Tom Petty, the much-loved frontman from The Heartbreakers has died, aged 66. He was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home Sunday night, 1 October and rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.
Throughout the day on Monday, multiple media outlets erroneously reported his death and later retracted those reports; his death was confirmed Monday night by his family’s spokeswoman and his longtime manager Tony Dimitriades who also shared a statement Monday evening. A cause has not been announced.
“On behalf of the Tom Petty family,” said Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. 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 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently completed a summer tour last Monday with three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. The lengthy tour of duty marked the band’s 40th anniversary and found Petty playing rarely played selections like their debut opener, ‘Rockin’ Around (With You),’ and a selection of Wildflowers cuts. The tour was intended to be his “last trip around the country.”
“It’s shocking, crushing news,” his longtime friend and The Travelling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan said. “I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”
In a 2006 interview, Petty told US radio show Fresh Air, he knew he wanted to be in a band “the minute I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show” while still a child in Florida. After a stint with his first serious band Mudcrutch, he duly formed Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1977. In the late Seventies, Petty’s romanticized tales of rebels, outcasts and refugees started climbing the pop charts and his lived-in, heartfelt voice perfectly complemented The Heartbreakers’ ragged, but glorious rock and roll.
The Heartbreakers scored multi-platinum smashes with albums such as 1979’s Damn The Torpedoes and ‘91’s Into The Great Wide Open. Petty later enjoyed considerable success with rock supergroup The Travelling Wilburys (also featuring George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne) and his first solo album, 1989’s Full Moon Fever peaked at No 3 on the US Billboard 200; yielding a string of evergreen hits including ‘Free Fallin’, ‘I Won’t Back Down’ and ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream.’ His most recent studio set, Hypnotic Eye, debuted at No 1 in the US in 2014.
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002, while in December 2005, Petty was honoured with Billboard’s Century Award – the organization’s highest honour for creative achievement – during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
This story is still developing.