Tom Petty dies aged 66

Photo credit Michael Putland/Getty Images

American musician, singer and songwriter Tom Petty has died at the age of 66.

He was found unconscious at home in Malibu on Sunday, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest. A report on TMZ stated that although there was a pulse the hospital found no sign of any brain activity and a decision was made to turn off his life support.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers had played the last of three nights at the Hollywood Bowl only a week ago. Rest in Peace.


85 responses to Tom Petty dies aged 66

  1. Geoff G. says:

    This really stinks. He was way too young and had plenty of music still to offer. Luckily, I saw him on his last tour, it was the second show, in Florida, where he grew up. He was talking about how excited that he and the band were to be coming back to Florida. It was a good feeling. The place was oversold and going crazy on every song. I am very thankful that I saw that show. The first time I saw him was as the backing band for Bob Dylan, opening for the Grateful Dead. Not, too much to say about this one, other than it was cool to see. I saw him another time, early 2000’s I think? with Jackson Browne opening – both acts were great. Petty played a very long set list. Great concert! Others have mentioned the Live Anthology Box Set. That was a super deluxe edition done right. 5 CD’s, 2 DVD’s – one a concert, one a documentary, and a blu-ray of the 5 CD’s on audio. Plus a vinyl and paraphernalia. I think I spent $50 on it, new. Affordable, while giving a ton of stuff. Plus he embraced the blu-ray audio format. Releasing his last two Tom Petty albums in blu-ray audio format (as well as vinyl), and well as going to the back catalog and releasing Damn the Torpedoes on blu-ray audio. He really gave his fans great options to listen to his music the best way possible.

    I will sorely miss him. First Bowie, now Petty – two of my favorite artists have passed this past year. RIP :-(

  2. Nick says:

    I’m absolutely devastated, I Still Can’t Believe Tom Petty has passed away. This is the worst News Ever. I am lost for Words.
    It’s taken me 2 days to even type about his passing. I’ve been following him for my whole life and his music was always there for me, in good times and bad.
    Even more sad is the fact he had just decided to ease off from future Tours to spend more time with his family and Grand daughter.
    Now Toms Among the Wildflowers – Somewhere in Heaven he’s feeling Free!

    R.I.P Tom

  3. Larry Davis says:

    RIP Tom, you were truly one of the greats…been a fan your whole career, and you’ve been remarkably consistent, yet never boring, only interesting and quite varied. It’s really cool the artists you played with both onstage and on record…from Dylan to Johnny Cash (the Heartbreakers were Cash’s backup band on one of his American Recordings albums)…to the Wilburys to Mudcrutch. So many great songs, but if I have to pick my alltime fave, it’s “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)”…just something about that song just towers above the others, can’t explain it. I feel fortunate to have seen the Heartbreakers live once, on the “Echo” tour at Jones Beach, Long Island, NY, and it was great…the “Live Anthology” is an awesome boxset, and “Running Down A Dream” is an all-encompassing documentary. It’s awesome to know his catalogue will be even more widely discovered and analyzed. What’s also cool about Tom was his sense of humour…he was pretty drolly hilarious…”Yer So Bad” sums up how funny he was in song…miss ya Tom, wish I knew ya personally, you just seemed like a fun, cool guy…thoughts to your wife and family and bands and fellow fans…feels like a whole community really…oh and your Sirius XM satellite radio show/channel was amazing too, from a music fan and collector point of view as well…

  4. Rick says:

    More than 300 comments about a glitch on a Bowie reissue and only 81 comments lamenting the sudden death of one of the greatest rock artists ever?

    Saw Tom for the first and last time at Hyde Park this summer and he and the Heartbreakers blew me away, definitely one of the best shows I have ever been to. I hope there will be a live album culled from this tour. May you RIP Tom within those wildflowers…

  5. BillyD says:

    Can’t say I was much of a fan. Had a handful of his early 80s singles. Lost all interest when Don’t Come Around Here No More was played every 15 minutes on MTV. Dave Stewart managed to meld Petty’s vocals with what sounds to be a Eurythmics instrumental. Around the time of Freefalling I had to turn off whichever device was playing the cursed song. It was also because his music had become so slow. If I’m forced to listen to either Rock or Roll I prefer it to be upbeat. I do own his Damn the Torpedoes on bluray and the separation in the surround mix is great.

