The “American Girl” singer died on Monday at the age of 66 after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu. Countless celebrities and musicians have since spoken about his influence on modern American music, and now it’s Swift’s turn.
The pop star holds Petty in high regard as one of her musical idols, revealing that his song “Free Fallin’” inspired her to learn how to play guitar.
“To me, Tom Petty represented a kind of songwriting I idolized: complex simplicity,” she told Rolling Stone. “It said so much in the lyrics, the concepts, the stories, the message, the nuances ... but always brought you back to a hook that got stuck in everyone’s head. He motivated thousands of guitarists to learn to play just because they wanted to be able to play ’Free Fallin’.′ Count me as one of them.”
In fact, during her “Fearless” tour in 2009, Swift performed a cover of “American Girl,” infusing the classic rock ballad with her country-pop sensibilities.
Petty’s manager, Tony Dimitriades, announced his death early Tuesday morning in a heartbreaking statement.
“On behalf of the Tom Petty family 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,” the statement read. “He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.