This October, rock 'n' roll icon Tom Petty, the lead vocalist and guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, would have turned 70. Instead, it was three years since his tragic death from an accidental drug overdose on October 2, 2017. Now, REELZ celebrates his life and legacy in the network premiere of Tom Petty: Won’t Back Down on Sunday, December 13.
According to REELZ, "He wasn't especially good looking, yet he was adored by women and worshiped by men. His voice is something that wouldn't even pass a first audition on American Idol, yet today he is recognized as one of rock's greatest singer-songwriters. And by rock & roll standards, he lived a fairly clean life, yet he was dead at 66. Tom Petty was a walking contradiction."
Featuring an interview with Skip Coomber, who documented Petty's final performance, Tom Petty: Won’t Back Down will include never-before-seen footage of Petty's last moments on stage.
The rock star's life was riddled with drugs to treat emphysema, knee issues and a fractured hip. During his final tour, coronary artery disease was a persistent problem for Petty.
Petty was found unconscious and breathless at his Malibu home on October 2, 2017. He was then rushed to a hospital and placed on life support. He had a pulse, but doctors did not find any brain activity, and then the decision to take him off life support was made. He died a few hours later.
Petty's death was listed as a result of "multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity."
"Despite this painful injury, he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury," Petty's wife, Dana, and daughter, Adria, wrote in a statement following his death. "On the day he died, he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his overuse of medication."
The last night of the singer’s 40th anniversary tour, however, was “magical,” says Coomber in the new REELZ doc. “They played their hearts out, and it was incredible. And then they all came up to the front — they put their arms around each other — and they bowed a couple of times, and they waved to the fans. The Heartbreakers left, and Tom was still there, waving to everybody, thanking them.
“And then he turned and walked off the stage on the right there, and that’s when you could tell for the first time that he was in great pain — he was limping severely.
“I’m shooting this footage, not knowing that this would be the last time Tom Petty would ever be on stage.”
For more on Petty's life, tune in to Tom Petty: Won't Back Down on December 13 at 8 p.m. ET on REELZ.
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