An American Icon, Tom Petty Dies at Age 66

click to enlarge Tom Petty performing at the Q earlier this year. - Scott Sandberg
Scott Sandberg
Tom Petty performing at the Q earlier this year.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers devoted their summer tour to celebrating their 40th anniversary. The jaunt, which included a stop at the Q in June, found Petty and Co. in fine form and concluded just seven days ago after more than 50 dates. Which makes today's news, that Petty passed away at the age of 66, all the more stunning.

The L.A. Times confirmed his death this evening. The Rock Hall inductee suffered a full cardiac arrest on Sunday and was found unconscious and not breathing in his Malibu home. He'd briefly been on life support on Monday.

A Scene review of a 1979 concert at the Palace said it was one of the strongest performances the reviewer had seen all year, and Scene's review of his first-ever show at Blossom in 1980 observed that "Petty's gold mine of songs ensured that that his set never suffered a lull."

Back in June, Petty and the Heartbreakers began their two-hour show at the Q with “Rockin’ Around With You,” and the 19-song set pulled four tracks from Petty’s initial solo excursion, 1989’s Full Moon Fever and five more from its eventual follow-up, 1994’s Wildflowers. In our review of the concert, we noted that “songs like ‘Refugee,’ peppered with soaring organ bits from keyboardist Benmont Tench, ‘You Got Lucky’ from 1982’s Long After Dark and especially ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More,’ with mystical work from Campbell (who spent the night reminding fans just how many memorable riffs he’s contributed to the catalog), demonstrated the power of Petty and the band as a unit.”

Reviewer Matt Wardlaw noted, “If this is indeed their last big tour, as Petty has indicated, they’re going out on the highest possible note.”

The Rock Hall has a number of Petty’s items in its collection, and one of his jackets is currently on display.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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