Remembering Rock Legend, Father, Friend, Songwriter: Tom Petty


Kristen Burgess, Staff Writer

Tom Petty, singer-songwriter and rock god of the 70s died Monday, Sept. 26 after going into cardiac arrest. He was the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as well as reigning over the rock and roll industry with his own solo career. He is remembered by many as the luminary rock legend to inspire, comfort, celebrate and influence millions around the nation and worldwide.

A member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tony Dimitriades, confirmed the artist’s death. He released the statement, “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,” says Dimitriades. “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 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

Petty had an early introduction to the music industry. In his teens, one of his first guitar teachers was Eagles band member Don Felder. He would go on to work with other influential artists such as joining George Harrison’s supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and lead singer of Electric Light Orchestra Jeff Lynne were also members. Orbison passed away in 1988.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would go on to be a strong inspirational band of the late 70s. As they ring out in “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” Petty sings, “people come, people go — some grow young, some grow old.” Petty’s ability to captivate and inspire audiences with his powerful words is no doubt one the rock legend’s most memorable characteristics. He cries out to those broken and beaten down, “you don’t have to live like a refugee.”

Petty is remembered by many influencers and celebrities, including musician Mark Ronson. The singer took to Instagram where he said, “growing up in the 1980s in MTV America, Tom Petty might as well have been the Beatles. the music seeped into everything. It was on the TV, the radio. It was culturally important, it was brilliant, it was critically acclaimed.”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently completed a Summer tour in 2016 in memory of the band’s 40th anniversary. Petty was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He is survived by his wife, brother, two daughters, stepson and grandchild.