Speed Reads

Rest in peace

Tom Petty is dead at 66

Rock superstar Tom Petty died Monday night, after suffering cardiac arrest late Sunday at his home in Malibu, his band's longtime manager Tony Dimitriade announced Monday night. Petty "could not be revived" at the UCLA Medical Center, Dimitriade said. "He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends." Petty was 66. He had just wrapped up a summer tour with his band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 25.

Petty was born Oct. 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida, and he traced his interest in rock 'n' roll to a meeting with Elvis Presley his uncle set up at a local movie shoot when Petty was 11. The Heartbreakers grew out of his band Mudcrutch, which fell apart after moving to Los Angeles and signing a record deal. The band's early hits include "Breakdown," "Refugee," and "Don't Do Me Like That." In the '80s, Petty sang a hit duet with Stevie Nicks, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," then climbed the charts with "Don't Come Around Here No More" in 1985.

In 1988, Petty took a break from the Heartbreakers to join Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynn in The Traveling Wilburys, and in between the super-group's two albums, he recorded a solo album, Full Moon Fever, whose hits "Free Fallin'" and "Won't Back Down" made Petty a huge star. He recorded another hit album with the Heartbreakers, Into the Great Wide Open, in 1991. The title song's video featured Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which was active up until his death, was inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and Petty was honored with UCLA's George and Ira Gershwin Award for lifetime achievement in 1996. Petty's long marriage to Jane Benyo fell apart in the mid-1990s as Petty got hooked on heroin for a few years. But the love of music stayed with him until the end. "Music, as far as I have seen in the world so far, is the only real magic that I know," he told CNN in 2007. "There is something really honest and clean and pure and it touches you in your heart."