What Tom Petty Was Like The Last Time These Celebs Saw Him Alive

The tragic death of Tom Petty took the rock world aback in October 2017. The iconoclastic rock star was getting on in years, but he definitely wasn't old (he was 66 when he died). According to NPR, Petty's untimely death was due to an accidental overdose caused by several drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, and five others. He had been taking the pain alleviation and other medications for a number of ailments he had recently been suffering, the most serious of which was a fractured hip. He was also suffering from emphysema and had issues with his knees.

The last 12 months of Petty's life were a bittersweet mix of reunions with old friends — including the bandmates with whom he rose to stardom — and the problems caused by the singer-songwriter's declining health. He and The Heartbreakers had gotten back together for a tour to honor the band's 40th anniversary, and they spent most of 2017 rocking out packed arenas from coast to coast. Those close to Petty reported seeing the genuine joy and simmering passion he had for his work shine through, even as it was obvious that his body was unable to keep up like it did in the old days. Let's take a look at what other celebrities had to say about Tom Petty the last time they saw him alive.

Dave Grohl saw Tom Petty live just a week before his death

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl had a history with Tom Petty. If you can believe it, Grohl actually turned down a chance to join Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers way back in 1994, before the Foo Fighters got started on their path to headlining every single festival ever. According to NME, Grohl had always been a Tom Petty fan. "Even when I was a stubborn, cynical, punk-rock a**hole, I still loved Tom Petty," Grohl said, "because I felt like he was a stubborn, cynical, punk-rock a**hole, too."

So despite his refusal of Petty's offer to play drums for The Heartbreakers, Grohl was a lifelong fan, and even saw the legendary singer's final concert at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25. He saw a Tom Petty full of life and love for his music and his fans. "I saw his last show, and it was wonderful," he told Rolling Stone. "It was exuberant and beautiful and happy and sounded amazing and the band was better than I had seen them in a long time and ... and then he's gone. It's hard to believe he's gone, but fortunately we have his music. That was a real tough one. That one hurt a lot."

Singer-songwriter Paul Zollo also witnessed Tom Petty's exuberance

Paul Zollo is a musician and music journalist. In 2005 he published "Conversations with Tom Petty," a biography born of an entire year of Saturdays spent chatting with the head Heartbreaker. Zollo was also present at Tom Petty's final concert, and he said that he saw the same joyful and excited Tom Petty that Grohl described. "I don't think I've ever seen him more happy," Zollo told CBC Radio. "They let me take photos right in front and he smiled so openly and joyously at me."

Petty had told Zollo all about his struggles with cocaine in the 1980s, how he ended up punching a wall in frustration during a recording session, injuring his hand and causing a doctor to tell him he'd never play guitar again. Petty was able to quit that drug problem and move on, but he unfortunately met opioids later in life, and they proved to be his downfall. But, like Grohl, Zollo said Petty will live on in his music. "I think Tom Petty will be considered one of the great and maybe last true rock 'n' roll American heroes," he said.

Lucinda Williams warmed up Tom Petty's final crowd for him

Tom Petty's love for life and his music was also apparent backstage at what the world would sadly learn was to be his final concert. Friend and fellow singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams opened for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers that night, and she told Rolling Stone that the Petty she saw was all smiles. "He had a big smile, and he was putting a cough drop in his mouth," she said. "I didn't want to stay too long. It was getting close to showtime. I said, 'Tom, the audience is rockin'. They're good to go. I've warmed them up for you.' He looked at me and goes, 'I bet you did,' with those twinkly eyes and that beautiful face." She hugged her old friend for what would be the last time.

In February 2017, Williams was among several artists to pay tribute to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at an event held by musicians health-care charity MusiCares, which had named Petty its Person of the Year. Others to pay tribute included Don Henley, Foo Fighters, Regina Spector, the Bangles, and Cage the Elephant, and more.

Music critic Randy Lewis saw a Tom Petty with plans for the future

The last person to interview Tom Petty was L.A. Times music critic Randy Lewis. He had interviewed Petty several times before, and Lewis in no way expected that afternoon just days before the singer's death to be the last time they would speak. "This is not the way things were supposed to happen," wrote Lewis. The Tom Petty he spoke to that day was by no means done rockin' and rollin'. Petty was riding high after his three sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl, shows which will now live on as canonical in the history of rock 'n' roll, and he was excited for what was to come next.

Petty was enjoying his work as a producer of new music, as well as chronicling his favorites from the past on his SiriusXM radio show "Tom Petty's Buried Treasure." The singer also confessed to having to force himself to slow down as he grew older. "It's hard for me," said Petty. "If I don't have a project going, I don't feel like I'm connected to anything. I don't even think it's that healthy for me. I like to get out of bed and have a purpose."

But Tom Petty's body just wasn't able to keep up with the hard work and play of the life of a wildly successful rock star, no matter the vibrancy of his creative spirit and the strength of his will to go on.

Tom Petty opened up to one of his best friends: Stevie Nicks

While Tom Petty's spirits were high on stage, some who were close to him were able to see the pain making cracks in the facade he was trying to maintain. People magazine notes that Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks had a deep conversation with him at the MusiCares ceremony in February 2017 in which he expressed how important the honor was for him at that moment in his life. "And maybe he was talking about it because [he] was ill," she said. "He was not well." Petty was more likely to open up to Nicks than to others, as the two had been close friends since 1978, according to The Sound. Perhaps Tom Petty knew that he had racked up quite a debt with his drug use and that he wasn't long for this world.

Although she saw the darkness inside him, Nicks said she would remember her friend for the same exuberance and love of music that others saw in him. "He should've canceled, and he should've just gone home and gone to the hospital. But not Tom," said Nicks. "And so, God bless him, he finished his tour at the Hollywood Bowl."

Nicks was also at that final Tom Petty show, watching from backstage and singing her lungs out with country music legend Shania Twain. "I look back on that and what a magical moment that was," Nicks told Rolling Stone. "Shania got to stand there with me and watch my boys."