Tom Petty Dies At 66
Tom Petty, whose long list of memorable hits include “American Girl,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’” died Monday after suffering a heart attack.
According to TMZ, the musician was found unconscious at his home in Malibu, California on Sunday night. EMTs called to the scene at around 10:45 p.m. Pacific time were reportedly able to find a pulse and rushed him to UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, where he was put on life support.
"On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend, Tom Petty," read a statement from his longtime manager Tony Dimitriades..
"He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 PM PST surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends."
The rocker's daughter Violette shared a series of photos and memories on Instagram. "He made all his dreams real," she wrote. "I feel grateful for having the greatest rock star as a dad."
In one post, she shared: "It's going to be healing to know I will never go a day without hearing his music. I love his class honesty and how strange and funny he is. Tom Petty is an American Icon because his heart has always put human rights first. We are one. I love you dad your songs are dreams manifested..
Petty's death was reported hours earlier after CBS News cited confirmation from the Los Angeles Police Department. But as the sad news spread around the world, the LAPD tweeted that it had no investigative role in Petty's hospitalization and that it could not confirm his death. TMZ reported that Petty was still "clinging to life" but was not expected to survive.
Tributes started pouring in. Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone in a statement: "It’s shocking, crushing news. I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him."
"no words. just thanks," tweeted filmmaker Cameron Crowe, one of many taking to social media.
"I loved Tom Petty and I covered his songs because I wanted know what it felt like to fly," tweeted John Mayer. "'You belong somewhere you feel free.'"
Paul Stanley of Kiss shared: "No! We have lost Tom Petty. From our opening act in the seventies to becoming a brilliant songwriter and performer I have loved his music."
Many Canadian artists shared their thoughts as well. Shania Twain captioned a photo with: "So sad to hear of the passing of Tom Petty. Such an incredible, inspiring artist. I'll treasure fond memories of our time spent together this past summer.”
Kiefer Sutherland tweeted: "Today America lost one of its musical giants. Thank you Tom Petty for all the music. To me you will live forever."
Country singer Brett Kissel shared: "He was a legend. An icon. The best of the best. 66 is too young to go. But heaven gained one of the greatest today. @TomPetty will be missed."
Toronto-based guitarist Philip Sayce tweeted: "Fly on, Tom Petty...Thank you for shining your light so brightly for all to see & learn from, & for making this world a better place. RIP."
And, Bryan Adams tweeted: "Thanks for all the great rockin' music, hard to believe you're gone."
Petty and his band the Heartbreakers just wrapped their 40th anniversary tour. The singer was forced to cancel two shows in August, reportedly due to laryngitis. The tour included July shows in Toronto and Ottawa and an August date in Vancouver.
“Thanks to everyone for supporting us for the last 40 years!,” read a message on Petty’s official Twitter account on Sept. 29. “Without YOU, there'd be no US!”
Petty, who was only 18 days away from his 67th birthday when he died, had two solo shows scheduled in New York City in November.
Last December, Petty told Rolling Stone the anniversary tour would likely be his last big tour.
"It's very likely we'll keep playing, but will we take on 50 shows in one tour? I don't think so. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was thinking this might be the last big one," he said. "We're all on the backside of our sixties."
Petty was born and raised in Florida and dropped out of high school when he was 17 to join a band. In 2006, he told NPR he knew he wanted to be a musician when he saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
“There was the way out. There was the way to do it,” he said. “You get your friends and you're a self-contained unit. And you make the music. And it looked like so much fun. It was something I identified with.
“I really saw in the Beatles that here's something I could do. I knew I could do it.”
In 1976, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released a self-titled debut album. It was followed by 12 more studio albums — with the last being 2014’s Hypnotic Eye.
Petty also recorded three solo studio albums between 1989 and 2006 and three albums with the Traveling Wilburys between 1988 and 2007.
He, who had three Grammys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
The musician also dabbled in acting, appearing as himself in several episodes of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show. His credits include the 1997 film The Postman.
Petty voiced an animated version of himself in a 2012 episode of The Simpsons. He also voiced Elroy Kleinschmidt in the animated series King of the Hill for five years.
In 2015, Petty and co-writer Jeff Lynne reached a settlement with singer Sam Smith over similarities between Smith’s hit “Stay With Me” and Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
Petty has two daughters, Adria and Anna, with his first wife Jane Benyo — to whom he was married for 22 years – and one granddaughter. He married Dana York in 2001.
This article was updated since it was first published.