Tom Petty has died after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California. Petty and his band the Heartbreakers had just completed their 40th anniversary tour, a tour Petty hinted towards being their last.
“I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country. We’re all on the backsides of our 60s. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road. This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time,” Petty told Rolling Stone last year.
The artist was continuing to perform at the age of 66, which is longer than most people work, with 63 being the average age of retirement.
Tony Dimitriades, manager of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, announced in a statement Monday evening, “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 PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
Petty, usually backed by the Heartbreakers, went on to sell more than 80 million records over the course of his renowned career. Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, when they were described as “durable, resourceful, hard-working, likeable, and unpretentious.”
In 2014, Petty told The Associated Press he thought of himself as “kind of a music historian,” around the same time he received an ASCAP Founders Award.
Tom Petty was an artist who stood out amongst the thousands of musicians of his generation. About 173,000 people worked as musicians in 2014, and many of them counted Petty among their influences. Petty was loved for his melodic hard rock, down-to-earth style, and nasally vocals. His songs were always popular, even being used in films “Cars 3,”The Silence of the Lambs,” and “Sing,” among many others.
The artist didn’t just sing about not backing down; it was something he stuck with in real life. In 1979, his record label was sold and his contract transferred. Stating that he would not be “bought and sold like a piece of meat,” he declared bankruptcy rather than allowing his label to release “Damn the Torpedoes,” which he financed himself.
Petty often spoke of being consumed by rock music since his early childhood.
“I’m always interested in the older music, and I’m still discovering things that I didn’t know about. To be honest, I really probably spend more time listening to the old stuff than I do the new stuff.”