Iconic rocker Tom Petty has died after being found in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home late last night. Petty was taken to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, where he was put on life support. Following retracted reports from news outlets claiming the 66-year-old musician had died earlier today, Petty’s representatives’ have now confirmed his death Monday night. A statement released by longtime Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers manager Tony Dimitriades reads:
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. 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.
Thomas Earl Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. Petty formed Mudcrutch in 1970 after which he dropped out of high school to focus on the band. The group moved to Los Angeles in 1974 after signing a record deal. In late 1975 Mudcrutch broke up, leading Petty and fellow Mudcrutchers keyboardist Benmont Tench and guitarist Mike Campbell to form The Heartbreakers with drummer Stan Lynch and bassist Ron Blair.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers issued their self-titled debut studio album on November 9, 1976. While the LP was a hit fairly quickly in the U.K., it took nearly a year to find an audience stateside. Both “Breakdown” and “American Girl” from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers went on to become staples on rock radio. The group released a sophomore effort, You’re Gonna Get It!, in 1978, which was the band’s first gold album thanks to the success of singles “I Need To Know” and “Listen To Her Heart.”
Petty and his band continued to put out hit albums and singles throughout the late ’70s and ’80s. Blair left in 1982 to be replaced by Howie Epstein, though Ron would return to the band after Epstein’s death. While Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers sold plenty of records, they were also known for their impressive live shows and toured frequently. In 1986 and 1987 the group backed Bob Dylan at a number of shows throughout the world.
In 1988, Tom Petty formed the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. The band put out Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 in 1988 and a second volume, cleverly titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, in 1990. Petty issued Full Moon Fever, an album under his own name, in 1989. He co-produced the LP with Lynne and scored hits with “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” Tom brought the Heartbreakers back for 1991’s Into The Great Wide Open, which was also a massive success.
While Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers toured throughout the ’90s, Petty issued 1994’s Wildflowers as a solo record. He would go on to use the group for the soundtrack to She’s The One in 1996, Echo in 1999, The Last DJ in 2002, Mojo in 2010 and Hypnotic Eye in 2014. 2006’s Highway Companion would be the last Petty solo album. In 2002, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
In 2008, Petty reunited with Mudcrutch to record and issue a self-titled solo album. He regrouped with the band for 2 last year and for a tour. This year was devoted to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers, a band which sold over 80 million records worldwide. Petty and his band hit the road in April and finished the tour at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25.
Tom Petty was 66.