Singer Tom Petty has died. Tom Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released a statement late Monday on behalf of Petty’s family saying the rocker had died. There were erroneous reports he had passed earlier in the day.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Malibu said they responded to the singer’s Malibu home at 10:50 p.m. Sunday, and Petty was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest early Monday morning, according to Petty’s family.
He was 66 years old.
“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,” the statement reads. “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.”
Petty, who is best known for fronting the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, decided to pursue music at the age of 17. The singer told Grammys.com that he was inspired to become an artist after he saw the Beatles perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Thomas Earl Petty was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida and had a difficult upbringing due to a tumultuous relationship with his father. Petty dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to start the Epics and later Mudcrutch with future Heartbreakers members Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell. Mudcrutch eventually fell apart after a move to Los Angeles and Tom Petty started up the Heartbreakers with Campbell, Tench, Ron Blair, and Stan Lynch. The Heartbreakers gained traction in the U.K. first with the strength of Petty’s songwriting. “Breakdown” was released as a single in 1977 and it helped launch the Heartbreakers into one of the biggest bands in the United States.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their second and third records, which went on to sell millions of copies and solidifying the Heartbreakers as one of the biggest bands in the world. Tom Petty’s talents as songwriter were recognized by other musicians and he started to collaborate with other artists including Dave Stewart and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. Petty released his first solo album, Full Moon Fever, in 1988, which contained the smash hit song “Free Falling.” From there, Tom Petty joined a super group of classic rockers including George Harrison of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.