RIP: American Rock Icon Tom Petty

Tom Petty, a leader of the American rock scene for more than four decades and the voice behind some of the most memorable songs in the rock/pop catalog, died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest Monday evening. He was 66.

Petty, who had completed the 40th anniversary tour with Heartbreaker bandmates last week, was found unresponsive at his home in Malibu, California and rushed to the hospital where the decision was made to take him off life support when no brain activity was detected.

Long-time manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers issued the following statement on the band’s official website:

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 8:40PM PST surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends.

Petty, a native of Gainsville, Florida who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, cofounded the Heartbreakers 1976 in Los Angeles with guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench. Known for his urgent storytelling, Petty penned dozens of unforgettable songs, many with Mike Campbell, including more than two dozen Top 10 singles.

Songs like “Refugee,” “Runnin Down a Dream,” You Wreck Me,” on and on made Petty and crew an enduring presence on FM, and now classic rock, radio.

In 1987’s “I Won’t Back Down,” co-written with former Traveling Wilburys bandmate Jeff Lynne, Petty wrote: “You can stand me up at the gates of hell / But I won’t back down.” He never did.

Share your Tom Petty concert stories and favorite songs.

Rolling Stone Obituary


Tom Petty on Recording ‘Mojo’

Interview: Tom Petty On The Live Anthology Box Set

Interview: Heartbreaker Keyboardist Benmont Tench