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Subject: Howie Epstein, Bassist for Tom Petty

Santa Fe
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Date Posted: March 02, 2003 9:59:40 EDT

Howie Epstein, a former bass player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died Sunday of what the authorities suspect was a drug overdose. He was 47.

Investigators were told Mr. Epstein had been using heroin, said Maj. Ron Madrid of the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department. Mr. Epstein was driven to St. Vincent Hospital by his girlfriend, who described him as "under distress."

He had been a respected musician and producer for more than 20 years. In addition to his work with Mr. Petty, he played on some of Bob Dylan's albums in the 1980's and produced a Grammy-winning album for John Prine called "The Missing Years."

He also produced two albums for the singer Carlene Carter, his longtime girlfriend. One was nominated for a Grammy.

Mr. Epstein teamed up with Mr. Petty in 1982 and also worked with Roy Orbison, Del Shannon, John Hiatt, Stevie Nicks and Eric Anderson.

Mr. Epstein and Ms. Carter were arrested in June 2001 in Albuquerque with 2.9 grams of black-tar heroin and drug paraphernalia in a vehicle that had been reported stolen. Mr. Epstein was not charged. Ms. Carter pleaded no contest to a charge of heroin possession and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.

Mr. Epstein, who was born in Milwaukee, is survived by a 15-year-old daughter and two brothers.

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