Tom Petty: It was an "accidental" OD

It was just reported on my local news that Tom Petty's autopsy revealed the cause of his death was an "accidental" overdose. When is an overdose not accidental? The report said multiple drugs were found in his system, as is often the case with OD's.
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Update: It was opioids. Petty was suffering with a few physical problems---his knees were giving out, and he had just been told he had fractured his hip. He was self medicating with Fentanyl and the other common opes to relieve the physical pain, just like Prince. No one thinks it will happen to them.


no overdose is an accident? These people knew the consequences of taking rx or "street" drugs for whatever reason. I would be very curious to view the official drug screen/toxicology report.

I kind of hesitate to judge TP or Prince in these instances. (There is always personal responsibility.)

It seems that entertainer types, who have a completely different life than us mortals, who have the means, rely/should rely more on competent doctors to guide them. IMO, most of us would not have Fentanyl and some other RXs at our disposal. This assumes they were under the care of a dr. Some of the responsibility falls on them (the doctors) and the people around the patient.
Stick to cannabis and stay away from pills and white powder!
Doctors have no trouble with the pen when it comes to prescribing drugs.
Right pops, as it is no doubt a large source of income for them.
In the case of Prince, decades of stage acrobatics took a toll on the body that mere mortals can’t imagine. Apparently this was the same for Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries. I never saw Petty live, but if his performing style was athletic, then at least part of the blame is on a demanding and aging rock audience that burdens its heroes with the price for eternal youth.
+1 dgarretson,

Couldn’t have said it better. Although, I believe Delores had some mental issues as well.

In the end, I believe if one is doing what they love, when they feel they can’t go on without help, they’ll turn to other things. I get it.

( remember Micheal Jackson...)
When others in their millions deify you , you come to believe, to some degree or another, you are beyond normal human limits .
Petty never did much antics on stage if any at all. Blame the rockstar lifestyle if you will and a combination of issues with aging. Nevertheless it is tragic. I have seen him live many times and the last time with the Hypnotic Eye tour a few years ago - he did not look well at all at that time. Such a great talent and passion for song writing. His songs spoke to so many perhaps his single greatest talent was a profound insight into the human spirit and joy/pain of living.
"rockstar lifestyle"...I rarely see a rock star who isn’t skinny.

I want, no, need to believe TP had issues that are common to us all. It may be just their access, means, lifestyle that separate us all.

I'm very sad about Tom Petty. I'm also sad about the state of pain and addiction management in our country.

Prince had to reach outside of the state he lived in to get addiction care. It's quite likely he had inadequate pain management as well. As far as I can tell, he mixed pain meds with counterfeit drugs which had Fentanyl instead of what he thought was in them.

I won't judge Petty, but I will say that if well to do, not isolated, well liked people like Petty and Prince could run into problems with pain management, addiction and overall prescription management then imagine how difficult this might be for everyone else.

My point is just, I wish everyone in the US had better health care and on-demand access to excellent pain/prescription and addition management and I fear we are far from that.


At Petty’s age (same as mine), I assumed he was, like so many of us (though not me), just a pothead. But he had hurt his hip either just before or just as the tour was starting, and didn’t want to cancel. It was viewed as his Farewell Tour, and he decided to soldier on with the pain, using the opioids to get through it. It doesn’t take long to develop a nasty little habit. At least, that's what I've heard ;-).
When is an overdose not accidental?

When folks are ready to say "check please".

I have watched many folks leave this spinning blue sphere, and some are more adapt at dealing with the suffering that comes towards the end then others are.

My father passed away 4 months after being diagnosed with cancer, and several of my sisters whined that he didn't even 'try to fight it'. My mother took 10 years of battling emphysema before she finally passed away.
In the end, they both wound up in the same place.

Each person should have the right to end their own suffering, should they desire. I often wonder why we humans are more 'humane' to animals than we are to our own kind, as we allow animals to simply slip off to sleep when their lives become miserable, yet Kevorkian was a monster? HA!

Personally, when the time comes for me, as it does for us all, I would hope to have the chance to set up a final listening session, settle down with a nice bottle of Blanton's single barrel bourbon and some pain/sleeping pills, and just transition quickly and peacefully.

