Tom Petty dead at 66 following cardiac arrest: See his life in photos

Tom Petty, the famed and beloved rocker behind hits like “American Girl” and “Free Fallin,” had died at the age of 66 following a cardiac arrest.

Petty was reportedly found unconscious in his Malibu home and rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital on Sunday night. He was put on life support, but after it was determined that he had no brain activity, the decision was made on Monday to pull life support, according to TMZ.

Petty’s music career began more than 40 years ago with a local Gainesville, Fla. band named Mudcrutch. The group fell apart, but two of its members, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, would soon rejoin their friend for a new (and much longer-lasting) venture: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Between 1976 and 1987, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released seven albums, organically becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Their third album, Damn the Torpedoes (1979), went platinum almost immediately, featuring breakthrough singles like “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee.”

35 PHOTOS
Tom Petty through the years
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Tom Petty through the years
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Tom PETTY (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Tom Petty (Photo by Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Tom PETTY (Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 01: Photo of MUDCRUTCH and Tom PETTY; Posed studio portrait of Tom Petty (Photo by Jim McCrary/Redferns)
(Original Caption) Portrait of the man who made it big with 'The Heartbreakers' in 1976. (Photo by Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK: Tom Petty from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers posed in New York in 1976 (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers 1977 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Photo of Tom PETTY and Tom PETTY & The HEARTBREAKERS; Tom Petty performing live onstage with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois, November 23, 1979. (Photo by Kirk West/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 06: PALLADIUM Photo of Tom PETTY and Tom PETTY & The HEARTBREAKERS, Tom Petty performing live onstage with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, playing Fender Stratocaster guitar (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
LOS ANGELES: Tom Petty performs live in Los Angeles in 1983 (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
CHAMPAIGN - SEPTEMBER 1985: Musicians and songwriters Bob Dylan and Tom Petty pose at Farm Aid on September 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Getty Images)
Tom Petty performs on stage with Bob Dylan at Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19th September 1987. (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)
Tom Petty (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Musician Tom Petty attending on 'ASCAP Music Awards' on May 15, 1991 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Musician Tom Petty attending the re-naming party for 'Def American-American Records' on August 27, 1993 at the Hollywood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Musician Tom Petty attending 12th Annal MTV Video Music Awards on September 7, 1995 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
CANADA - MARCH 17: Tom Petty (Photo by Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Musician Tom Petty attending the world premiere of 'The Postman' on December 12, 1997 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Musician Tom Petty attending 'Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Receives Hollywood Walk of Fame Star' on April 28, 1999 at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Tom Petty during Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Tom Petty and Marilyn Manson at the premiere of 'Blow' at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Ca. 3/29/01. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
Tom Petty during 2005 Billboard Music Awards - Arrivals at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: Singer/musician Tom Petty attends the Museum Gala 2007 at The American Museum of Natural History November 15, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Dana Petty and Tom Petty attend TOM PETTY and the HEARTBREAKERS Celebrate Their New Book RUNNIN' DOWN A DREAM to Benefit The Tipitina's Foundation at Milk Studios on November 14, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 14: Rita Wilson, Eric Idol, T-Bone Burnett, Tom Petty, Jeff Lyne, Sir Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Olivia Harrison, Tom Hanks and Dhani Harrison attend the ceremony honoring the late George Harrison with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 14, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 31: Rock musician Tom Petty watches the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on December 31, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Evan Gole/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform a benefit for KCSN radio at the Plaza Del Sol Performance Art Center on the campus of Cal State Northridge. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Musician Tom Petty speaks at a ceremony where Jeff Lynne receives a star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame" in Los Angeles April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Phil McCarten
Musician Tom Petty performs on stage after being inducted during the 47th Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Musician Tom Petty speaks to guests after being inducted during the 47th Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Musician Tom Petty performs at the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year show held in his honor in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
DEL MAR, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Tom Petty performs in concert on the third day of KAABOO Del Mar on September 17, 2017 in Del Mar, California. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - AUGUST 17: Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performs on stage at Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena on August 17, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images for ABA)
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After a break from the band in the early ‘90s, Tom Petty reunited with the Heartbreakers first for a movie soundtrack and then for their 1999 album “Echo.” Since then, the band has released three more albums and continue to tour around the globe: Just last week, they wrapped their 40th anniversary tour.

In his 2015 biography, Petty opened up about the darkness that had plagued him since childhood. He was four years old when his father first beat him: “I remember it so well,” he said. “He beat me so bad that I was covered in raised welts, from my head to my toes. I mean, you can't imagine someone hitting a child like that.” His father died in 1999; they had never reconciled.

The turmoil led to longtime depression, which Petty attempted to numb with heroin in the 1990s, he said. “The only thing that stopped the pain was drugs,” he explained, adding that using making the decision to use heroin was “stupid.” In discussing his past drug use, Petty worried, his biographer told the Washington Post, that he would be setting a bad example for others.

31 PHOTOS
Stars react to Tom Petty's falsely reported death
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Stars react to Tom Petty's falsely reported death
This is unbearable. Vegas and now a great music hero has passed. You brought us so much joy, @tompetty. We will miss you. ❤️ #RIPTomPetty
.@TomPetty... I love you so much. You are in my prayers.
I loved Tom Petty and I covered his songs because I wanted know what it felt like to fly. “you belong somewhere you feel free.” 💔
What a horrid day for our country, music fans and music itself. RIP Tom Petty. His songs are always good medicine. Love to his family.
Tom Petty gone? That’s just so wrong. What a bad day this has been, in so many ways.
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. #TomPetty honored to have shared your very last show on this earth. #freefalling #RIPTomPetty
Today Just gets worse . The very talented musician , writer Tom Petty has just passed away . Another great has... https://t.co/7L6gdlMD3E
Heartbroken: Tom Petty, Rock Iconoclast Who Led the Heartbreakers, Dead at 66 - Rolling Stone https://t.co/fhECAIdaGa
RIP Tom Petty. Thanks for all the great rockin' music, hard to believe you're gone.
I've just heard the news about Tom petty....I can't fully comprehend this news. Tom petty was everything to me. I'm devastated.
no words. just thanks. @tompetty https://t.co/224gn9GNbo
RIP Tom Petty Thank you for giving so much, a lifetime of inspiration and love. Your music has changed this world… https://t.co/uCZFVLM6uU
what a day. tom petty forever and gun control NOW. all there is to say
Thank you for so much, Tom Petty. https://t.co/XMOjKvfORd
Do something hopeful today. Listen to Tom Petty & while you do that DONATE anything you can to Puerto Rico. In Vegas? DONATE blood.
Shocked to hear about Tom Petty dying. RIP
Tom Petty was one of the biggest inspirations for me as a musician. This one will hurt for a long time. Truly one o… https://t.co/TqJU8xX0El
Tom Petty. One of the greatest songwriters of our generation.Thank you for ALL the music.Prayers to your family & band members.#RIPTomPetty
"Into the great wide open, under the skies so blue..." Tom Petty, an American treasure. Thank you for the musical score to our lives.
We miss you already Tom Petty. A true Heartbreaker 🖤
I can't think of a part of my life that a Tom Petty song or record wasn't involved in .... From birth till last night in my car ......
Damn ....Tom Petty I remember standing backstage w him & he tells me 'Go Get Em at a. Presentation #rockAnointed
Tom Petty. Thank you for the rock & roll, and for getting me through, and for being the soundtrack to my life for the past 32 years.
Damn it. NO! Tom Petty got me thru this morning....
damn we love you Tom Petty. incredible songwriter. "free fallin" is truly one of the greatest pieces of american art. so perfect & sad
forever one of my favorite souls forever in my heart thank you, tom petty, for everything ❤️
Shocked & upset 2 hear about #tompetty 'we got lucky when we found u….’…RIP https://t.co/MlqRwhKEWC
No! We have lost Tom Petty. From our opening act in the seventies to becoming a brilliant songwriter and performer… https://t.co/88hDeK2tsw
Noooo... Not Tom Petty. I can't even put into words how heartbroken I am. Praying for Adria & his family https://t.co/0nW0dwe8jj
Tom petty died???!!!!! No!!!!
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Petty wed his teenage-years girlfriend, Jane Benyo, in 1974. Unfortunately, the marriage soured as Petty’s international fame skyrocketed: A drug addict herself, Benyo reportedly became abusive as she allegedly verbally abusing Petty and the couple’s two daughters, Adria and AnnaKim Violette. Their divorce was finalized in 1996.

In 2001, Petty married Dana York Epperson, whom he had first met a decade earlier at one of his concerts. They shared the Malibu home where Petty went into cardiac arrest.

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