After a bit of confusion surrounding his health, it was announced that Tom Petty passed away Monday evening after suffering a cardiac arrest earlier that morning. The passionate singer, songwriter, and guitarist from the famed act the Heartbreakers was 66, and passed with his family, friends and bandmates by his side at UCLA Memorial Hospital just before 9 p.m.
Petty’s longstanding manager, Tony Dimitriades, issued the following statement confirming the situation:
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/FGCVI5yIaa
— Tom Petty (@tompetty) October 3, 2017
Petty rose to fame in the mid-’70s after forming the Heartbreakers, where he showcased his southern roots, overlaid with gruff vocals and earnest lyricism. The rockstar was not a slouch on the guitar either, where he typically stylized clean and mellow intros that would crescendo into chunky, singable choruses.
Songs like “Don’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin’,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and many more made Petty a frequent occupant on the Billboard charts. For nearly 40 years he released albums that reflected Americana culture, a rebel attitude, and most importantly, his own life experiences.
Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950, and although he suffered a rough childhood due to his father’s maltreatment, he did have a life-changing moment in 1961. This was when Petty had the opportunity to meet Elvis on the set of a movie he was filming in the neighboring town of Ocala, and afterwards, he wasted no time in picking up his first guitar and shuffling around local gigs.
Dropping out of high school at 17, Petty joined the southern rock group Mudcrutch, who were based in his hometown. As the group was taking off, they moved to Los Angeles, but before the band could record, their label lost confidence in the group, deciding only to retain Petty under contract. Thanks to this, he was able to secure a group of steady musicians and form the Heartbreakers in 1975, and the rest is history.