Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty reportedly died on October 2 suddenly, following a heart attack on Sunday. His death comes as a shock since, at 66 years old, he continued touring and recording new music into 2017. In the 41 years since Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released their first album, Petty has recorded 13 studio albums, plus three solo records. He’s also made guest appearances on dozens of recordings by his contemporaries and younger musicians who idolized his guitar playing and songwriting skills.
Petty’s death was confirmed by his family on his website. He died at 840 p.m. PST, “surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends.”
His death follows his successful summer tour with the Heartbreakers. The 40th anniversary tour turned out be his last.
The last Heartbreakers record was 2014’s Hypontic Eye, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album. Amazingly, it was also the group’s first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 album chart, with 131,000 copies sold. The album included the singles “American Dream Plan B,” “Red River,” “U Get Me High,” “Forgotten Man” and “Fault Lines.”
Petty also released three acclaimed solo records – Full Moon Fever (1989), Wildflowers (1994) and his final one, Highway Companion (2006). No singles were released from Highway Companion, but it featured the excellent song “Saving Grace,” among many others.
In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, Petty said he was done making solo albums.
“I don’t think I’m going to do any more solo records,” Petty explained to Rolling Stone. “I don’t see that on the horizon. Well, the truth is that I would call these guys to play anyway. There’s nobody I’m longing to play with, and I’d rather play with them. At this point in my life, it’s such an honor to play with [Benmont Tench] and [Mike Campbell]. It’s just my favorite band to play with. I just don’t want to make a solo record. I don’t see the point.”
Petty’s last album turned out to be the second Mudcrutch record, 2, which was released in May 2016. The group released their first album in 2008. Mudcrutch was a tribute to the first group Petty was a member of, which included Petty, guitarists Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon, with drummer Randall Marsh. Petty revived the group in 2007, with Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench joining.
“Trailer” and “Beautiful World” were released as a special single in 2016.