Tom Petty, down-to-earth rock super star, passes away at 66

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Chris Pizzello/ AP In this Oct. 2, 2007 file image, singer Tom Petty gets to the world premiere of the documentary “Runnin’ Down a Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers” in Burbank, Calif. Petty has actually died at age 66. Spokesperson Carla Sacks states Petty died Monday night, Oct. 2, 2017, at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after he suffered cardiac arrest.

Released Monday, Oct. 2, 2017|10:06 p.m.

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017|1:52 a.m.

Tom Petty, an old-fashioned rock super star and everyman who brought into play the Byrds, the Beatles and other bands he worshipped as a kid and produced brand-new classics such as “Free Fallin,’ “Refugee” and “American Woman,” has died. He was 66.

Petty died Monday night at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles a day after he suffered heart attack at his house in Malibu, California, spokeswoman Carla Sacks stated.

Petty and his longtime band the Heartbreakers had just recently completed a 40th anniversary trip, one he hinted would be their last.

“I’m believing it might be the last journey around the country,” Petty told Wanderer in 2015. “We’re all on the behind of our 60s. I have a granddaughter now I wish to view as much as I can. I don’t wish to spend my life on the roadway. This tour will take me away for four months. With a youngster, that’s a great deal of time.”

Typically backed by the Heartbreakers, Petty broke through in the 1970s and went on to sell more than 80 million records. The Gainesville, Florida, native with the shaggy blond hair and gaunt features was enjoyed for his melodic acid rock, nasally vocals and down-to-earth design. The Rock-and-roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002, praised them as “resilient, resourceful, hard-working, likeable and unpretentious.”

“I’m stunned and saddened by the news of Tom’s passing, he’s such a substantial part of our musical history, there’ll never be another like him.” Eric Clapton composed in a statement.

Petty’s albums consisted of “Damn the Torpedoes,”” Hard Guarantees” and”Full Moon Fever,”although his first No. 1 did not come until 2014 and “Hypnotic Eye.” As a songwriter, he focused often on day-to-day struggles and the will to overcome them, many memorably on “Refugee,” “Even the Losers” and “I Won’t Pull back.”

“It’s sort of the classic style of a great deal of the work I’ve done,” he told The Associated Press in 1989. “I believe faith is very important simply to get through life. I think it’s really crucial that you think in yourself, firstly. It’s an extremely difficult to thing to come by. However when you get it, it’s vital.”

Petty didn’t simply sing about not pulling back, he lived it. In 1979, he was enraged when his record label was offered and his contract moved. Stating that he would not be “purchased and offered like a piece of meat,” he self-financed what became “Damn the Torpedoes” and declared bankruptcy instead of allowing his label, MCA, to launch it. He ultimately reached a new offer with MCA, for better terms. In the early 1980s, he was again at war with MCA, this time over the label’s plans to charge additional money, a dollar higher than the standard $8.98, for his album “Tough Promises.” He again prevailed.

Petty was both an artist and obsessive fan, one who met his youth heroes and lived out the dreams of countless young rock fans. He befriended Byrds leader Roger McGuinn and became close to George Harrison, who carried out on “I Won’t Back Down” and joined Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in the unscripted super group the Taking a trip Wilburys. Minor inducted Harrison into the Rock Hall in 2004; two years previously Dylan’s son Jakob inducted Petty. In the 1980s, Petty and the Heartbreakers supported Bob Dylan on an across the country trip.

He would speak of being taken in by rock music since youth, to the point where his daddy, whom Petty would later on state beat him savagely, thought he was “mental.” Awed by the chiming guitars of the Byrds, the melodic genius of the Beatles and the snarling lyrics of Dylan, he was surprised to discover that other kids were feeling the exact same way.

“You ‘d drop in some other kid whose hair was long, this was around ’65, and go, ‘Wow, there’s one like me,'” he informed The Associated Press in 1989. “You ‘d go over and talk and he ‘d say, ‘I have actually got a drum set.’ ‘You do? Excellent!’ That was my whole life.”

By his early 20s, Petty had actually formed the group Mudcrutch with fellow Gainesville locals and future Heartbreakers (guitar player) Mike Campbell and (keyboardist) Benmont Tench. They soon separated, however reunited in Los Angeles as the Heartbreakers, joined by bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch. Their eponymous debut album came out in 1976 and they quickly built a large following, fitting quickly into the New Wave sounds of the time.

The world altered more than Petty did over the previous few years. In 2014, around the time he received an ASCAP Creators Award, he told The Associated Press that he considered himself as “type of a music historian.”

“I’m constantly interested in the older music, and I’m still always discovering things that I didn’t learn about,” he said. “To be honest, I truly probably spend more time listening to the old stuff than I do the new things.”

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