  6. ken says:

    Tom was a fantastic artist, so many great songs. I saw him on the last tour and he played so many hits that we sang the night away. Yet some how there was still a dozen songs we wished he played.
    He really contributed so much to music and was very supportive of other artists over his career. He will be missed. Tom always seemed like the kind of guy you would want to sit around with and have a beer or two.

  7. John says:

    The first r’n’r artist I grew up with to die and so sad. His first album came just as I started Uni and was on the turntable all the time.
    Lucky enough to have seen him twice,although quite different concerts. First in London in I think 1983 supported by Dave Edmunds, best gig I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many.
    Oddly one of the worst gigs I’ve seen was also with Tom when they supported Bob in either 1986 or 87, truly awful (and i think Bob is great btw).
    I love the Mudcrutch 2 album and that is a good way to sign off.
    Wished I’d gone to Hyde Park!
    RIP Tom

  8. Never slow down, never grow old…
    TP you will be missed

  9. Wes says:

    Heart broken.

  10. Paul Wren says:

    Genuinely shocking and upsetting.

  11. Dan T. says:

    RIP Tom. Some of the best radio rock came from your creative influences. And hat tip to you for standing up against record labels who pushed their artists too hard. He was a fighter, and a legend.

    Also, rock legends: stop dying please. The last three years has been devastating… Enough is enough already.

  12. William_M says:

    an amazing talent in writing and performing, as a generation we have been truly spoilt by greatness, it saddens me to think of what future generations will have as lasting icons compared to us. RIP Tom, your music was a soundtrack to our lives.

  13. Jeff says:

    Devastated is a word that I can really associate with today. As this ongoing death parade of our musical heroes marches onward, there are a few on my shortlist ( Macca, Elton and Petty ) that I feared for more than some others. I was not ready for this, but truthfully who would be or ever would want to be ready to receive such news. I am emotionally spent.

    Enough about me… there is another word that I want to mention… Wildflowers. If Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) only ever contributed one thing to the human race, his 1994 masterpiece would be more than enough! But it didn’t stop there it was all of his great music he made prior to this. IMHO and maybe because I was born in 1975 and graduated high school in 94, but for me his best work came from this point on forward. When most of his peers were releasing sub par product, TP refused to put out anything that was less than artistic and meaningful. Each album was met with the anticipation because he continued to deliver amazing music.

    For my own selfish reasons, I am sad to see him go because I feel that his body of work was like a fine wine and was only getting better with time, and that’s saying a lot considering the bar he set early on in his career! To me it’s like a 66 year old Jimi Hendrix dying all the sudden, the man was still in its prime!

    My condolences to his family, the Heartbreakers and all of his friends and loyal fan base. God speed!

    All the best – Jeff

  14. Michael says:

    A very sad moment for music fans, and everyone in the United States. First, the horrific and senseless massacre that occurred Sunday night at a country music festival in Las Vegas that left 59 innocent people dead and over 500 injured, some very seriously. Second, to have news confirmation yesterday that Tom Petty, one of our greatest American rock stars, died at age 66. My thoughts and prayers go out to Tom Petty’s family, and all the families that lost their loved ones at the “Route 91 Country Music Festival” in Las Vegas.

  15. Kasper says:

    A truly great artist.So much great music.He will be missed.

  16. Mark Carroll says:

    Saw him in 1987 with Bob Dylan at the NEC. He was better than Bob !…. RIP….

    • don cooper says:

      Apropos my above post,another musical conversation with t’other arf has confirmed we were at that Dylan, TP&H,Roger McGuinn N.E.C. gig,also.
      Again,it was Missus the Dylan fan, but we agree to this day that TP & H and McGuinn actually saved a ponderous set from Mr.Zimmerman.
      Thanks for the reminder,MC.

  17. Gareth says:

    Such sad news. Saw him at Hyde Park this summer and, no doubt like many others, had no idea it would be the last time. It was a superb gig and he seemed so full of life. Perhaps more than most artists he managed to keep a strong fan base happy whilst also appealing to people who only heard a few tracks on radio, in films etc. He was one of the good guys. Wonder what the Heartbreakers will do from here. They must be distraught.

  18. don cooper says:

    You and The Heartbreakers were onscreen on OGWT the night my future Wife walked into our living room/my life.Our first conversation was about American Girl.Thanks for all the music that prompted many more…
    Sadly missed.

