Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released the following statement late Monday:
“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,” 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 decided to pursue music as a career at age 17 after watching 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.”
He formed the band Mudcrutch with guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench. When the band broke up, Petty, Campbell and tench recruited bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch and formed the Heartbreakers releasing such enduring hits as “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “Refugee” and “The Waiting”.
A solo career followed, highlighted by the 1989 album “Full Moon Fever” featuring 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 Heartbreakers also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999 and, in 2002 they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The ban recently completed a 40th-anniversary tour.
Petty is survived by his wife of 16 years, Dana York, and two daughters, Adria and AnnaKim Violette, from a previous marriage.
Several tributes have been pouring in on social media.
Safe passages to the summerlands, brother. You couldn’t have left more dreams here for us. Thank you.
Tom Petty was a stud. Very few super cool dudes from the old school left. Actual talent. Rough to hear the news
I’m heartbroken to hear about Tom Petty. Tom was a hell of a songwriter and record-maker. He will be missed by everyone who loves music. L&M
Always felt good to know Tom Petty was out there in the world making up beautiful words and music. Sad today but grateful forever. #rip