Legendary rocker Tom Petty dies at 66

Singer and songwriter Tom Petty, one of rock’s greatest and most iconic figures, has died aged 66. The legendary rocker was rushed to a California hospital in the early hours of Monday after suffering cardiac arrest at his Malibu home, but later died. 

News of Petty’s death came via a statement posted on his official Facebook page by longtime manager Tony Dimitriades.

“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,” Dimitriades wrote.

“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.”

The sudden death came as a shock to many, not just because of his relatively young age, but also because Petty was onstage with his band the Heartbreakers just days earlier at the Hollywood Bowl as part of a massive world tour that was, according to Rolling Stone, set to be his last major tour with the band.

A seminal name in the rock ‘n’ roll scene since shortly after he loaded up a van and moved his first band, Mudcrutch, from Florida to Los Angeles in 1975, Petty is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern American songwriters.

Petty’s adoration for music began early, as he dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to focus solely on music. Petty joined guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboard player Benmont Tench in Mudcrutch, a popular Florida band at the time. The band broke up shortly after moving to the West Coast, but Petty had already secured a solo recording contract by then on Leon Russell’s label, Shelter Records.

Petty had no interest in recording solo, however, and shortly thereafter reunited with Campbell and Tench, along with bass player Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch, to form the band that would cement Petty’s name in history as one of the most indelible figures in American music, the Heartbreakers.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at Shoreline Amphitheatre on August 27, 1999 in Mountain View, California. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

The band’s first self-titled album didn’t chart stateside but, according to Biography, all that changed following a successful European tour in England with Nils Lofgren, which put the record on the U.K. charts. The band decided to rerelease their first single, Breakdown, and this time it hit number 40 on the charts. As Biography points out, the album also contained one of Petty’s best loved songs, American Girl, but the song didn’t chart until its rerelease two decades later.

The band returned to the studio in 1978 to record its second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, which fared better, charting at No. 23. But it was the band’s third album, Damn The Torpedoes (released under its new MCA label) that hit No. 2 upon its 1979 release, and included classic singles in Petty’s repertoire like Don’t Do Me Like That, and Refugee. From there, it was off to the races.

Petty had up-and-down success throughout the next few decades, though he never failed to resonate in the American consciousness for long. His incredible career included tours with megastars like Bob Dylan, as well as a side project, the Traveling Wilburys, with fellow musical legends Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.

Shortly after his stint with the Wilburys, Petty recorded his first solo album, the incredibly successful Full Moon Fever, which included well-worn radio gold in singles like I Won’t Back Down, Runnin’ Down a Dream, and perhaps Petty’s most famous tune, Free Fallin’.

Never failing to reunite with his Heartbreaker bandmates in between solo stints, Petty found lightning in a bottle once again with his 1994 solo album, Wildflowers, which included a new onslaught of radio-friendly instant classics like You Don’t Know How It Feels, and You Wreck Me, effectively introducing the rock superstar to an entire new generation of hungry listeners. It was around that time, in 1996, that Petty and his wife parted ways after 22 years. He was remarried a few years later in 2001 to longtime girlfriend Dana York, whom he credited with helping him get off drugs.

Personal battles aside, Petty was never out of the musical spotlight for long, continuously reaffirming his position as one of the most important and ubiquitous names in rock across multiple generations. He toured often, embarking on countless sold-out world tours (along with a 2008 Super Bowl halftime performance), DJ’d a radio show on Sirius XM, and returned to the studio occasionally to churn out more hits.

Petty left behind a legacy as one of the most memorable songwriters in rock. His songs have left an immeasurable impact on the American consciousness, rediscovered over and over by each generation thanks to his classic melodies, his instantly recognizable nasally voice, and his contagious love for all things music.

Petty is survived by his wife, two daughters, and a step son.

Update: Updated with confirmation of Petty’s death.


From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Move over Superman, Aquaman is here to save DC's live-action cinema universe

DC Comics' aquatic superhero Aquaman finally gets his solo feature with Jason Momoa in the title role, and director James Wan's adventure manages to avoid feeling waterlogged while offering up some amazing visuals and intense action.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.

Apple Music may sign up more exclusive artists with purchase of Platoon

Apple purchased London-based Platoon, which is a startup that helps independent musicians get discovered by major labels. The acquisition may help Apple Music sign up more exclusive artists.

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

Jam out in style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.

Spotify is the best streaming service, but its competitors aren’t far behind

It can be hard to decide which music streaming service is for you, so we've picked out the individual strengths of the most popular services, aiming to make your decision a little easier.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Home Theater

Radiohead, The Cure, and more to join Rock Hall of Fame. Listen to their hits

Radiohead, The Cure, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, and more have been selected to join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Here are our favorite songs from the four artists' hit-filled careers.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.