Tom Petty has left a massive hole in the music industry, and will be missed by both musicians and fans around the world.
Earlier this year, the 66-year-old music legend was honored as the 2017 MusiCares Person Of The Year in recognition of his significant creative accomplishments, his career-long interest in defending artists’ rights, and the charitable work he has undertaken throughout his career, which has notably focused on the homeless population in Los Angeles. Widely recognized by a younger generation of musicians as an example of what an engaged artist can accomplish in his field and beyond, Petty has come to represent the lasting possibilities of rock and roll.
The event raised a record $8.5 millon for MusiCares’ programs and services.
The sad news of Petty’s death comes only days after Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers wrapped their successful 40th-anniversary tour with shows at venues such as the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The extensive tour took Petty and his band across the U.S. for what he told Rolling Stone earlier this year would likely be his last big tour.
Throughout his long career, Petty exhilarated and inspired a generation of fans and artists alike. Petty’s unique voice, rebellious spirit and warm heart made him a true rock and roll hero whose influence on the music world as a songwriter, performer and philanthropist cannot be underestimated. He will be greatly missed.
“It’s shocking, crushing news,” Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone in a statement. “I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”
“Tom was a true rock and roll purist, both in his music and his defiant spirit,” said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. “With the Heartbreakers, his infectious riffs, rebellious personality, and inventive songwriting brought a new urgency to rock traditions and fueled a now legendary career and some of the most memorable music of the last four decades. In retrospect, we were so fortunate and privileged to pay tribute to Tom as the Recording Academy’s 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year, and honor his significant creative achievements, philanthropic efforts, and passion for defending musicians’ rights. Tom will be remembered as much for his humanity as his music.”
In 2011, Petty was honored by the Midnight Mission with their Golden Heart Award, and has hosted concerts to benefit the charity. The Golden Heart Award is presented to those who have demonstrated a compassion for the disadvantaged in the Los Angeles community, and who have made a commitment to helping people transform their lives.