Tom Petty was rushed to the hospital late Sunday night after he was found unconscious. TMZ reports that the 66-year old musician was found not breathing and in full cardiac arrest. It has been reported that EMTs rushed to Petty's Malibu home and they were not able to get a pulse, so he was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica where he was placed on life support. Petty was taken off of life support earlier today and passed away peacefully.
"We're told after Petty got to the hospital he had no brain activity and a decision was made to pull life support. -TMZ"
TMZ also reports that they have reached out to Tom Petty's management, but nobody is talking just yet. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently wrapped up a large tour, with the final show at the Hollywood Bowl last Monday evening. The reviews of the shows have been great, all praising the band for dusting off some old tracks that they haven't played in a while. Petty showed no sign of illness on the tour and was cracking jokes and telling stories every night of the tour.
Thomas Earl Petty was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida and had a difficult upbringing due to a tumultuous relationship with his father. Petty dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to start the Epics and later Mudcrutch with future Heartbreakers members Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell. Mudcrutch eventually fell apart after a move to Los Angeles and Tom Petty started up the Heartbreakers with Campbell, Tench, Ron Blair, and Stan Lynch. The Heartbreakers gained traction in the U.K. first with the strength of Petty's songwriting. "Breakdown" was released as a single in 1977 and it helped launch the Heartbreakers into one of the biggest bands in the United States.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their second and third records, which went on to sell millions of copies and solidifying the Heartbreakers as one of the biggest bands in the world. Tom Petty's talents as songwriter were recognized by other musicians and he started to collaborate with other artists including Dave Stewart and Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks. Petty released his first solo album, Full Moon Fever, in 1988, which contained the smash hit song "Free Falling." From there, Tom Petty joined a super group of classic rockers including George Harrison of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.
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Today, the world has lost one of the best singer/songwriters to ever pick up a guitar. Tom Petty was one of a kind, a true master of his craft, and he was hilarious. Hopefully people pick up on his dry sense of humor that permeated his songs and interviews. Thankfully, we have albums and albums worth of amazing material from Petty as a leader of the Heartbreakers as well as his solo material. I will be blasting his album, Wildflowers, all day today to celebrate the life of Tom Petty. That's the best thing for all of us to do today, celebrate the extraordinary talents of the songwriter. Rest In Peace, Tom Petty. You will be missed.