US singer Tom Petty has died aged 66 following a heart attack.
Spokeswoman Carla Sacks confirmed the singer's death and said Petty died on Monday night at the UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles.
A statement on the singer’s Twitter page said: “On behalf of the Tom
Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely 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 this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Centre but could not be revived.”
Tony Dimitriades, manager of Tom Petty And the Heartbreakers, added in the statement that he died peacefully surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.
Earlier, CBS News originally reported that police had confirmed the singer’s death but the Los Angeles Police Department later said details had “inadvertently” been given out and the force had “no information”. It was later clarified that he was “seriously ill”, before a spokeswoman later confirmed his death.
Petty gained fame as part of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the late 1970s, a band seen as integral to the heartland rock movement. Their biggest hits included I Won't Back Down and American Girl.
Petty was originally part of country rock band Mudcrutch, who gained regional popularity but didn't attract a mainstream audience. They later reformed in 2007 but originally split after Petty and other members joined the Heartbreakers. In 1977 the band gained success with the song Breakdown, but it was their second album You're Gonna Get It! that became a top 40 hit.
Change of Heart
Throughout the 1980s, the band enjoyed major hits including You Got Lucky and Change of Heart, and collaborated with Bob Dylan as well as Stevie Nicks. Petty continued to work with Dylan as part of the band Traveling Wilburys, alongside Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne.
Petty also enjoyed solo success, but always returned to the Heartbreakers, who released their last album in 2014. "I don't see that I have anything to offer as a solo artist that I couldn't do within the group better," he told the Sun. "We get along so well it's embarrassing really. It's a love fest!"
The band had been on a 40th anniversary tour since April that finished last week at the Hollywood Bowl. In an interview with Rolling Stone last December, he suggested it would probably be his last.
“We’re all on the backside of our 60s,” he said. “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.”
Petty has also been outspoken in his protection of the rights of artists, taking issue with record companies on a number of occasions over what he believed to be unjust practices. Earlier this year he was named MusiCares person of the year for his “career-long interest in defending artists’ rights” as well as for his charitable work with the homeless population of Los Angeles.
Across his career he has sold more than 80 million records worldwide.