Tom Petty died (UPDATE: maybe. . .)

UPDATE: The early reports of Petty’s death have now been altered; the police “cannot confirm” his death after mistakenly announcing it, but we do know he was found not breathing after a cardiac arrest. That probably means he’s brain dead. Other reports say he was on life support, but that has been removed. In effect he is likely dead, for the personality of the man known as “Tom Petty” is no more. But we can always hope. . .


He was only 66, but, as CBS News reports, rocker Tom Petty died last night of cardiac arrest in his Malibu home. He played up to the end—his last concert was just a week ago with his ubiquitous band The Heartbreakers—and he’d been playing for 47 years.

I wasn’t a huge fan, not because I disliked his music but because I simply didn’t pay attention. Now I wish I would have. I saw him once, with the Traveling Wilburys, and there was so much talent onstage it was easy to miss him. At any rate, his music remains, and here’s one of his best songs, performed live with the only person who could do the vocals justice: Stevie Nicks. It was the only song on Nicks’s first solo album (Bella Donna) that she didn’t write.

I’m going to add this great son, which I’d simply forgotten he wrote. Stevie Nicks is onstage, too.


  1. mordacious1
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    This just sucks. Not only a great musician, but a very good person .

    • Ann German
      Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      As of 3:57 Cal. time this afternoon, he’s still on life support and “clinging to life.”

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    That’s too bad. I really liked Tom Petty – and so young!

    • Posted October 3, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Way too young. Lifelong smoker, apparently.

  3. Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    And a year younger than you and me. It’s depressing.

  4. Dragon
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    My favorite Tom Petty song was Free Falling. He will be missed.

    • Ann German
      Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

  5. Liz
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Sad news. Saw him in 2003 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in NJ. “American Girl” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” are probably my favorites. I also like “End of the Line” with the Traveling Wilburys. He was a good songwriter.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      I also like The Last DJ. He made so many good songs.

  6. GBJames
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    This sucks.

  7. Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I consider myself lucky that I took my 21 year old daughter with me to see him just this past June. We both loved the show. Petty was a true rock legend and a really sweet guy to boot. RIP

  8. Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Ever since last year, I got this experience that lots of people that seemed to be around forever were suddenly dead. It cannot say I like it. I hope one gets used to it, because it would be quite dreadful if it always feels like this as one gets older. 😦

    • GBJames
      Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      It just gets worse, happening more and more as you get older. Then it stops.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        At my current place of employment, I remarked to a friend that so many people suffered tragedies there (deaths of children, some suddenly, some due to illness, bad illnesses themselves, deaths of young spouses) and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the work place but our age. I never noticed it before because the work population was young, meaning in their 20s & 30s. Now getting into our 40s and 50s we start experiencing death more often.

      • veroxitatis
        Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        I think it will be time to start worrying when Keith Richards dies. When that happens what hope will there be for any of us?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 2, 2017 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

          Keith Richards died and was replaced with an indestructible android 50 years ago…



  9. Veroxitatis
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Only Bob and Jeff Lynne left from TW.

  10. davidintoronto
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    The CBS link is now saying the police cannot confirm… ???

  11. Randy schenck
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    One of the good ones from the Heartbreakers to the Traveling Wilburys. I guess, there goes the last DJ.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Shit. By my count the Traveling Wilburys are now down to two — Jeff Lynne & Bob.

    I knocked around in a creative writing program in Gainesville for a bit in the late ’70s, got to see Petty & the Heartbreakers before they were a thing. Was always a fan.

  13. Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    As of 6:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday, October 2, Tom Petty has become a sort of Schrödinger’s cat. The news media doesn’t know if he’s alive or dead.

    • Posted October 3, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Now it looks like the Tom Petty in our universe really is gone, but there’s an entangled Tom Petty out there in the Cosmos that’s still Runnin’ Down a Dream.

  14. Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Not dead, according to the 11 pm BBC Radio 2 news.


  15. Mark R.
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of mixed reports, but either way, if he’s not dead at this moment, his prognosis was grim. This week is starting out really shitty. Nowadays, I can never say “it can’t get any worse”. We still have 5+ days left in the week.

    I’ll always be a fan, and I’m thankful for the music he was able to create, even if he won’t be coming around here no more.

    • Posted October 3, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      “Nowadays, I can never say “it can’t get any worse”. We still have 5+ days left in the week.”

      And at least 1205 more days of the Drumpfenreich left to suffer through.

  16. Posted October 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Bummer; here’s hoping that reports of his death have been exaggerated. He first came to my notice in the 70s with ‘Refugee’, but he crafted many great songs.

  17. Christopher
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    I got to see him some time after his wonderful Wildflowers album came out. It was one of my first CDs. He put on one helluva show and you could tell he didn’t just phone it in; he has having a ball as well. Time to thrown something on the turntable, grab a guitar, and raise a beer to one damn fine musician.

  18. frednotfaith2
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    A rock celebrity death from out of left field. Some hardly seemed surprising to me when I heard about them, Kurt Cobain’s being a prime example, but Tom Petty was not someone whose death I expected to hear about any time soon. Back in the early ’80s, when I lived in Navy Housing in Mountain View, CA (near San Jose), just down the street from Moffitt Field Navy base someone had spray-painted in very big letters on a wall, “I (heart-symbol) Tom Petty!” That graffiti was there for years. Sad that another great performer exits too soon.

  19. pablo
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    It drives me crazy when they say “died of cardiac arrest.” Everyone dies of cardiac arrest. What made his heart stop beating?

  20. Larry Smith
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    The report on CBS News from about 2 hours ago (8:40pm PST) is that Petty has indeed passed away.

    As several have commented, “this sucks.” A very dependable and probably underrated songwriter. It seems to me like each of his songs has some memorable line that rings true, not unlike Jackson Browne’s songs. Take something as apparently simple as this verse from “Last Dance With Mary Jane”:

    “There’s pigeons down on market square,
    She’s standing in her underwear,
    Looking down from a hotel room,
    Nightfall will be coming soon.”

    Nothing too fancy, but it both paints a terrific picture as well as raises more questions than it answers…

    • darrelle
      Posted October 3, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      One of my top 5 Tom Petty songs.

  21. Posted October 3, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    A few years back we took our oldest son out for a nice dinner in Malibu. A few minutes later, a mom, dad and son came in and were seated at a corner table. I remarked, “That’s gotta be some old rocker dude” and our son replied “That’s Tom Petty.” Some hard living, but a great talent.

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