Tom Petty is “clinging to his life” following a cardiac arrest according to TMZ. Earlier this afternoon, an LAPD source confirmed to CBS News that the singer had died at the age of 66, but the department has since disavowed those claims saying they have “no investigative role in this matter.”
Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1950. He started his professional music career when he dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the band Mudcrutch. After releasing a single in 1975, that band broke up, but Petty and several other members of the group would go on to form the Heartbreakers the following year. One of the band’s earliest singles, “Breakdown,” became a Top 40 hit in the US and Canada, the first of many for Petty.
Since the late 70s, Petty has released 13 studio albums with the Heartbreakers, three solo albums, two records with the Traveling Wilburys (his supergroup with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan), and two reunion records with Mudcrutch, along with a number of commercially well-received live albums.
Dozens of those songs landed on the Billboard charts, with “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Refugee,” “The Waiting,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Jammin’ Me,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels” cracking the top 20. “Free Fallin’,” one of his many classic rock radio staples, made it all the way to number seven. His albums were just as absurdly popular: his first ten albums with the Heartbreakers at least went gold, as did all three of his solo records, and a number of those went platinum as well. His Greatest Hits album, released in 1993, was certified 12x platinum in 2015. Over the course of his career, Petty has won three Grammy awards—including one in 1996 for Best Rock Vocal Performance Male—and has been nominated for dozens more.
He was talked about as a “Southern Springsteen,” a nod to the way his populist anthems of small town resilience and romance were imbued with a sour sense of humor and an everyman’s nasal yawn. Petty’s last released records were 2016’s duo of live albums Kiss My Amps Live Vol. 2 and Live at Fenway Park: 2014.
Earlier this year, Petty was named MusiCares Person of the Year for his “career-long interest in defending artists’ rights” and his charitable work with the homeless populations in his adopted home of Los Angeles. Since then, he spent much of the year on tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers.
Noisey has reached out to a representative for Petty for further details.
This story is breaking, this post will be updated as it develops.
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the Los Angeles Police Department’s new statement about Petty, which says they have “no information” about his condition.
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