Distinctively American rocker Tom Petty dies aged 66
LOS ANGELES – Reuters
Veteran U.S. rocker Tom Petty, whose vibrant guitar riffs, distinctly raw, nasal vocals and slick song lyrics graced such hits as "Refugee," "Free Fallin'" and "American Girl," has died following a heart attack. He was 66.
Petty suffered cardiac arrest and was found unconscious at his home in Malibu early on Oct. 2 morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived, his long-time manager Tony Dimitriades said in a statement.
Petty, best known for his roots-infused rock music, carved a career as a solo artist as well as with his band The Heartbreakers and as part of super group The Traveling Wilburys.
Petty and The Heartbreakers embarked on a 40th anniversary tour of the United States this year and last played three dates in late September at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The band was scheduled to perform two dates in New York in November.
Petty formed The Heartbreakers in the mid1970s, but it wasn't until the band's third album "Damn the Torpedoes" in 1979 that their music really took off, with hits such as "Refugee" and "Don't Do Me Like That."
Petty also co-founded the 1980s super group The Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, penning hits such as "End of the Line" and "She's My Baby."
Dylan said in his statement that Petty was "a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I'll never forget him."
Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr wrote on Twitter: "God bless Tom Petty peace and love to his family I'm sure going to miss you Tom."
Petty was born on Oct. 20, 1950 in Florida. He got his first guitar in 1962 and was influenced by the Beatles, growing his hair long and switching to electric guitar. In the mid-1960s, he joined his first band, the Sundowners.
Petty dropped out of high school when he was 17 and joined Mudcrutch, a band with which he moved to Los Angeles in 1970.
The band broke up and Petty drifted from band to band before joining back up with his bandmates from Mudcrutch in 1975. The group became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1976.
Amid his successes, Petty also suffered dark periods during a career spanning five decades.
In 2002, he married Dana York and told Reuters that he had been in therapy for six years to deal with depression.