US rock star Tom Petty dies aged 66

The singer-songwriter passed away at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home.

    US rock star Tom Petty, famous for classics such as Free Fallin', Refugee and American Girl, has died at the age of 66.

    The singer-songwriter passed away on Monday night at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California, spokeswoman Carla Sacks said.

    Petty "died peacefully" at 8:40pm (03:40 GMT onTuesday) "surrounded by family, his bandmates, and friends," a statement from his longtime manager Tony Dimitriades 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," Dimitriades said in the statement.

    Petty performing with his band, The Heartbreakers, during halftime of the NFL's Super Bowl in 2008 [File: Jeff Haynes/Reuters]

    Last tour

    Petty and his longtime band the Heartbreakers had recently completed a 40th anniversary tour, one he hinted would be their last.

    "I'm thinking it may be the last trip around the country," Petty told Rolling Stone last year.

    "We're all on the backside of our 60s. 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."

    Usually backed by the Heartbreakers, Petty broke through in the 1970s and went on to sell more than 80 million records.

    Petty speaking after being inducted during the 47th Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York on June 9, 2016 [File: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

    The Gainesville, Florida, native with the shaggy blond hair and gaunt features was loved for his melodic hard rock, nasally vocals and down-to-earth style.

    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002, praised them as "durable, resourceful, hard-working, likeable and unpretentious".

    Petty's albums included Damn the Torpedoes, Hard Promises and Full Moon Fever; although his first No. 1 did not come until 2014 - Hypnotic Eye.

    As a songwriter, he focused often on daily struggles and the will to overcome them, most memorably on Refugee, Even the Losers and I Won't Back Down.

    "It's sort of the classic theme of a lot of the work I've done," he told The Associated Press in 1989. "I think faith is very important just to get through life. I think it's really important that you believe in yourself, first of all. It's a very hard to thing to come by. But when you get it, it's invaluable."

    Shortly after news of Petty's death broke, musicians and fans across the world took to social media to pay tribute to the legendary rocker.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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