According to Billboard, Tom Petty has died at the age of 66 after suffering cardiac arrest at his home around 11 A.M. PST this morning. He was transported to UCLA Medical Center earlier today, reportedly with no brain activity. Initial reports of his death much earlier today were retracted after it was announced that information from the Los Angeles Police Department was inadvertently released to a few press outlets. This evening Tony Dimitriades, who is the longtime manager of Petty’s band Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, made the official announcement regarding the death of the rock legend.
“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,” said Dimitriades in a statement. “He died peacefully at 8:40pm PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
Petty had been very active in the months leading up to his tragic death, recently wrapping up a 2017 tour with appearances as festivals such as Kaaboo and Arroyo Seco Music Festival. He had played on the third night of Kaaboo a little over two weeks ago and wrapped up a three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl just last week.
Petty, who was born in Gainseville, FL, made a name for himself as one of the most likeable and versatile rock songwriters of his time. Along with his band The Heartbreakers, the straw-haired musician unloaded some of the most iconic and influential anthems of the 70s and 80s, songs like “Renegade,” “American Girl,” “Free Fallin'” and more. His appeal was nearly instant and widespread, with nifty song structures, vivid lyricism and unforgettable hooks coloring much of his long and storied discography.
He was also a part of several bands throughout his career. He joined his first band, The Sundowners, at the age of 14. Later, he would become a member of The Epics, who would change their name to Mudcrutch. While that band did not make a dent during Petty’s early days, he resurrected the band recently and released two full length albums. He also performed with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison during the late 80s as The Traveling Wilburys, who also released a pair of LPs.
Photo Credit: Brett Padelford