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Why Aren’t People More Outraged By Tom Petty’s Autopsy Results?

Tom Petty at Arroyo Seco last year


It took an incredible amount of time (4 months) to know how Tom Petty died. The famous singer songwriter died last October, and we now know that he died of an accidental drug overdose of several medications. But the reality looks really awful to me, as it seems that his death should have been easily avoided.

Petty, 66, was suffering several ailments, and in particularly, he had a fractured hip, which worsened to a more serious injury when he insisted to continue his 53-dates tour. Since the pain must have been unbearable he was taking several prescribed painkillers such as 2 types of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, as well as oxycodone (another opioid), alprazolam and temazepan (2 benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety) and citalopram, an antidepressant.

‘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 over use of medication,’ declared Dana Petty, his wife, and Adria Petty, his daughter, according to CNN.

The medical examiner’s news release says that Petty died because of ‘multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity’, adding that the manner of death was ‘accident’.

Petty also suffered from coronary artery atherosclerosis and emphysema, but fentanyl is the same drug which killed Prince by the way…

How are we still there? How are we still prescribing synthetic opioids to an ex-heroin addict – Petty had talked about his struggle with heroin addiction in 1997 – and how aren’t we monitoring the patients better (especially those with a past drug addiction) in order to prevent an overdose?

‘He died from doing what he loved,’ said his daughter to the LA Times… but this is not as if he had an incurable disease, why didn’t the doctor(s) order him to slow down, have his hip surgery and cancel his tour. I don’t care how much Petty insisted to finish his tour, an intervention was necessary and he never should have been allowed to perform with a broken hip for 53 dates. Doctors should have talked to all the people who were involved in the preparation of the tour and this should have never happened. Of course, greed may once again have played a huge role.

I don’t understand why people aren’t more enraged by the results of the autopsy, the fact that Petty was given the tools to mask his unbearable pain with medication for such a marathon tour until he dropped dead is, in itself, simply outrageous. I want to be clear, I am not judging Tom Petty for taking drugs to ease his pain, he basically sacrificed his body and life for his art, I am terrified that doctors allow him to kill himself this way.


  1. Mary Hyland on January 26, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Hi Alyson, this is an important response that not many have thought of, let alone verbalized. When I first watched Tom’s last song of his final show, I noticed he went to right side of stage and bent down to sign for someone. He already looked like death and when he tried to right himself up he began to pitch backwards. It appeared to be more than exhaustion to me. When I found out about the variety of meds it did look like a recipe for an overdose, especially when you factor in the pain quotient. 14 years ago I had to have a bilateral hip replacement at a very young age. I never knew what was wrong until I got myself checked out and as the next two years unfolded saw myself in more and more pain. I can remember myself holding on to someone just to make it to my office, something I made sure I did on most days despite the extraordinary pain and a growing inability to walk. The only way Tom could have endured that grueling last tour was to fill himself with pills…and even then, I’m betting the pain still cut through. You can’t even move certain ways with something like that…there is what is called referred pain where you feel it in other parts of the legs and surrounding areas. I’m not sure how he could even walk by the end of the tour. And you’re right…what doctors would allow this, much less prescribe such a toxic mix? In this day of opioid this and opioid that, and in light of folks like Prince and Carrie Fisher, the docs are to blame for overprescribing. If he hadn’t the drugs to quell the pain for those 53 dates he never would have been able to complete the tour. I’m wondering about the greed factor too. He could have had the hip(s) replaced, gotten therapy and rest and resumed that last tour, even if it didn’t exactly coincide with the 40th anniversary. This is a really sad statement about the industry as much as a man who should have considered his health first. 🙁

  2. Lynn vadas on April 27, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Alyson your words about tom petty and the way he died mirror my own exactly. I am consoled that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I did not know he died because I was in the hospital having hip surgery. I have thought the same way as you since this happened and I’ve cried and played his songs endlessly. But what bothered me the absolute most was that this man did not have to die. How could his wife not intervene? She had to know what he was doing to himself. So what if the tour got postponed. It wasn’t worth dying for. He of course wasn’t in any condition to make the decision to stop the tour, but his wife could have…sorry but I blame her for his so sad and untimely death.

  3. Igor belageruois on June 5, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    It was up to Tom Petty to fix his own problems not a doctor to babysit him.
    He knew damn well what was going to happen using all those drugs

  4. Gina Dawn on September 25, 2020 at 9:44 am

    After watching “How It Really Happened” and reading others comments about Tom Petty’s last days, I fully agree with the author of this article, and I agree with some of the readers’ comments. There were certainly many people in his life who could have sat him down & told him his health was in serious jeopardy and maybe gotten him to make a wise decision. But myself being an independent person, I understand his decision to do as he felt. Sadly, it was a bad decision.

  5. Lindsay Johnson on September 27, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Tim Petty was a grown ass man. Even his own wife & doctor couldn’t talk him into cancelling the tour and getting a hip replacement. It’s not the Doctor’s job to kidnap, imprison & force anyone to get hip surgery. WTH?! Free country!!

  6. Clem Reid on October 9, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Insane to think if he had just prioritized getting the hip replacement, first, he could then have been up and touring , literally in no pain , in about 90 days .
    Just seems so senseless .
    He could have done all the shows he wanted to at that point for the people he felt he owed it to .
    Hip replacement is a piece of cake compared to knee replacement .

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