Tom Petty, the rock musician whose hits included American Girl and I Won’t Back Down, has died in California aged 66 after suffering cardiac arrest.
Petty was reportedly rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica hospital after being found unconscious in his Malibu home, but could not be revived.
“We are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty,” his manager Tony Dimitriades said on behalf of the family.
“He died peacefully at 8.40pm surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
The singer-songwriter and guitarist gained fame in the late 1970s with his band the Heartbreakers, who were seen as an integral part of the heartland rock movement.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002, praised them as “durable, resourceful, hard-working, likeable and unpretentious”.
Petty was originally part of country rock band Mudcrutch, which gained regional popularity in Florida but did not attract a mainstream audience. They split after Petty and other members joined the Heartbreakers, later reforming in 2007.
In 1977 the new outfit gained success with the song Breakdown, but it was their second album You’re Gonna Get It! that became a Top 40 hit.
Throughout the 80s, the band enjoyed major hits including You Got Lucky and Change of Heart, collaborating with Bob Dylan as well as Stevie Nicks. Petty continued to work with Dylan as part of the Traveling Wilburys, alongside Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne.