Iconic U.S. rocker Tom Petty has passed away according to a statement released by his family.
Petty was discovered in his Malibu home on Monday. He was unconscious and not breathing, as well as in full cardiac arrest.
Though he was taken to the hospital, Petty could not be revived despite a brief period of uncertainty regarding his health. He slipped away later that evening, after the decision was made to stop life support due to a lack of brain activity. His passing will be investigated by the Los Angeles County coroner.
Petty was an iconic musician, leaving behind a legacy of hit songs, musical awards, and widespread influence across numerous genres. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
He is perhaps best known as the front man of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. His songs Breakdown, Refugee, American Girl, and Free Fallin’ have garnered and maintained considerable popularity over the years.
Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950. His father was an insurance salesman, and beat him when he didn’t do well in school. Petty used music as a release, and experienced a life-changing instance when he met Elvis Presley in 1961. The preteen Petty got his first guitar soon after, quitting high school at 17 and joining Mudcrutch, a southern-rock band that was gaining traction at the time.
The move led to Petty working extensively with guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench. He would continue to collaborate with these musicians for the next 50 years. After the band split up following a move to Los Angeles, Petty saw his solo career start in the mid-70s. Though his band’s initial album failed to capture public interest, it slowly built up as the group toured the UK.
Petty has been laying down tracks with rock, folk, and even country stars for decades. In the late 80s, he recorded multiple Grammy-winning albums with the likes of Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers completed a summer tour with a trio of nights at the Hollywood Bowl. While the event marked the 40th anniversary for the group, the musician had stated previously he didn’t intend to stop doing what he did best.
Most of his albums reached gold or platinum status. Hypnotic Eye debuted at number one just three years ago, showing the musician still had the style and creativity that had made him a legend.
Petty ran into some difficulties with his label over the years, mainly due to signing away the publishing rights to his songs. He ended up bankrupt before the 80s, due to a contract issue with his label. He bounced back quickly, building up his credibility in the industry.
Only two years later, Petty was able to standup to his label, effectively getting them to change their mind on charging a higher price for his LP following up “Damn the Torpedoes.” Petty also achieved success outside of music, landing several acting and voice-acting roles.