Tom Petty, Rock Iconoclast Who Led the Heartbreakers, Dead at 66

Tom Petty, the dynamic and iconoclastic frontman who led the band the Heartbreakers, died Monday. He was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home Sunday night, according to TMZ, and rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. EMTs were able to find a pulse when they found him, but TMZ reported that the hospital found no brain activity when he arrived. A decision was made to pull life support. CBS confirmed Petty’s death. He was 66.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently completed a summer tour last Monday with three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. The trek marked the band’s 40th anniversary and found him playing rarely played deep cuts like their first album’s opener, “Rockin’ Around (With You),” and a selection of Wildflowers cuts. It was intended to be his “last trip around the country.” He told Rolling Stone, though, that it wasn’t his intention to quit playing. “I need something to do, or I tend to be a nuisance around the house,” he said.

In the late Seventies, Petty’s romanticized tales of rebels, outcasts and refugees started climbing the pop charts. When he sang, his voice was filled with a heartfelt drama that perfectly complemented the Heartbreakers’ ragged rock & roll. Songs like “The Waiting,” “You Got Lucky,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Learning to Fly” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” all dominated Billboard’s rock chart, and the majority of Petty’s albums have been certified either gold or platinum. His most recent release, Hypnotic Eye, debuted at Number One in 2014. Petty, who also recorded as a solo artist and as a member of the Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

This story is developing. 

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