Watching my mother battle so hard for so long made me realize that was not the way that I would want to go out. Years of pain and agony is no way to "live". Yet with the advancements in medical science, we can keep many zombies 'alive' these days. To each their own.

@dgarretson makes an interesting argument about the physical lifestyle of rock stars. Though that makes me wonder how Mick is feeling these days, as someone who has been VERY active for over 50 years of that lifestyle.

Every time another one of these rockers fade away, I always find myself wondering how the hell Keith Richards is still alive???!!!

Exactly my thoughts, jmc. As a 14-15 year old, I watched in growing horror as my Mother was ravaged by brain cancer. I've lived my life with the knowledge of my (and everyone else's) imminent demise very much in mind, and now that I'm approaching the inevitable, considering whether or not I should choose the how and when. My sister, a long-recovered heroin addict, told me how she's going to do it should the need arise. The countries that have come to more, shall we say, liberal attitudes towards self-induced end-of-life seem so much more civilized than we, with our Puritan/Victorian superstitions.

Keith Richards may end up being the Jerry Lee Lewis of his generation---the last man standing!

Yes, Jmc and bdp24, everyone is touched by tragedy in one way or another. I watched my sister pass from pancreatic cancer, it was the most inhumane thing I have ever experienced and I think about it everyday.

"I Did it My Way" might happen more often than we know.


While writing that post I was also thinking of athletic types like Mick, Pete Townshend, James Brown, Springsteen, even Meatloaf. And of Bob Dylan, who continues to tour, albeit in a sendentary position behind the keyboard.

I could write...(i did it my way...several times over and again. while caring for my dying father from kidney cancer)>>

Now, I'm dealing with my own issues....

WE all need the freedom to go in the way we want.
Stick to cannabis and stay away from pills and white powder!
I am all for it, but I am not sure that cannabis is effective in the case of Tom Petty or Prince.  The reason why I doubt is that these guys can have the very best pot whenever they want but they turn to opiods instead.
Tom Petty had access to the best medical care available unlike many people who do hard physical labor 5 or 6 days a week, every week, year after year.  So he's not a victim of anything.  We've all got to die and I'd rather die of an accidental overdose than something like cancer.  

Last year 63,000 people died of drug overdoses. And that's with Narcan being available.  The number would be in the hundreds of thousands if it wasn't available.  The only way to stop this is to stop the easy availability of legal and illegal narcotics.
It’s tough to beat opioids for severe pain.
I don’t know Tom Petty’s particular situation. Sounds like he suffered from emphysema- may mean that he’s been on high dose steroids, (prednisone?), long term, to aid his breathing-which in turn can induce osteoporosis. He always looked pretty slight of build and may not have started with a robust baseline bone density. I’ve heard that he was trying to soldier on and complete his tour with a cracked tibia that progressed to a full fracture. That would be damned painful. Also seems a little “out there” to continue, while I’m wildly speculating, maybe his judgement was impaired by the very meds he was using for pain.
Make that make that a cracked femur.

So many deaths of singers, songwriters, musicians of my generation (b. 1957). I miss them all BUT I am so very thankful and grateful I got to live in, and listen to, and sometimes see them in their time. All have passed for a wide variety of reasons, some we may never fully understand, which is why having their music persist in recorded format keeps their energy and spirit alive. I didn’t know Tom personally, but in a way I did, albeit in a one way relationship.

We, who still listen, are lucky, so very lucky.

I hear ya Steve. It happens to every generation, but I have to say the boomer generation (to which I belong, as did Petty) for some reason thought it was the exception to the rule---a Peter Pan fantasy.

While living in L.A., I met and became acquainted with, amongst other artists, Billy Swan (writer of the hit song "I Can Help"). He was a Southern boy, who told me about seeing Elvis live in ’56, performing on the back of a flatbed truck at a County Fair in Tennessee. What I would give to have witnessed that! I suddenly understood why the younger musicians I was meeting were so envious of my saving seen Hendrix, Cream, and The Who (with Keith Moon) live in the late 60’s.

