Rock Legend Tom Petty Dead at 66

The musician suffered cardiac arrest a week after he and his group the Heartbreakers had concluded their 40th anniversary tour.

  • Published 2 October 2017
  • Updated 2 October 2017

Singer-songwriter Tom Petty, famed for his songs about love and Los Angeles, has died after suffering a cardiac arrest at his Malibu home. 

Petty was taken off of life support at a Los Angeles-area hospital on 2 October 2017, after being hospitalized following a heart attack. The gossip site TMZ wrote that life support had been pulled for Petty due to a lack of brain activity, and Rolling Stone later reported that his death had been confirmed through longtime Heartbreakers manager Tony Dimitriades:

On behalf of the Tom Petty family 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 8:40pm PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends….

Some confusion about Petty’s condition followed news of his collapse. After initial reports of his death were published by news outlets, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced via Twitter that “initial information was inadvertantly [sic] provided to some media sources,” adding that the LAPD was not investigating Petty’s hospitalization. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the hospital declined to comment, and an e-mail to his publicist was not immediately returned.

The Florida native, who moved to Los Angeles in 1974, had a rock career that stretched across several decades, beginning as the lead singer and featured member of Mudcrutch, then Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers:

“We fell in love with L.A. within an hour of being there,” Petty told author Paul Zollo in the 2005 book Conversations With Tom Petty (CWTP). “We just thought this is heaven. We said, ‘Look — everywhere there’s people making a living playing music. This is the place.'” In 1976, the first Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album hit, and aside from touring with the band, he’s never left town. His songs are indelibly linked with the cityscape, sometimes explicitly but more often in hints — that rare ability of a gifted lyricist to generalize the intimate.

He also embarked on a successful solo career and was a founding member of the rock supergroup The Traveling Wilburys.

Petty won a Grammy award during each of those phases of his career, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside the Heartbreakers in 2002. He also moonlighted as an actor, playing himself in some projects but also appearing on the animated show King of the Hill for several seasons, where he provided the voice of Elroy “Lucky” Kleinschmidt.

Petty was hospitalized on 2 October 2017, a week after he and the Heartbreakers played their last show in Hollywood on 25 September 2017, the final of the band’s 40th anniversary tour, after he was found unconscious in full cardiac arrest in his Malibu home.

Petty was 66.
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