Tributes pour in to Tom Petty, dead at 66

Very sad news from the States yesterday (in a day of sad news for the States yesterday) with the death of Tom Petty who is about as near to a living americana icon as you get. Rolling Stone reports: “Tom Petty, the dynamic and iconoclastic frontman who led the band the Heartbreakers, died Monday. He was 66. Petty’s death was confirmed by Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, on behalf of the family. 

“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 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends,” Dimitriades wrote.

On Sunday, Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home, according to TMZ, where he was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. EMTs were able to find a pulse when they found him, but TMZ reported that the hospital found no brain activity when he arrived. A decision was made to pull life support.

“It’s shocking, crushing news,” Petty’s friend and Traveling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently completed a summer tour last Monday with three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. The trek marked the band’s 40th anniversary and found him playing rarely played deep cuts like their first album’s opener, “Rockin’ Around (With You),” and a selection of Wildflowers cuts. It was intended to be his “last trip around the country.” He told Rolling Stone, though, that it wasn’t his intention to quit playing. “I need something to  do, or I tend to be a nuisance around the house,” he said.

You can read the extensive obituary over on RS here  In the meantime, Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams and others from the americana world have tweeted tributes.


About Mark Whitfield 2018 Articles
Editor of Americana UK website, the UK's leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)
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Andy Riggs

Sad news indeed – never made a duff record – into the great wide open

Jonathan Aird

Tom Petty will always, of course, be associated with his songs American Girl, Refugee, Louisiana Rain – and the whole of Southern Accents. But even relatively overlooked albums like She’s The One (soundtrack), Echoes and Last DJ were full of superb songs – the first half of Last DJ was basically Petty’s take on “Wish you were here”.

But perhaps the most impressive thing he ever did was that he became a peer of his heroes – recording and writing with Roger McGuinn, forming a band with Dylan and a Beatle. And he just fitted in – he belonged, he’d just turned up a few years late.

Andy Riggs

As you say even the overlooked records stacked full of fine songs – I likes ‘She’s The One’ with Lindsey Buckingham & Carl Wilson. Some days are diamonds.

Andy Riggs

The word “legend” gets tossed around a lot, but no one can argue that when Tom Petty passed away at the age of 66, the world did lose an actual legend. For all his success, through all the fame, and for all his popularity, one thing everyone who knew him seemed to agree on was that he was precisely the persona he projected on stage. That’s reflected in what he once told Esquire: “Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” Wise words. What else should you know about him?