, Emperor Norton—both Virgin-Whore Complex LPs were released under the label, as were albums by Air, Ugly Duckling, and Fantastic Plastic Machine—as well as to writing, producing, and supporting various philanthropic organizations. But his leisure time was spent on one of his greatest passions: watching professional sports.
His love for sports took root early, with the first game he attended, at age nine: the San Francisco Giants home opener against the Houston Astros, in 1972. That memory stands out for him because he got to shake Mayor Joe’s Alioto’s hand at the ballpark—a huge, unforgettable deal for a nine-year-old boy. He was also a fan of the Oakland As, and recalls seeing Reggie Jackson hit two home runs in a single game.
Peter Getty believes he was drawn first to baseball because, growing up, he enjoyed playing catch with his dad. And although he participated in all the usual childhood team sports—baseball, basketball, soccer, and a little bit of football—he was, he readily admits, “awful” at all of them, with baseball providing the only (slight) satisfaction. He couldn’t throw, couldn’t field, and was, in his words, “the worse base runner you ever saw,” but he could whack a baseball, hard.
His love of baseball led him to other sports. During his adolescent years, he became especially fond of the Warriors. Rick Barry’s granny shots were what initially snagged him. He even attended Barry’s Basketball Camp, at age 11, but never got to meet him, to his youthful dismay.
Football took him longer to understand—and he still occasionally finds its strategy opaque. It didn’t help that the 49s were a fairly mediocre team when he was a child. Because they only started to improve when he was away at boarding school—this was the era of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Bill Walsh— he never got into the habit of attending games at Candlestick Park. To this day, he prefers watching football on television, the way many diehard fans believe it should be watched.
Peter Getty loves his hometown teams, and, like any good sports fan, he often thinks he knows what’s best for them. This is why he’s looking forward not just to attending the games, but also to writing about them.