Tom Petty’s death on Monday was a confusing affair. Early reports of the singer’s demise were published, then corrected, then revised – for an entire day. Petty was reported dead; then he was on life support; then he wasn’t on life support, but dead; then he was back on life support. Internet wags suggested Petty had become Schrödinger's cat, existing in a quantum state of being both alive and dead.
Forty-eight hours later, Petty had settled into one state. He was dead, there was not doubt whatever about that.
Driving through the canyons today with the radio on, I listened to NPR’s long obituary. The report began by saying that Petty, 66, had been discovered in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home. I’m near there, I thought. Wonder if the address is listed …
After playing some iconic Petty songs (“Breakdown,” “Free Fallin’” and “American Girl”), along with portions of a “Fresh Air” interview with him from several years back, the report ended, “He passed away at his Santa Monica home.”
Wait, what? Malibu isn’t Santa Monica or vice versa, as residents of these two, nearby-but-unquestionably-separate coastal cities will tell you (assuming you can get them to roll down a window of their air-conditioned BMW.)
Reading the Billboard obit didn't shed any light. The music trade paper's web site tells me that Petty died "at his Los Angeles home.” For those keeping track, LA isn’t Malibu or, even, Santa Monica. Besides, LA has always had more than its fair share of unexpected celebrity deaths. LA should sit on its hands.
Tom Petty, wherever you are, rest in peace.