Everyone thinks of Rock Stars as living easy, cushy lives. But Petty was unusually fortunate---most artists of his type live in abject poverty their entire lives. I met and became acquainted with the guys in Dwight Twilley’s band, after drummer Phil Seymour left for a solo career. The Dwight Twilley Band’s debut album (Sincerely---a fantastic album) was partly responsible for Mudcrutch leaving Florida for L.A. in search of a record contract. Twilley hooked Petty up with Shelter Records and, as they say, the rest is history. Anyway, the guys in Twilley’s band were living on $150/wk each in 1979/80, which didn’t go far in L.A. (or anywhere else). THAT is the reality for most musicians. Dwight himself, at the time living with Susan Cowsill (yeah, those Cowsills), was doing only a little better than his band. He watched as his admirer Petty, for some reason, stole his thunder, enjoying a very successful career, while he languished in relative obscurity.

On the other hand, Petty is dead, and Twilley lives on!

My 83 year old ex-Marine Korean War veteran dad always says growing old ain't for wimps. He has battled kidney cancer, prostate cancer, a disabling shattered heel after falling out of his tree while trimming it at age 69 and much much more. I say all this to say I'm glad that even through all that daily pain he has stuck it out. I've gotten to spend many more years with him from when cancer first called. All my kids have gotten to know a rock of man and see first hand what courage in hard circumstances looks like. I commend each of you that has taken care of loved ones with terminal illness. While it is extremely difficult to watch, it does provide the opportunity to demonstrate selfless love to those you love.   
Interesting and touching posts from everyone. Thanks.
I'm same age as you dad .Your post is very wise .
As you age out often the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is allowing yourself to be a "burden " on your way out .

Indeed. Thanks for posting this thought. 

The reason they label the Manner of death as "accidental " because it could be a Homicide or Suicide , which would change the "Manner of Death".
Was it self induced? Did the Party intentional know they were over medicating?  
Did someone assist the Party or administer the drugs with intensions of overdosing the Party
So the manner of Death could reasonably change from "accidental ", to Suicide or/and Homicide
“ Speedball rang the night clerk”.....
give that another spin for deeper meaning...
wow do I miss him
i have a quarter million dollar foot and have had a few rounds of surgery needing some pain meds - I still have 3 left, long expired but there so I understand the desire to get off them ASAP..... but

"It’s tough to beat opioids for severe pain." ......stated in a prior post.
Actually, opioids alone are frequently only 
mediocre in treating many types of pain and in fact, in larger dosages, can make the pain actually worse. Using non-opioid medications ( acetaminophen, NSAIDS, Gabapentin like agents) and physical therapy when appropriate, along with some opioids, is currently the best method to achieve reasonable, safe pain relief. 
This was my response to another post here on this topic.

I am 60 years old.

I have had spinal fusion from T8 to S2 (shoulder blades down to the butt crack, 10 surgeries over a 7 year period) and have had both knees replaced (a year ago).  

Leading up to the surgeries were 10 years of incorrect diagnoses, until I came across the surgeons who operated on Gloria Estefan (broken vetebra from a bus accident in 1990), and I received my first proper diagnosis, which led to my first spine fusion surgery.  

Twelve years ago, one of the surgical implants broke and pierced my spinal cord and I was hospitalized on and off over a six month period with bacterial meningitis.

For that 7 year surgery period I was on morphine, as the level of pain at times could be extreme. I could not take fentanyl, as it is usually delivered via patch and I am allergic to latex and most surgical adhesives.

If you were to meet me, you would not pick up on any of this, as the only possible give away is that I look fatter than I really am (huge actually), as some of my ribs on the left side were removed (bone is used to augment spine fusion) and my left side protrudes out about 10 inches.  

I have taught myself how to walk, speak, and write again. I can not sleep in a bed. Every day involves a conversation with myself about how I am going to put one more day in the record books.

I tell my story for only one reason ... what my journey has taught me is to never comment or speculate about the pain that anyone feels, because I don't know what pain level he or she may be at and what their coping skills are ... regardless of position or wealth.  

Without coming off as preachy, Tom Petty deserves that consideration, as well. So accidental or not, better off or not, it is a conversation that he has with his maker.  

