Tributes and expressions of mourning have poured in from around the world for Tom Petty, frontman for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, who died last evening at UCLA Medical Center after suffering a heart attack at his home in Malibu. He was 66.
Petty suffered cardiac arrest Sunday evening and was taken to UCLA Medical Center, where, after time on life support, he died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. Monday, surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends, said Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
“It’s shocking, crushing news,” Petty’s friend and Traveling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”
Tweeted the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt: “Man this cannot be happening. Not Tom Petty please. Our deepest love and condolences to his family and band. A brother and true believer.”
Added Ringo Starr, also on Twitter: “God bless Tom Petty… I’m sure going to miss you Tom.”
Alice Cooper tweeted: “It is so rare to find someone who commands such universal respect in the business. He was a rock n roll lifer with music in his blood. This man delivered a wealth of great songs to his fans and to the world and that is something to celebrate.”
Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott also took to Twitter, writing that “Through his work with the Heartbreakers and The Traveling Wilburys he’s left us with an incredible legacy to enjoy forever. It’s such a shame he has left us way before his time.”
Added Guns n’ Roses guitarist Slash on Instagram: “Devastating news about #TomPetty A profound loss. Sad sad day today. RIP.”
Eric Clapton, rock royalty to millions of fans, expressed sadness, telling the Associated Press: “I’m shocked and saddened by the news of Tom’s passing, he’s such a huge part of our musical history. There’ll never be another like him.”
Some celebrities noted that Petty’s death came in the aftermath of the massacre in Las Vegas.
“Just when I thought today could not get any worse,” tweeted Kid Rock.
“R.I.P. Tom Petty. Thank you for your beautiful music and inspiration.”
Sheryl Crow was in a similar frame of mind. “This is unbearable,” she tweeted. “Vegas and now a great music hero has passed. You brought us so much joy, @tompetty. We will miss you. #RIPTomPetty.”
John Mayer, who has covered Petty’s “Free Fallin,” tweeted that “I loved Tom Petty and I covered his songs because I wanted know what it felt like to fly. `You belong somewhere you feel free.’”
Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow described Petty as an icon, saying in a statement: “Tom was a true rock and roll purist, both in his music and his defiant spirit. With the Heartbreakers, his infectious riffs, rebellious personality, and inventive songwriting brought a new urgency to rock traditions and fueled a now legendary career and some of the most memorable music of the last four decades.”
Petty’s last stage appearance took place Sept. 25 at the Hollywood Bowl, the last of three sold-out shows there marking the finale of the band’s extensive North American tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album.
Petty once said, “I’d like to see us break some new ground and leave some sort of mark on the music. That would be the nicest thing—to give something back, as noble as it sounds. If you could make some little dent in rock, where that little area is yours—that’s what I’m striving for now.”