Tom Petty of the Heartbreakers Dies of Cardiac Arrest at 66

Just when we thought 2017 would stop taking away our favorite musicians, we failed to realize that life is spontaneous. Rock and roll star Tom Petty, known for his work with his band the Heartbreakers, suffered a cardiac arrest and died earlier today.

Remembering Tom Petty

A Florida native, Petty endured a rough childhood and grew up with an alcoholic abusive father and a fearful mother. A handshake with Elvis Presley in 1961 provoked his interest in rock and roll, but it was the Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show that made him want to join a band. Petty dropped out of high school at 17 to play bass with his newly formed band Mudcrutch, and briefly worked as a groundskeeper for the University of Florida.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came about after Mudcrutch disbanded; original members Benmont Tench and and Mike Campbell collaborated with Petty, adding Ron Blair and Stan Lynch to create the first lineup of the Heartbreakers. He joined George Harrison’s group the “Travelling Wilburys” alongside Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. Petty released a total of 20 albums throughout his career, gaining a multitude of accolades and a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

One of the things people admire about Petty is his view on artistic control. He voiced his objections to the 1981 price hike of their album “Hard Promises” and even considered not delivering the album, but their label MCA eventually said no to the price hike. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers released “Dani California,” fans noted the similarities to his “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” It didn’t bother Petty at all, saying that he “…seriously doubt(s) that there is any negative intent there.” He even shrugged off The Strokes openly taking his track “American Girl” for their song “Last Nite,” but decided not to sue them because he doesn’t believe in lawsuits.

“I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”

One Last Media Circus

Petty suffered a cardiac arrest in his home in Malibu, California in the morning of October 2. Authorities responded to the call at 10:52 AM and while emergency responders were able to get his pulse back, he was already in critical condition. They rushed him to UCLA’s Santa Monica hospital but media outlets already began reporting his passing. The media retracted their reports one by one, but his family’s spokeswoman confirmed his death at 8:40 PM.

“On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

The official cause of death is yet to be announced. We’ll miss you, Tom Petty. Say hi to Bowie, Chris, and Chester for us.

Featured image from Billboard

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