Legendary rock star Tom Petty dies, aged 66

Famous rockstar Tom Petty was reported dead after suffering a Cardiac Arrest Sunday night.


Tom Petty in concert, photo by musicisentropy, Flickr.com

Harry Westergaard, Arts Editor, Co-Copy Editor

American musician Tom Petty was reported dead on Tuesday after suffering a cardiac arrest. He had collapsed the previous evening in his home in Los Angeles. After harboring no brain activity for several hours, the decision was made to pull the plug on his life support. 

Many news sources erroneously reported his death hours in advance. However, Petty’s death was finally confirmed by his longtime manager and friend, Tony Dimitriades. The musician had just this last summer toured to commemorate 40 years of producing music, which he hinted may be his last tour. One of his stops over the summer was our very own, Des Moines.  

Petty first rose to prominence as the frontman for the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the late ’70s. They had a string of hits including “American Girl,” “Listen to Her Heart,” “The Waiting,” and  “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” He also released two immensely successful albums in the late ’80s and early ’90, Full Moon Fever, and Wildflowers. The former produced one of his most popular songs, “Free Fallin.’”

Despite his considerable success as a solo artist, Petty was also a frequent collaborator. Former Beatle George Harrison came by Petty’s home one day by chance to pick up his guitar, and as a result was recruited as a member of the supergroup Traveling Wilburys. The group included fellow rock iconoclasts Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne. The band released two albums between 1989 and 1990.

Other collaborations included the duet “Insider” with Stevie Nicks on The Heartbreakers album Hard Promises. Petty continued to work with fellow Wilburys, including helping Harrison finish lyrics to the song “Cheer Down,” and contributing guitar work to Lynne’s first solo effort, Armchair Theatre.  On the whole, Petty was a very active member of the rock and roll community.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and remains one of the best selling artists of all time. Petty’s music could be described as traditional rock, with strains of the subgenres heartland, and roots. The universal appeal of his music is demonstrated by his endearing popularity even today. There was an undeniable bit of Americana in his musical output, that keeps his music and it’s message timeless. His legendary career and achievements are sure to live on for generations to come.