Earlier this year the music industry saw the passing of several prominent names in the rock music scene: Soundgarden founder Chris Cornell and Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington. Now, a rock icon from an earlier generation of sorts has also departed from this world. Tom Petty, lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as well as co-founder of The Traveling Wilburys, two major eighties rock super-groups, died Monday evening in hospital at Santa Monica following a bout of cardiac arrest earlier in the morning at his Malibu home. He was 66 years old.

Heart attack

Tony Dimitraides, manager of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, issued an official statement on behalf of the band lead singer’s family. In it, he related how Tom Petty was found by family members at their home in the morning of October 2, suffering from cardiac arrest and not breathing. Local first responders answered a call for “a man who had suffered a heart attack” at about 10:52 AM that day. The singer was determined to still have a pulse and was taken to the UCLA – Santa Monica Medical Center.

Unfortunately, a hospital scan could find no neural activity, suggesting brain-death. Ultimately it was decided to pull his life support leading to his passing at about 8:40 PM.

Dimitriades noted in the statement that Petty died “peacefully,” with his family, band-mates, and friends at his side. What was especially sad was that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had just finished their 40th anniversary tour the week before. Their last engagement had been a finale concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

‘Just rock’

Thomas Earl Petty was born in 1950. His interest in rock music was piqued as a child when he got to shake hands with Elvis Presley, and he was inspired to form a band after watching the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” At age 17 Petty quit school to play music with his first band, Mudcrutch. Following the breakup of the group, he and some of its members collaborated with other artists to form Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, with their self-titled album coming out in 1976.

In 1988 he worked together with George Harrison and several other high-profile rock stars in the Traveling Wilburys super-group.

Following the announcement of Petty’s death, his Wilburys band-mate Bob Dylan remarked how the news was both shocking and crushing for him. "I thought the world of Tom,” said the folk-rock icon. “He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him."