RIP Tom Petty

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Tom Petty has died at the age of 66, with confirmation coming from his manager .

From Los Angeles Times:

“On behalf of the Tom Petty family,” said Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. 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. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

Tom Petty had a monumental career with his band The Heartbreakers, the ’80s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys (alongside Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison) and an accomplished solo turn with classic albums Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers. Petty just played a handful of shows at the Hollywood Bowl to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Heartbreakers. He called LA home for most of his life.

This post will be updated with ongoing KCRW news coverage and DJ tributes.

KCRW DJ Anne Litt:

I grew up with Tom Petty. As a little girl in Virginia, already obsessed with music, always begging my mom to drive me to the record store, I heard “American Girl” and I’ve yet to look back.

“Well she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there
Was a little more to life
Somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to…”

How many times did I listen to that song, or just think about it, when I moved to Southern California, and tried to make a new life for myself?

There is a simplicity to his music, his lyrics, his way of being. Something quintessentially American (and somehow Southern to me). His songs are real and tight and truthful and cool as s***. “Here Comes My Girl,” “Woman In Love,” “You Got Lucky,” then 1989 happened and Full Moon Fever knocked me over. Tom’s music has been with me through every significant moment in my life. That hadn’t really occurred to me until I sat down to write a few words about what Tom Petty meant (and will always mean) to me. Thanks, Tom. I can’t believe it’s time to say goodbye for now.

KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox:

Seeing Tom Petty at the Bowl last weekend, I kept thinking how vastly underrated as a lyricist & songwriter he is. Rare combination of simplicity, depth & humor. No one else like him… sad to see him go.

KCRW DJ Gary Calamar:

Tom Petty was a Rock and Roll lifer. He was one of those guys that was destined to do great things with his guitar and his pen. There’s no doubt that Tom Petty was one of the great American songwriters and rock performers. He wrote so many classic songs and made it seem effortless.

Another thing that I really loved about Tom Petty was that he was a real rock music FAN, just like me…just like all of us. This kid from Gainesville, Florida fought his way toward rock royalty and on that road, he got to work with many of his heroes.

He and his Heartbreakers were Bob Dylan’s back up band on tour! He started a band with George Harrison of The Beatles…not to mention Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. When he got famous, he paid some of his heroes back by producing their records i.e. …Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman of The Byrds…Del Shannon too. He was a great DJ as well. On his satellite radio show he would always grab my ear by playing obscure nuggets by the pioneers of rock and roll, R&B, and da blues. As a DJ myself, Tom was a real inspiration.

Tom Petty will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
God Bless Tom Petty.

Steve Chiotakis speaks with KCRW DJ Eric J. Lawrence and Andrew Unterberger (Billboard magazine) about Petty’s legacy:

From Press Play:

Without Jon Scott, it’s possible we never would have heard the song “American Girl” or heard of Tom Petty. We learn how Scott, a radio promotions man, turned around the career of Tom Petty.

From NPR:

*Listen to Spoon/Wolf Parade supergroup Divine Fits cover Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “You Got Lucky,” from a live session for KCRW here.