Tom Petty, best known as the frontman for the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died of a heart attack Monday at the age of 66, his longtime manager confirmed.
“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,” said Tony Dimitriades in a statement.” “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.”
Petty and the Heartbreakers rose to fame in the 1970’s, and continued to perform over the past four decades. They produced a string of hits including “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Refugee”, “American Girl,” “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “Breakdown,” “Listen to Her Heart” and many more.
With 1989’s “Full Moon Fever”, which included the megahit “Freefallin’, Petty established a successful solo career, releasing three top 10 albums. He also reached the higher end of the charts on two albums as a member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.
Petty played his last show last Monday as he and the Heartbreakers performed three sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl to close out their 40th anniversary tour. The tour was meant to be the band’s final trek around the country. He told Rolling Stone, however, that he didn’t intend to quit completely. “I need something to do, or I tend to be a nuisance around the house,” he said.
Petty was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. He said he wanted to become a musician when he was 13 and saw The Beatles play on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He told Grammy.com, “This was the great moment in my life, really, that changed everything. I had been a fan up to that point. But this was the thing that made me want to play music.” He added, “It did have a great profound effect on my life, and I thank them for that. I still think the Beatles [made] the best music ever, and I’m sure I’ll go to my grave thinking the same thing.”
Petty told CNN in a 2007 interview that he loved music as much as it loved him.
“Music, as far as I have seen in the world so far, is the only real magic that I know,” he said. “There is something really honest and clean and pure and it touches you in your heart.”