  19. BritinDetroit says:

    My personal memory of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, is that I saw them open for Nils Lofgren in May 1977 at the Hammersmith Odeon. I remember a very early version of “Listen to her Heart” and given the brevity of the first album (30 minutes) they were doing Route 66. I was parked someway back in the stalls

    Even though Nils was doing back flips off a trampette, and woofing that he came to dance, I did think that Tom Petty blew him off the proverbial stage .

    40 years of musical journey has been appreciated and enjoyed.

  20. Mark Story says:

    I was working yesterday in a hematology lab when a friend text me about Mr. Petty , I announced it to my fellow workers, needless to say almost everyone was crushed! Another of my heroes fallen,RIP Tom , you brought many people much happiness.

  21. Dave says:

    Sad news for sure ! A nice guy has left us such a rich musical legacy . thanks tom !

  22. Mike B says:

    One of the greatest songwriters of our age who produced at least 7 total classic albums, 3 of them masterpieces – the 1st album, Into The Great Wide Open and Wildflowers. For a Beatle and Bob Dylan to want him in their band is some accolade.

  23. Bobby's Dad says:

    too sad for words….

  24. Peter Muscutt says:

    For me the iconic song will always be ‘American Girl’ as featured at the start of the great ‘Silence of the Lambs’ movie. For me, a great slice of feel-good rock and roll.

  25. BRENEZ Alain says:

    I have all of Tom Petty’s albums now thanks to the release of the 2 vinyl box sets last year. He was one of the very few great musicians I had never seen in concert. This summer, he played in London but didn’t travel to any other European country. He remained true to his rock’n’roll roots from beginning to end and never compromised.

  26. Marty says:

    But it is a good time to remember why we are all on this website, because of the music. Nothing else matters.

  27. Richie says:

    I am devastated. Tom Petty was/is an American Rock Icon. I was a fan from his very first album and saw him perform on almost every one of his UK visits. Every album he released was never a let down, I loved them all. Most of all, Tom Petty was a good man and a man of the people.

    R.I.P. Tom and thanks for everything, Richie.

  28. Marty says:

    I stupidly always feel that guys like this will go on forever. What amazing music he has left us with. Good lad.

  29. Bill says:

    Awful news. Given the basis of this site, it’s worth remarking that his Live Anthology was a real demonstration of how to do these things.

  30. Carl Homes says:

    Gutted……Absolutely gutted.

  31. adam shaw says:

    Sad news indeed.
    I can remember buying American Girl from the record shop that was opposite Farringdon underground station . Great record and still a favourite.
    Tom always appeard on programs about other rock stars who’d passed away , let’s hope his career is put on record in a respectable way .

  32. paul kelly says:

    l have just looked on bbc news entertainment news page tom petty has died at age of 66

  33. Kenneth says:

    Absolutely awful news. Like so many others, I grew up with Tom’s music. He will be missed. This has not been a good year…so many great musicians lost to us.

  34. -SG- says:

    His music is the sound of the proverbial backyard party and carefree summer days. If he pulls through after this, it may be the greatest comeback of all time, here’s to hoping this was a load of bollocks and he does.

  35. Mister Stick says:

    The Los Angeles Times has confirmed the sad passing of Tom Petty, at 8:40 PM Pacific Time, Monday, October 2.

    At a time when our country is sunken in a terrible mire, and when I am sure the rest of the freedom-loving world looks at America with mistrust and confusion, I would like you all to know this:

    Tom Petty was the best picture of us. He was more than someone we liked here, or someone who might represent our hopes and imagination. He was an artist we could trust, without reservation, to honestly present not only our aspirations but our reality. Everything true and pure that our country was, and could be again, is found in his songs, recordings, and performances. Among my proudest feelings as an American was seeing Tom Petty, my countryman, delight audiences across the planet. I only hope another will find the same standing one day.


  36. Philip Cohen says:

    Manager Tony Dimitriades has now officially confirmed Mr.Petty’s passing. R.I.P.

  37. Francis says:

    Sadly rock star Tom Petty has passed away, aged only 66. Another legend gone but left us with great music to enjoy.

  38. Jeremy says:

    Sadly, it’s true. A great rock musician with great humility. Time to get out those Wilbury lp’s again.

