Tom Petty died Monday night at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Petty’s death was confirmed a day after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu. The legendary singer had just wrapped up a 40th-year-anniversary tour.
Tom is one of the icons of the modern rock era, not only a key figure in rock music but a bridge between the classic rock of the 1960s and the arena rock of the late ’70s and ’80s.
Tom Petty, the legendary musician behind ‘Free Fallin,’ ‘American Girl,’ ‘Don’t Do Me Like That,’ and ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ was found unconscious and in full cardiac arrest on Sunday evening.
He was rushed from his Malibu home to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, TMZ reported. While the singer was maintained on life support, his spokesperson Carla Sacks announced the sad news of him passing away on Monday.
Petty’s family said on Monday evening Tom was “surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends.”
Petty and his longtime band the Heartbreakers had recently completed a 40th-anniversary tour. He hinted would be their last.
He’s survived by his wife Dana York, his two daughters Adria and Kimberly Violette with his ex-wife Jane Beyo, as well as a grandchild.
Remembering Tom Petty
Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, in 1950. Before becoming a music legend, Petty had a rough upbringing with an abusive father and saw music as his ticket out.
“Music,” he recalled to Men’s Journal, “was a safe place.”
The rocker credits his musical awakening to a chance meeting with Elvis Presley in 1961. The “King of Rock and Roll” was working on a movie nearby and after the two were introduced, a young Petty told his family he was going to be a rock star.
Years later, Petty started the band Mudcrutch in 1970, but his real success came in the late ‘70s with the birth of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The band’s second album in 1978 was a hit with songs like ‘Listen To Her Heart.’
The band relocated to Los Angeles and defied the odds by remaining on good terms.
In 2017, they embarked on their 40th-anniversary tour. Last week, he wrapped up a long leg of the tour with three sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl.
His long and prosper career
The Heartbreakers released 13 different albums while Petty released three solo albums. He played with the supergroup The Traveling Wilbury’s and also reunited with his first band Mudcrutch for some tour dates around the U.S.H
He even became a part of American songwriters who captured day-to-day life like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Carole King and Stevie Nicks.
The Americana and the heartland-style artist was also early to embrace the music video era. Perhaps most famously with 1985’s Alice in Wonderland and Mad Hatter-inspired video for ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ from Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s Southern Accents album.
Petty was not only musician and producer but also a big advocate for artists’ rights over the years. Especially in the past decade as he filed a termination notice with his label so he could gain access to his own music rights in 2011 and, most recently, won royalties for Smith’s ‘Stay With Me.’
In 2014, around the time he received an ASCAP Founders Award, he told The Associated Press that he thought of himself as “kind of a music historian.”
“I’m always interested in the older music, and I’m still always discovering things that I didn’t know about,” he said.
“To be honest, I really probably spend more time listening to the old stuff than I do the new stuff.”
Shocking news in an unexpected time
The sad news is all the more unexpected considering Petty just wrapped up his 40th-anniversary tour with his band the Heartbreakers. They concluded with a show at the Hollywood Bowl last Monday, September 25.
Ominously, Petty told Rolling Stone last year around the time that the tour with the Heartbreakers was announced that this would be his last one.
“I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” Petty said.
“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.”
“We’re all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road,” he added. This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time.”
“This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time.”
Petty’s final tour was one of the country’s top-grossing, clocking in at #9, with over $1.6 million in ticket sales.
During an October 2015 interview with Men’s Journal, Petty reflected on his famous determination.
“Probably the greatest achievement you can reach is when you’re able to forgive the most heinous thing in your life. I forgive anyone. That’s where I’ve arrived. And if I’m not successful at that, I forgive myself,” he said with a smile.