If you’ve lived on planet Earth for even a very short time, odds are you may have heard a Tom Petty song. This prolific American singer-songwriter had a career spanning over forty years. With 80 million records sold worldwide, he’s one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Throughout his career, Petty recorded undeniably iconic songs, both with his band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and as a solo artist. Beloved songs like “Free Fallin,” “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Refugee” were instantly recognizable as his thanks to his distinctive reedy tenor voice.
Sadly, Tom Petty passed away on October 2, 2017, at the age of 66. His cause of death was attributed to cardiac arrest caused by an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Years later, his fans still mourn and miss him. Thankfully, he lives on through his songs.
Tip: You don't have to be a world-famous celebrity for your legacy to live on after your death. If you've recently lost a loved one, you can use Cake's online memorial pages to create a tribute that will last for years to come.
Jump ahead to these sections:
Tom Petty’s Funeral Service
Celebrities can mean a lot to us, even if we’ve never personally interacted with them. When they die, it can feel like losing a close friend. When a friend dies, you can attend a funeral and get some closure, but grieving a celebrity death is a different story altogether. Often, the closest you can get to a celebrity funeral is reading all about it. Here, we learn more about Tom Petty’s funeral.
Location and date
Tom Petty’s funeral took place on October 16, 2017, at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. This Pacific Palisades sanctuary is a serene natural landscape that holds a shrine, temple, and meditation garden. The grounds are typically open to the public so people can come to meditate or pray, but they were closed for the funeral. It was a perfect location to celebrate Petty, who was a practitioner of transcendental meditation.
This was not the first celebrity funeral to take place at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. The funeral for former Beatle George Harrison, who was once in the musical supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Petty, was held there in 2001.
After the private funeral, a reception was held at a venue in Malibu called Soho House. This members-only creative space features a bar and terrace, as well as event spaces.
Eulogies and speakers
While we do know a few details about Petty’s funeral, most of the details were kept quiet. It is not publicly known who spoke about or eulogized Petty.
Again, not many details are known about the private funeral. Our only glimpses of it are from photos that one of Petty’s daughters posted to Instagram. Adria Petty and AnnaKim Violette Petty, Petty’s daughters, were both in attendance. Other than that, the guest list is unknown.
There were some celebrities in attendance at the reception at the Soho House. Paparazzi captured photos of some famous faces leaving the reception. Music producers Lou Adler, Jimmy Iovine, and Rick Rubin were all in attendance. Actor Sean Penn was also spotted, as was model-actress Liberty Ross who is married to Iovine.
It is unclear if the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is usually available to be reserved for a private event. Their website doesn’t indicate if it is a possibility or what that would cost. Harrison and Petty’s funerals were likely exceptional circumstances and not the norm. The combination of their fame and spirituality may have been a factor in their unique funerals.
Soho House Malibu is an exclusive members-only venue. To access the club, you must pay an annual membership fee that is currently $2321.40 including sales tax. There is also a one-time registration fee that is currently $574.88 including sales tax. Members can also reserve intimate event spaces for events. They include:
- Atrium: This space accommodates 12 people and is often used for private dinners.
- Private Dining Room: This is another dining spot for luncheons and dinners, with a small capacity of 10.
- South Terrace: For a slightly larger group, this outdoor area accommodates 28 guests.
It is unclear whether there is an additional fee to reserve the event spaces. You can inquire about their website, but you need to be a member first.
Songs or performances
Because both the funeral and later reception were private, it is unknown what songs may have been played. When Petty’s daughter AnnaKim Violette posted some photos from the funeral, she captioned some of them with lyrics from her father’s songs.
A photo of a small bouquet of flowers was captioned with the line “You belong somewhere you feel free,” from the song “Wildflowers.” Another photo is captioned with “The dark of the sun we will stand together,” which is a rephrased line from “The Dark of the Sun.”
Many of the guests who left the post-funeral reception were photographed holding paper bags that appeared to have funeral favors. AnnaKim Violette shared a photograph of a specially-made ringer concert-style t-shirt featuring Petty. These shirts were apparently distributed to guests.
Only a musician could get away with having a tour-esque t-shirt as a funeral favor. That said, attendees at Petty’s funeral would have likely treasured this specific tribute to the musician.
Tom Petty’s Burial and Resting Place
When famous people die, their fans often flock to their gravesites. There are famous graves all over the world. So where was Tom Petty laid to rest?
Tom Petty was cremated, and his ashes were returned to his family. It is unknown whether his ashes have been scattered anywhere, and there is no known headstone or gravesite.
Memorial sites and events
Fans of Petty do have a place where they can go to remember him, though. Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, and has often been referred to as the city’s “favorite son.” When he was alive, they claimed him proudly. Now that he has died, the city continues to pay tribute in loving memory of the musician. He grew up near a recreational area known as Northeast Park and went there often growing up. That park has now been renamed to Tom Petty Park.
Petty’s musical legacy also continues in the city of his birth. After his death, local musicians organized a free grassroots music festival called the Tom Petty Birthday Bash. The first one was held on the weekend of what would have been his birthday in 2017, and plans are for it to be an annual tradition. In 2020, the Petty estate collaborated with organizers and put on a virtual show. Luminaries like Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, and The Killers performed in honor of the iconic musician.
The Legacy of Tom Petty
The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” It’s true that music connects us to one another like nothing else. That may be why we revere musicians so much.
They speak to something deep within us and help us feel understood. Tom Petty, in particular, was fiercely protective of his artistic freedom. His creative integrity helped him create music that will continue living on even now that he’s no longer with us.
- “Our story.” Tompettybirthdaybash.com, Tom Petty Birthday Bash, 23 October 2020, www.tompettybirthdaybash.com/about.
- “Tom Petty’s Post-Funeral Service Reception Included Concert Merch.” Theblast.com, TheBlast, 10 June 2019, theblast.com/c/tom-petty-funeral-service-reception-shirt-gift-bag.
- Sacks, Ethan. “Tom Petty’s daughter shares heartbreaking pictures from his private funeral.” Today.com, Today, 17 October 2017, www.today.com/popculture/tom-petty-s-daughter-shares-pictures-private-funeral-t11765.