  39. Tim-meh says:

    Sadly, Tom’s passing has now been confirmed. Words are not enough.

  40. Tim-meh says:

    Reports are premature. Tom has not died, but apparently the outlok is not good.

  41. James vandegrift says:

    Truly sad news. One of the best live acts ever. Holding a good thought.

  42. Pablo says:

    We will miss you MASTER!!! RIP TOM!!

  43. Bob McCartney says:

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were one of the first bands I could call my own.
    I saw them for the first of many times in 1981 on the Hard Promises tour.
    That show is still in my top five.
    A legend who will be sorely missed.

  44. J T says:

    I never bought a Tom Petty record. But while other songs of that Roots rock/southern rock genre would often make me reach for the dial, something about his unmistakable sound transcended labels and kept me listening. And watching. His videos were a staple since the dawn of MTV. His 10 #1 hits on the Mainstream Rock radio chart tell an incomplete story, as the chart didn’t exist for his first three albums, including the megahit Damn The Torpedoes.

    Breakdown, American Girl, Don’t Do Me Like That, Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, The Waiting, Stop Dragging My Heart Around, You Got Lucky, Don’t Come Around Here No More, I Won’t Back Down, Runnin’ Down A Dream, Free Fallin’, Learning To Fly, Into The Great Wide Open, no matter where you went in America in the late ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Tom Petty’s music would find you.

    “You Got Lucky” was one of the first videos I saw on MTV, and it remains one of the best. The first minute and a half of the clip has almost no music, just atmospheric tones, forbidding gongs and spine-chilling rattles, absorbing you in what unfolds as Petty and a bandmate step out of a futuristic gullwing hovercraft at the side of an empty desert highway under a post-apocalyptic sky. As they stride to survey a strange structure, Petty looks down to see what his boot has hit and picks up a slab that turns out to be a cassette player. He dusts it off, presses play, and a drum kicks off the song as a gloriously ’80s synth pad starts over a twangy, single-note guitar hook.

    They look up as their straggling bandmates arrive in a motorcycle and sidecar and the group wander into the structure with bits of sunlight cinematically dotting the floor through scattershot holes in the ceiling. There they survey a trove of electronic devices covered in cobwebs and dust, in particular a recording studio. A band member switches on a fuse and—miraculously—the whole lot come to life. They turn on a bank of CRT television sets one by one to see various trite images of comedy, drama and sci-fi—Petty grimacing at a Battlestar Galactica sequence of spaceships attacking a city—until at last someone turns on a set that displays Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers onstage. Suddenly other televised images from the history of rock music appear. Chuck Berry. The Beatles. One guy uncovers a guitar and slings it over his shoulder, starting to play the simple but effective motif as a solo. Another guy pulls the arm of a slot machine, which showers him and his buddies with gold coins. Petty notices an Asteroids-type arcade game and kicks it over, slinging a six-shooter into his belt.

    The group leave the way they came, the one guy conspicuously bringing the guitar with him and Petty carrying the cassette player. As they ride off into the fallout-ridden sky, the camera pans down to the side of the road where Petty has left the cassette player in the dust.

    On the eve of Orwell’s titular year, Mad Max 2 a hit, Reagan belligerently taunting “the evil empire,” and The Day After soon to be the highest-rated TV film in history, we were all gauging how lucky we might hope to be—individually and collectively—in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. Petty’s song spoke to the breakup of a romance, but the video—in what would become an MTV hallmark—spoke to a different story, the breakup of civilization.

    That end-timesiness is back in the air lately. We came back from the brink two or three times before. Here’s to coming back from the brink again. And here’s to Tom Petty, one of the most consistent rock stars in the country. To borrow from the end of his classic video “Into The Great Wide Open” (star-studded and itself a premiere MTV event almost a decade later)—but free from his trademark irony—may he finally find his happily ever after. And the same to all the others we lost today.

    • Richie says:

      A fitting tribute JT, a tribute that should be placed right at the top of this feature don`t you think Paul. Tom Petty was the greatest Rock Star to walk this planet as a good human being, an inspiration to his fellow musicians, and for a catalog of music that is unbeatable during this time, from the start of his career up to the tragic end.

  45. StevieB says:

    So hoping he’s going to survive; great musician, great music and a member of two great bands.

