Tom Petty passes away at 66

Tom Petty at the Xcel Energy Center in June 2017 (Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR)

Tom Petty, whose unapologetically optimistic and heartfelt rock anthems have been as familiar and consistent over the past four decades as the grass on the ground and the sun in the sky, has passed away at 66 after suffering cardiac arrest, CBS News reports.

As a solo artist, the leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and as a collaborator in the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys (where he performed alongside Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison), Tom Petty spent the past 40 years crafting unforgettable melodies that would become the backbone of classic rock radio, cross-country road trip playlists and sports stadium soundtracks.

He was one of the most iconic and beloved rock ‘n’ roll artists of his generation.

Tom Petty recently wrapped up a 40th anniversary tour and his final with the Heartbreakers. They performed three nights at the Hollywood Bowl, with the final performance happening a week ago today, and came through the Xcel Energy Center in June.

“Is there any rock star less assuming?” writer Jay Gabler asked after seeing that Xcel show. “Petty’s understated genius applies not just to his personal demeanor, but to his music… Petty still comes off as the kid who’s cool because he takes himself seriously, but not too seriously. That’s the image that appears on the cover of Damn the Torpedoes and other early albums: the lanky, sun-kissed Florida boy who’s running down a dream. Four decades later, he’s lived his dream, but he keeps running on.”

As soon as news of Petty’s passing broke, social media timelines were flooded with appreciation and memories. An already tough day for Americans reeling from the tragedy at a country music festival in Las Vegas just got even sadder, with Petty’s prolific catalog serving as our only solace. 

Listen to the Current today to hear Tom Petty’s music every hour and share your favorite Petty song or story here.

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