Tom Petty dead at 66 – music world pays tribute to rock and roll icon

Tom Petty

Tom Petty

Rock and roll icon Tom Petty has died aged 66, the music world reflects on his legacy.

US musician Tom Petty has died in California aged 66 according to a statement issued on behalf of his family.

Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home early on Monday.

He was taken to hospital, but could not be revived and died later that evening.

Petty was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers rock band, producing such hits as American Girl, Breakdown, Free Fallin’, Learning to Fly and Refugee.

He died peacefully at 20:40 Pacific time (03:40 GMT Tuesday) surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends,” said his long-time manager Tony Dimitriades.

A statement on the singer’s Twitter page described Petty’s passing as an “untimely death“.

Petty was also a co-founder of the Traveling Wilburys group in the late 1980s, touring with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison.

It’s shocking, crushing newsDylan told the Los Angeles Times.

I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.

Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida, in 1950.

Aged 17, Petty dropped out of school to join Mudcrutch with future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench.

The band learned their craft by listening to pop radio, he once told NPR.

In the early 1970s, they moved to Los Angeles in the hope of finding a record contract. Petty succeeded, but the band fell apart soon after.

It was not until 1975 that the musicians reunited and The Heartbreakers were formed. The quintet released their self-titled debut a year later.

This summer, the musicians performed in London’s Hyde Park.

That show was intended to be a celebration of The Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary, but now serves as the band’s UK swan song.

The band wrapped up their tour at the Hollywood Bowl just a week ago.

Other tributes include those from fellow musicians Sir Paul McCartney, Carole King, Brian Wilson and Cyndi Lauper.

McCartney tweeted that he was “sending his love” to Petty and his family, while King said her “heart goes out” to “family, friends and fans of Tom Petty, of which I’m one“.

Here’s some social media reaction to Tom Petty’s death