  46. David Fisher says:

    My mole in the BBC obit department says he’s still officially alive. They need one more source before they broadcast it. It’s like a horrible case of Schrödinger’s Cat. Really hoping he’ll be ok :-(

  47. eddie says:

    supposedly still alive. hope he survives this episode. Great musician.

  48. Gisabun says:

    Still alive according to People web site:

    • Wayne Klein says:

      No, they’ve since confirmed his passing. He was on life support and the machine was disconnected.
      A great musician and songwriter, he will be missed by millions. He had spoken recently of slowing down and playing less so that he could spent time with his grandkids. Very sad. He’s learned to fly.

    • SimonP says:

      Not any more. :-(

  49. MüllerMüller says:

    R.I.P. Tom
    He was one of my heros…….
    Free Fallin

  50. daveid76 says:

    Abc saying unconfirmed. Wikipedia still calling him an is not a was.

  51. Solid Rick says:

    BBC yet to confirm, as of 22:45. This is unbearable.

    Paul, can you get rid of “You might also like…” in the text below the story? Just feels wrong…

  52. RJS says:

    “Confusion follows reports of Tom Petty death after heart attack”

  53. David Fisher says:

    Or maybe not – 6 minutes ago it was announced that this could not be officially confirmed and that he is still fighting for his life in hospital. Fingers crossed for that being true and him pulling through. 66 is too young.

  54. Paul E. says:

    Tom is one of my very favorites – this is so hard to even process. I’d encourage anyone interested to view his documentary “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. It might be the best 3 hours and 58 minutes you ever spend and a great way to remember his legacy.

  55. Domingo says:


  56. Kenneth Tilley says:

    I just found out the sad news, shocked and sad.
    Thanks for all the good music Tom RIP

  57. Rob says:

    Source. The BBC have not reported it as yet and there are sources saying he is not dead. Fake news?

    • Ben Williams says:

      CBS Los Angeles & Miami, as well as TMZ.

      Apparently a report says he is clinging to life but there is a do not resuscitate order and he sadly isn’t expected to live.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      CBS news and Rolling Stone both reported him as dead. I hope he isn’t dead, but it seems as if he is.

  58. Ray says:

    Such a shock ! a true musician and songwriter, the music world as lost another irreplaceable talent. Pick up on the Heartbreakers first album in 76, and been there more or less ever since. Will be sadly missed, RIP Tom and into the great wide open

  59. MGW says:

    Incredibly sad – one of those artists that you only realise how many of his songs you know and love when you really start listening to his work. He (and the Heartbreakers) seemed to me to typify the American rock star and band. He will be sorely missed by so many, a great talent and, seemingly, as very decent guy.

  60. Ian McJannet says:

    ANOTHER money making opportunity for the record company to milk the true fans !!!!
    SADLY …..

  61. Lemmin says:

    Gutted, one of a very few artists with a long career who never bored me. He was also a champion of his fans against greedy, worthless record companies. He will be missed always.

  62. Bobbyjean says:

    Wow such a great man and great artist

  63. vikerii says:

    Very sad. I’m listening to ECHO now as I type, my favorite album from him. Room At The Top being one of my favorite songs. Seems even more appropriate now. RIP Mr Petty. Thank you for the music.

  64. Ian says:

    Very sad news. And so sudden if he was gigging last week. And only 66. He deserved so much more. Another Travelling Wilbury at the End of the Line.

  65. David says:

    I am devastated. He was pure America. The music will always be important but now it is so much more. He will be so so missed.
    May his next journey be just a important as this one.

    God Bless You
    Your music will live forever

  66. Ollie Carlisle says:

    One of the all-time favourites, still at the top of his game less than three months ago in Hyde Park. Another Wilbury gone. Just awful news but what great music to leave behind.

  67. colm47 says:

    Another great man gone. RIP Tom, you will be sadly missed.

    American Girl on the radio here in Dublin as I type.

  68. Ben Williams says:

    Gutted. My step-dad and I were talking about him just minutes before we heard the news.

    Sad news, a true American icon. Will be playing his albums loud tomorrow.

    Running Down A Dream – one of my favourite songs ever.

  69. Mark says:

    No words. An absolute legend. Shocked.

  70. Mark says:

    Terrible news. Always came across well in interviews and a brilliant musician.

  71. Daran says:

    No age…. A great true rock hero.

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