Rock Legend Tom Petty dies aged 66 – here is a look back at his celebrated life…

Rock Legend Tom Petty dies aged 66 – here is a look back at his celebrated life…

By Lahiru Fernando

03 Oct, 2017 | 5:01 pm

Musician Tom Petty, the artist behind the track Free Fallin’ which has grabbed the hearts all across the world, has died at the age of 66.

The Petty family issued a statement confirming the death of the singer, songwriter, producer and actor.

What happened?

Tom Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home early on Monday (October 2).

Petty was then taken to hospital, but the medics failed to revive the singer, who died later in the evening.

“He died peacefully at 20:40 Pacific time (03:40 GMT Tuesday) surrounded by family, his band-mates and friends,” said his long-time manager Tony Dimitriades.

There was a statement on Tom Petty’s Twitter account, which described his passing as an “untimely death”.

Tom Petty

The career of Tom Petty

Petty was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

The singer’s hits included;

Tom Petty was also a co-founder of the Traveling Wilburys group in the late 1980s, touring with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison.

Other tributes include those from fellow musicians Sir Paul McCartney, Carole King, Brian Wilson and Cyndi Lauper.

Petty found solo success in 1989 with his album Full Moon Fever.

The album featured one of his most popular songs, Free Fallin’. The song, co-written with Jeff Lynne, was a hit all around the world and was often heard, either on radio or during jamming events -even in Sri Lanka.

The singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

The response

Speaking to the media on the death of Petty, Bob Dylan said “It’s shocking, crushing news.”

“I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.” he added

Canadian singer Bryan Adams thanked Petty “for all the great rockin’ music”.

Actor Kiefer Sutherland also paid tribute by tweeting: “Today America lost one of its musical giants. Thank you Tom Petty for all the music. To me you will live forever.”


The life of Tom Petty

Born in Gainesville, Florida on 20 October, 1950 – Petty grew up with a rough childhood. He was living in poverty with an alcoholic, abusive father.

Then his life changed on one fateful day when he met Elvis Presley -and shook his hand.

Petty described the meet as “That was the end of doing anything other than music with my life”.

Later Petty joined two bands during his school life when he was 17 -The Sundowners and The Epics, before dropping out to play with Mudcrutch.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty 2The break up from Mudcrutch lead to him forming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers along with several members from Mudcritch. They released their debut album in 1976.

The career of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was a slow to take off. However it had heavy touring – including a well-received support slot with future E Street Band member Nils Lofgren in the UK.

When the band was formed and released their debut album, nobody thought they would go on to be one of the biggest touring bands. A garage band which started off with Punk music.

It was Petty’s craving for melody which sealed the band’s fate and future with greatness.

Over the next four decades, they became one of rock’s most reliable live acts, doggedly sticking to their no-frills rock template, and producing a stream of radio staples including Don’t Come Around Here No More and the Stevie Nicks duet Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.

Petty and Heartbreakers

The band scored a number one single Learning To Fly which was featured in 1991 album Into The Great Wide Open.

He also had solo hits with platinum-selling Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers albums.

Petty played his last live shows just last week, playing at three sold-out dates in the Hollywood Bowl as part of a 40th anniversary tour.

In December 2016, Tom Petty told Rolling Stone magazine: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thinking this might be the last big one. We’re all on the backside 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.”

Tom Petty lived a quiet, humble life. An unassuming rock legend.

May you Rest In Peace….

October 20, 1950

October 2, 2017

Rest In Peace, Legend...