LOS ANGELES (ABC News) – Singer Tom Petty has died, ABC News has confirmed.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Malibu said they responded to the singer’s Malibu home at 10:50 p.m. Sunday, and Petty was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest early Monday morning, according to Petty’s family.
He was 66 years old.
Tom Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released a statement late Monday on behalf of Petty’s family saying the rocker had died. There were erroneous reports he had passed earlier in the day.
“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,” the statement reads. “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. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
Petty, who is best known for fronting the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, decided to pursue music at the age of 17. The singer told Grammys.com that he was inspired to become an artist after he saw the Beatles perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“I had been a fan up to that point. But this was the thing that made me want to play music. You saw that it could be done,” he said. “There could be a self-contained unit that wrote, recorded and sang songs. And it looked like they were having an awful lot of fun doing it.”
With his early band Mudcrutch, which featured future Heartbreakers members guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1975. After that band broke up, Petty, Campbell, Tench, bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1975, and the group released their eponymous album the next year. They went on to put out a dozen or so additional studio albums over the years that yielded such enduring hits as “I Need to Know,” “Listen to Her Heart,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Refugee,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “The Waiting,” “You Got Lucky,” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”
Petty also mounted a successful solo career, highlighted in 1989 by the release of “Full Moon Fever,” which has sold five million copies in the U.S. and featured the hits “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” In addition, Petty was a member of the super-group The Traveling Wilburys, alongside George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.
Petty won three Grammys, including one with the Traveling Wilburys and one with the Heartbreakers. The singer told ABC News in 2014 that it was always hard for him to figure out which of his singles would become hits with audiences, and that the process of putting together a great song was “very difficult.”
“Those ones always seem to just to kinda be beamed in, you know, they appear very quickly, you know, so I don’t know. It’s long, lonely work,” he said.
Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999 and, in 2002 they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, Petty was honored with an all-star tribute as the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year.
Petty and the Heartbreakers most recently had mounted a lengthy 40th-anniversary tour that wrapped last month. On Sept. 29, he thanked his fans for supporting the Heartbreakers for 40 years. His songs, he told ABC News, meant the world to him.
“They’re magic, you know,” he said. “Songs are gifts from God.”
Petty is survived by his wife of 16 years, Dana York Epperson, and two daughters, Adria and AnnaKim Violette, from a previous marriage.