Tom Petty has passed away at age 66, his manager has confirmed, leaving millions of fans grieving and a body of work that resonated with multiple generations.
“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. 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 8:40pm PT, surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends,” read the manager’s statement to People.
There was initial confusion about Petty after CBS News reported on Monday afternoon that they had received confirmation from the Los Angeles Police Department that the legendary musician had passed away. The LAPD later clarified that they had “no information” about Petty’s passing, and CBS — along with other news outlets who erroneously reported the musician’s death — updated their reports.
The world is reacting to Petty’s death. “It’s shocking, crushing news,” singer Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone in a statement. “I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”
Neither will his fans, who stocked social media with memories of the rock god and his lyrics.
Never made it to see Tom Petty perform live..devastated is an understatement. Rest in peace to a rock legend
— Meghan C (@kegsNmeggs) October 2, 2017
— Kristina Webb (@KristinaWebb) October 2, 2017
"I'm gonna keep this world from dragging me down, I'll stand my ground." -Tom Petty#timely
— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) October 2, 2017
Considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, Petty achieved massive success despite what Rolling Stone reports were a series of setbacks: quitting high school at age 17, weathering a tumultuous relationship with his father, enduring bankruptcy after finding fame and surviving a house fire. He married twice; the first marriage produced two daughters, and he had a stepson from the second.
Petty inspired millions; here are some of his most notable musings.
Tom Petty on staying authentic, despite success:
“If you’re phony, they will feel it in the farthest row of the arena. You have to really care. And you have to make yourself care, time and time again.” —Esquire, 2006.
On keeping love alive:
“What I’ve learned about marriage: You need to have each other’s back; you have to be a kind of team going through life. That’s beautiful — to have that kind of friendship. You’re going to need it when you get old.” —Esquire, 2006.
On aging and wisdom:
“The only good thing about getting older is you get smart enough to avoid unnecessary problems. You know what’s worth spending time on and what’s not. If I had known that at 20, life would have been so much easier, but you have to experience all these things so you figure out how to find your way through the woods.” —Billboard, 2014.
On work-life balance:
“It’s very likely we’ll keep playing, but will we take on 50 shows in one tour? I don’t think so. 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. This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time.” —Rolling Stone, 2016.
On striving for fame:
“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” —Esquire, 2006.
“I have a very blessed life. I think any time you’re making a living at what you love to do, you’re blessed. That’s what I try to instill in my kids. Go after what you really love and find a way to make that work for you, and then you’ll be a happy person.” —Parade, 2010.
On his mother’s influence:
His mother Katherine “was a complete angel. She was cool. She’d give me Rolling Stones albums. My mom was always there, always great. I lost her kind of early. She had cancer, and she also had epilepsy, which was brought on by a car accident. We had to watch her fade out slowly. It was very painful.” —Parade, 2010.
On his fight for life:
“Well, I won’t back down. No, I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down. No, I’ll stand my ground. Won’t be turned around. And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down. Gonna stand my ground.” — “I Won’t Back Down,” 1989.
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