By: David (DOS) O’Sullivan
Iconic American singer, songwriter and guitarist Tom Petty passed away earlier today in Los Angeles following major cardiac arrest aged 66.
Born in Gainsville, Florida on October 20th, 1950, the first of two sons to Earl and Kitty Perry, he discovered rock and roll at an early age, but it was seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show that galvanised him into a career as a musician. He formed Mudcrutch with high school friend Mike Campbell and keyboard player Benmont Tench after dropping out of school aged 17.The band was short-lived, eventually regrouping with bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch to become the original Heartbreakers. During his career, he recorded 198 albums; 3 solo, 14 with the Heartbreakers and two with The Travelling Willburys which featured among others, Bob Dylan and George Harrison.
Tom was awarded a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame”, three Grammys, three MTV Music Video Awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame amongst a host of other accolades. His last major award was from Music Cares in 2017, recognising his philanthropic efforts in the music business.
Despite selling over 80 million records over his career, he was always more at home on the stage with his iconic band, jamming away rather than playing the corporate games that blight the music industry.
The band recently completed their 40th-anniversary tour, Tom telling the last night audience prophetically…..” this will probably our last go around”…..at age 66, he was tired of touring. Legendary bassist Leland Sklar said that ”he did it his own way and went out at the top of his game”….a fitting tribute to a truly gifted man.
Tom Petty is survived by his second wife, three children and one grandchild. Funeral details are to be announced.
“Into the great wide open, under the sky’s of blue, into the great wide open, a rebel without a clue”