Entertainment Music American rock icon Tom Petty dies at the age of 66
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American rock icon Tom Petty dies at the age of 66

Tom Petty
Rock Icon Tom Petty is reportedly clinging to life after a cardiac arrest. Photo: Getty
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American rock icon Tom Petty has passed away in a southern California hospital at the age of 66.

In a statement issued on behalf of the Petty family, Petty’s longtime manager Tony Dimitriades confirmed the music legend suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of Monday morning and could not be revived.

“We are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend,” the statement read.

Petty passed away at 8.40 on Monday night “surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends”.

CBS News had earlier reported that Petty, 66, had died after life support was switched off following cardiac arrest on Sunday.

TMZ later reported that Petty was “still clinging to life” despite being taken off life support but was “not expected to live through the day”.

The Los Angeles Police Department, cited by CBS as the source of the death confirmation, said it was a mistake.

“The LAPD has no information about the passing of singer Tom Petty. Initial information was inadvertently provided to some media sources,” it tweeted.

“However, the LAPD has no investigative role in this matter. We apologise for any inconvenience in this reporting.”

In audio of the initial 911 call, Petty’s distraught wife Dana York could be heard telling the dispatcher Petty “wasn’t breathing at all”.

Tom Petty’s wife’s 911 call (warning: confronting content)

Petty, along with his long-time backing band the Heartbreakers, only just wrapped up their 40th anniversary tour last week at the Hollywood Bowl, where he appeared to be in good health and high spirits.

Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, on October 20, 1950, the son of an insurance salesman.

After dropping out of high school at 17 to join southern-rock group Mudcrutch, Petty started his career in earnest in 1975 when he formed the Heartbreakers and recorded a debut album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1976.

The Heartbreakers had a stream of major hits, including I Won’t Back Down, American Girl, Runnin’ Down A Dream and Free Fallin’.

Petty won three Grammys over the years after 18 nominations, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1988, Petty joined up with music greats Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne to create the Traveling Wilburys.

Speaking to Rolling Stone late last year, Petty said the Heartbreakers’ just-completed tour would likely be “the last big one”.

“We’re all on the backside of our 60s,” he was quoted as saying.

“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.”

-With AAP

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