Tom Petty, a singer, songwriter and guitarist who melded California rock with a deep, stubborn Southern heritage to produce a long string of durable hits, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 66.
Tony Dimitriades, Mr. Petty’s longtime manager, said in a statement that Mr. Petty suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, Calif., early Monday morning and was taken to the U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he could not be revived. He was pronounced dead at 8:40 p.m. with family members, friends and bandmates present at the hospital, Mr. Dimitriades said.
Recording with the Heartbreakers, the band he formed in the mid-1970s, and on his own, Mr. Petty wrote pithy, hardheaded songs that gave a contemporary clarity to 1960s roots. His voice was grainy and unpretty, with a Florida drawl that he proudly displayed.
His songs were staples of rock radio for decades, and with hits like “Refugee,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Free Fallin’ ” and “Into the Great Wide Open,” Mr. Petty sold millions of albums and headlined arenas and festivals well into 2017. He played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2008 and entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
But his songs stayed down-to-earth, with sturdy guitar riffs carrying lyrics that spoke for underdogs and ornery outcasts. In his 1989 hit, “I Won’t Back Down,” he sang, “You can stand me up at the gates of hell / But I won’t back down.”
Mr. Petty’s songwriting was shaped by the music he heard growing up: the ringing folk-rock guitars of the Byrds, the crunch of the Rolling Stones, the caustic insights of Bob Dylan, the melodic turns of the Beatles, the steadfast backbeat of Southern soul, and the twang of country-rock. Onstage, the Heartbreakers sometimes expanded songs toward psychedelia-tinged jams.