I feel for his family and friends and all those dependent on him, because it has most likely not been a fun journey.  Just as I feel for my own circle, because it has not been fun.  


thanks for sharing
grace and peace

When they told me I had arthritis at 45, I thought it was a joke, but at 76, I know it ain't no joke; more pain than I care to discuss.

I was told to stay away from the "heavy duty" prescribed pain killers, and so far I am, but I lose track of how many of the "over the counter" pain pills I take; consequently, accidental overdose is possible, but what difference does it make?

I had a cousin a little older than me who lived his life to the max from the day I met him (from the time I was aware of life) until he could no longer enjoy his good life of wine women (numerous), and song.

He got sick, and I didn't know the details of his illness, but I visited him in the hospital, and since we knew one another so well that we almost communicated telepathically, there was little conversation.

I looked at him, and my eyes said, "please don't leave me". He looked down at the floor and said; "You're born, you live and you die".

That's when tears came into my eyes, because I knew he would not be around much longer; there was no way he could stand life as an old man who could no longer enjoy the company of attractive ladies, and once he saw the hand writing on the wall, he had made up his mind to ease on down the road to whatever is next.

I left the hospital with tears streaming down my face; two weeks later he was dead.
I hear you, O10 ,
At +7yrs to you on most days my hands and arms  on on fire , good thing the guy who is stabbing a butcher knife in my neck and shoulders diverts my attention .

God bless all who suffer till we get to the "sweet bye and bye" .
Schubert, when you think it can't get any worse, it gets worse.

Like you said "God Bless all who suffer" we will reach the sweet bye and bye.
Yes we will O-10 , on the mercy of the Lord .
My mind is not his, but I'll bet he will be pleased with your unending battle
against  the American original sin , racism .

I know I am .

We all have our stories, trials, tribulations, tales of pain or loss.
Just FYI Mine: Both hips at 49 (bone on bone pre surgery), neck twice and rotator cuff where surgeon exclaimed: muscle looked like spaghetti.
Above required  15 yrs. on and off of Vicodin or Oxy. I know your pain.
But, WHY are we sharing this here?? 
That's what Face Book is for.
Nothing past first few comments even relates to Petty's tragic passing.
Come here for the solace and intelligent discussions on our hobby.
WHERE's the ADMIN for this thread/Blog????


If you don't like it don't read it , your taste is yours not everyone's .
+1 Shubert!!

Funny, you share yours and then bash everyone else.  What tha ??????
The point I was making in sharing my experiences was that being judgmental about Petty's overdose was essentially uniformed as no one knew what Petty was going through, their own experiences not withstanding.  A little catharsis goes a long way ... so boys, stop your sniping.

I'm now sorry I was a part of this thread.
Who was judgmental about Tom Petty?  The posts I read were sympathetic, and some (mine) explained how it could happen to me; I lose count of the pills but I don't lose count of the pain; if I accidentally take too many; " sayonara", over and out. 
Unfortunately ... there were two threads on this same topic.  My latest remarks were in response to what hifiman had posted last.  Read the last few entries and you'll see.

I like the sharing, it puts a human face on things, a human face on the text one reads.

Helps people with perspective. That is, in the final analysis, IMO and IME... fundamentally important to all these threads. It leads to less nasty projected/reactionary behavior.
I agree teo_audio.  Nothing wrong with injecting some life into our hobby site.  One thing we all have in common, we are mortal.
Does anybody here no how many US citizens are killed by medical error in this country every year? You might be surprised to know that in this unhappy statistic, we're NUMBER 1! With more than 250,000 preventable deaths by error per year. Far more than those who OD and die from illicit drugs in the US BTW.

Scientists and sociologists have been tabulating these numbers for decades. There is no doubt about this. If anything, the numbers are underreported due to potential legal liability. The US healthcare system is (by the hard data) far worse than just about any other wealthy country on earth and we have by far and away the most costly care-- but the quality just isn't there and it continues to FALL bearly every year while prices are, by global standards, simply insane and unjustifiable.

Tom Petty was taking a lot of medications-- this made him especially vulnerable to toxic drug interactions.

