Tom Petty dead: Family confirms death of legendary rock star aged 66

Legendary artist Tom Petty has died aged 66, his family has confirmed.

Confusion surrounded the singer over conflicting reports of his wellbeing, which emerged after he experienced a heart attack at the age of 66.

The singer-songwriter was reportedly rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica hospital on Monday after being found unconscious in his Malibu home.

According to an initial LAPD source via CBS News and Variety, he was taken off life support soon after.

Yet later tweets from CBS and the LAPD claim that the department has “no information about the passing of singer Tom Petty” and any information has been “inadvertently provided”, with both apologisng.

However a later, official statement on behalf of his family confirmed that he had died.

“We are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty,” Mr Dimitriades said on behalf of the family.

He died peacefully at 8:40pm local time (3:40am GMT on Tuesday) surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.

Petty was born in Gainesville, FL, on 20 October, 1950, into a rough childhood. He lived in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic father, when an encounter with Elvis Presley in the Fifties saw him gain an interest in rock music. Aged 17, he dropped out of school to play in a band – Mudcrutch.

He would later rise to fame with his band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the 1970s, releasing several hits including “Free Fallin’”, “Listen to Her Heart” and “American Girl”. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

The band’s self-titled album dropped in 1976, eventually going Gold and with two classic rock anthems: “Breakdown” and “American Girl”.

It was the band’s third album, 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes! which saw the band enjoy their breakthrough to mainstream success. The album peaked at No.2 and went triple Platinum, producing two top 20 hits with “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That”.

He joined George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in the “supergroup-to-end-all-supergroups” – the Traveling Wilburys.

Petty would continue to collaborate with Lynne for his solo debut, 1989’s Full Moon Fever, which went five-times Platinum and hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200. It also produced produced arguably his best-known song: “Free Fallin’”.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had continued to perform for the past four decades, and played a sold-out show at BST Hyde Park in London this year, where Petty performed wth Stevie Nicks for their hit ‘81 duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”.

Petty’s final show was last week, performing three sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl to conclude their 40th anniversary tour, CBS News reports.

​He told Rolling Stone that he thought this would be the group’s last tour together.

“It’s very likely we’ll keep playing, but will we take on 50 shows in one tour? I don’t think so. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thinking this might be the last big one. We’re all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road. This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time.”

Tributes have flooded in for the iconic artist, with singers such as Sheryl Crow posting their grief at the news.

“This is unbearable. Vegas and now a great music hero has passed,” she tweeted. “You brought us so mch joy, @tompetty. We will miss you. I feel like today, the music truly died. Can’t go see/hear music and be safe and one of the greats just passed.”

His frequent collaborator Cameron Crowe wrote: “No words. Just thanks.”

"It’s shocking, crushing news," Petty's friend and Traveling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan told 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.”

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