Legendary rocker Tom Petty died today in Los Angeles, just a week after wrapping up a lengthy 40th anniversary tour in the City of Angels. He would have been 67 years old this month.
According to TMZ, Petty was found unresponsive due to cardiac arrest in his Malibu home. He was rushed to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and put on life support, which was pulled because of a lack of brain activity and a “do not resuscitate” order.
TMZ initially reported that Petty had died, citing law enforcement sources, but updated their report Monday afternoon to say the singer was “still clinging to life.”
“The LAPD has no information about the passing of singer Tom Petty. Initial information was inadvertantly provided to some media sources,” the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted. “However, the LAPD has no investigative role in this matter. We apologize for any inconvenience in this reporting.”
Hours later, it was confirmed that Petty had passed.
“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,” longtime manager Tony Dimitriades said in a statement. “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 8:40 p.m. PST surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends.”
Petty had wrapped up a 24-state, 53-show tour one week ago with a performance at the Hollywood Bowl, at which he reportedly thanked fans for “40 years of a really great time.” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ website says the three “hometown shows” in L.A. were picked to close out the band’s 40th anniversary tour.
His last set list opened with “Rockin’ Around With You,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” He included favorites like “Breakdown,” “Free Fallin’,” “Learning to Fly,” and “Refugee” before wrapping up with “You Wreck Me” and “American Girl.”
The band was scheduled to go back on the road next month, with concert dates Nov. 8 and 9 at the Iridium in New York.
Petty gave his sole tour interview to Rolling Stone. “It’s still a wild pace,” he said. “I might be away for two years, but I’ve worked myself to death on different projects, you know?”
In a 2006 Esquire interview, Petty reflected on his work with the supergroup Traveling Wilburys (Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Petty). “The great thing about the Wilburys was that none of us had to take the heat by ourselves. I was just a member of the band,” he said. “Nobody felt like he was above anybody else. We had such a good time.”
“I couldn’t exist nowadays,” Petty told the magazine. “I could never have built a career like I’ve had if I were just starting out now. Radio doesn’t take a chance on anything anymore; they’ve streamlined the playlists to the lowest common denominator. It’s really kind of silly that they think people would rather hear “Stairway to Heaven” one more time than a new song.”
Of the ballad “Free Fallin’,” off his 1989 solo album “Full Moon Fever,” Petty called it “a very good song.”
“Maybe it would be one of my favorites if it hadn’t become this huge anthem,” he added. “But I’m grateful that people like it.”