Even wealthy rock stars aren't safe in a system like ours. And you can take that to the bank. 
I think I can put a bit of  personal  perspective on this overdose issue considering I spent about 10 yrs of my life addicted to opiates.  
Accidental simply means that he did not intend to take his own life.  For the moment discard perspectives that taking this type of drug automatically assumes that there is a potential for dying so why would one do it.   Because taking that perspective  aligns with the notion that even crossing the street you can lose your life.   In other words.  Of course people know the potential for calamity.    And  of  course more risk involved in taking  opiates than crossing the street.  But we dont stop crossing the street because we know there is a chance of being hit.  
  I digress.    First of all let me say that many will begin the opiate regimen for pain and while there is relief   from pain the fact of the matter is people many become addicted to opiates because of how readily it buffers one from the pain of living with whatever difficulties they are experiencing  in life concerning their state of mind.      

  A major factor is  how opiates  can  buffer psychic pain and  make one feel good,  comfortable to the max in your own skin.  And of course there are other ways to feel comfortable in ones skin.  Healthy ,  non addictive ways .. actually,  some people choose healthy and addictive. lol.    
  And to be clear-- this is not all to say that there are many people that are in extremely painful medical situations that need to take opiate medication and may need to take it for their entire life and thank the mother earth drug for the relief it offers.  
 My purpose here is to bring to the fore what is not often discussed  are the   reasons why people take opiates other than MEDICAL issues per se.      What I am primarily referring to is the alleviation of psychic or mental pain.  
Ability to alleviate  depression, anxiety and more of  which my clinical training vocabulary  fails me now in remembering more  because I have been retired for about 5 yrs now.

  At any rate--I would also suggest that considering the assortment of opiates in his system he was really pushing his mojo on that one.

    Perhaps one reason I am alive today is because I really was careful about quality and quantity.  And the insidiousness of the Fentanyl booster was essentially not out there back in my day .   Th

There was a bit of "bathtub" Fentanyl in the  late 80's right about when I was getting clean   which created the case of the frozen addict.   Google it.      These days I would definitely not want to be out there..  The use of Fentanyl added to street smack is just BEGGING  for trouble.   The dosage amount can not be controlled at this level of dealership.  It would need to be strictly pharmaceutical and even then Fentanyl is 50 to 100 more times potent than morphine..  Terminal cancer patients only need apply.  
 So, here it is.  OD's and death like no other time  in our country .   I got a figure just the other day that noted   1 out of 4 or 5 people are using in those states most affected.   Consider the factors of why are so many people  in pain and  are using.   That is a socialogical discussion pertaining to the failure to address society's true needs.   
Most opiates deaths are not suicides.   Why would you want to kill yourself when you know you are going to be feeling no pain however temporary that relief  is?    Of course there is a massive trade off here for that relief.   Addiction.  And when and if one gets clean it wont be an easy road for awhile and it essentially cant be done without support.  

I was in the German Health System for over a decade .
Far better than ours .
3 years ago on vacation I had to be hospitalized overnight in Finland.
Total bill , including ER, room, doctors and medicine was 58 bucks in US $.
And that was total no insurance involved .

I feel a need to add to this thread.

I am a former semi pro musician. I was also a heroin addict while I was in my youth, playing guitar with many bands. Everything you can imagine, and some things you can't possibly imagine, I have experienced. The life on the road is a very confusing thing to a young man, and the "extras" that are offered are not resisted. So was the almost inevitable demise of Crazyeddy. Alas, four years in prison got me clean. Pretty fu*k up sh*t, but I always think of the Pro musicians who have succumbed to "the life"

As is so often the case, the big boys on the block with tons of $$$ can have whatever they want from the so called Doctor, with a licence to issue scripts RX.

I have  been clean for  3 decades now , and my wife works for the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is a front line worker with the addiction response unit of her organization. The sh*t I here from her every day is astounding. The synthetic Fentanyl is killing so many, and  my wife says that many other Designer Drugs are now being laced with Fentanyl and it's become epidemic in our region.

If you happen to know anyone in my province who may be at risk, the Canadian government is offering Fentanyl  Naloxone antidote kits. Free, and no questions asked. Link below. Save a life, before it becomes a memory!