After a day of confusion and miscommunication, Tony Dimitriades, the longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, confirmed Petty's death late in the day on October 2. Petty was 66 years old.
"On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty," Dimitriades wrote. "He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PST surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends."
A full statement was released via Twitter at 12:36 a.m.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/FGCVI5yIaa
— Tom Petty (@tompetty) October 3, 2017
The cause of death is still unknown, but Petty canceled shows in late August and early September at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento because of illness.
“As Tom Petty heals from laryngitis and bronchitis, additional changes are required for the remainder of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Bay Area & Sacramento performances," concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment said at the time. "We share this news with regret, but Tom’s doctor has advised Tom to take additional days off before performing."
At the time, Tom Petty's official Twitter account tweeted an apology to fans who had tickets for the shows.
Due to Tom's laryngitis and bronchitis, additional changes have been made to the remainder of Tom & The Heartbreakers’ NorCal shows. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/hP1JRN3z3a
— Tom Petty (@tompetty) August 26, 2017
The band regrets having to make these changes, but Tom’s doctor has advised him to take additional days off before performing. (2/4) pic.twitter.com/SOZ5wKuYQA
— Tom Petty (@tompetty) August 26, 2017
Audio of a 911 call made by Tom Petty's wife, Dana York, was released to TMZ on Monday. The call was made to dispatchers on Sunday after she discovered Petty unconscious on the floor in their Malibu home.
"My husband isn't breathing," York says in the audio.
"So he's not breathing at all?" the dispatcher responds.
"No. ... I don't think so. No," York replies.
The dispatcher asks York to try to perform CPR, giving her instructions on what to do.
"He's very slightly breathing," York then says.
"If he's breathing we don't want to do chest compressions because that will probably hurt him really bad," the dispatcher instructs, explaining that his wife should watch his breathing until paramedics arrive.
Petty's youngest daughter AnnaKim Violette Petty posted throwback photos yesterday on Instagram of her father when he was younger. One of the most touching pictures was a black-and-white photo of her sitting on her father's lap as a young child.
"Me bald and screaming with rodarte and Jennifer from royal trux at dads Hollywood bowl show years ago zz top opened. I feel grateful for having the greatest rock star as a dad. these shows healed people," she wrote with a photo of herself at one of her dad's concerts.
Bob Dylan, a longtime friend of Petty's and bandmate in the Traveling Wilburys, told Rolling Stone that the death was "shocking, crushing news." He added: "I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him."
Petty was born on Oct. 20, 1950 in Florida. He had a difficult childhood, which included a physically abusive father. But he found a love of music after being introduced to Elvis Presley.
After getting his first guitar in 1962 he joined the band the Sundowners. The band split up, but in 1976 Petty formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The band recorded 16 albums. Yet Petty continued to battle demons, including a heroin addiction in the 1990s, which was revealed in a 2015 biography written by Warren Zanes.
Petty always found solace in music, though. “Music, as far as I have seen in the world so far, is the only real magic that I know,” Petty once told CNN. “There is something really honest and clean and pure and it touches you in your heart.”
Petty is survived by his second wife, Dana York, and two daughters, Adria and AnnaKim Violette, from a previous marriage.