Tom Petty, acclaimed rock musician, dies aged 66

His manager Tony Dimitriades confirms the news as stars pay tribute.

Legendary rocker Tom Petty has died, his manager has confirmed. He was 66.

 

The 'Don't Come Around Here No More' singer was rushed to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital on Sunday (October 1) after being found unresponsive at his Malibu home following cardiac arrest, according to TMZ.

 

A statement released by Tony Dimitriades on behalf of Tom's family confirmed the news of his passing, saying: "On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend, Tom Petty.

 

"He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of the morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center, but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8.40pm PST surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends."

The world of music reacted with shock to the sad news, and turned to social media to pay tribute to the American icon.

Despite initial, widespread reports to the contrary earlier on Monday (October 2), TMZ reported that afternoon that Petty was still fighting for his life and had not passed away, but was in a critical condition in hospital.

 

The LAPD later apologised on its social media channels for "inadvertently" providing information to the media which appeared to prematurely confirm his passing.

Petty was apparently not breathing when EMTs started tending to him and was swiftly checked into a local medical centre on life support.

 

The Heartbreakers frontman had only just completed a summer tour at the Hollywood Bowl last Monday (September 25). Together, Petty and the Heartbreakers defined late '70s rock and more than earned their place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Petty's interest in music began while growing up in Gainesville, Florida when he saw The Beatles make their now-legendary first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.

 

It must certainly have been a thrill a quarter of a century later when Petty formed one-fifth of the rock supergroup Travelling Wilburys with former Beatle George Harrison and fellow rock legends Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.

 

"It's shocking, crushing news," Dylan said to Rolling Stone. "I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I'll never forget him."

 

Petty put together his own now-legendary backing band, the Heartbreakers, from the cream of the crop of local Gainesville musicians in 1976. Later that year, they'd release a self-titled debut studio album that spawned the would-be classics 'Breakdown' and 'American Girl'.

However, it was 1979's Damn the Torpedoes that skyrocketed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to number two on the US album charts, as well as the upper echelon of late '70s rock acts.

 

Throughout the next decade, Petty would rack up four more US top ten albums, both with the Heartbreakers and solo, as well as hitting number one on the rock charts a total of six times by 1989.

Petty and the Heartbreakers also inspired many of the alternate rock bands of the early '90s, most famously Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Phish. Above, you can see Dave Grohl playing with Petty on Saturday Night Live.

 

In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a particularly impressive class along with Isaac Hayes, The Ramones, Talking Heads and Brenda Lee.

 

Throughout his near-50-year career, Petty earned three Grammy Awards and sold more than 80 million albums.

 

The tributes from fellow musicians and fans have continued to pour in following the news – including Coldplay, who covered 'Free Fallin'' with REM guitarist Peter Buck at their show in Oregon on Monday night in honour of Petty.

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