Rock 'n' roll legend Tom Petty dies at 66 after suffering cardiac arrest
Tom Petty's legendary music career dated back to the 1960s and included multiple bands along with solo work. USA TODAY
Rocker Tom Petty has died in Los Angeles after being found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his Malibu home Sunday.
"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," Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, said Monday night in a statement sent to USA TODAY on behalf of Petty's family.
"He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends."
Initial reports Monday afternoon from TMZ and CBS News said Petty, 66, had died. CBS cited the Los Angeles Police Department. LAPD later tweeted that this was an inadvertent mistake and that they had no investigative role in the case. Malibu is in the county of Los Angeles, not the city of Los Angeles.
Variety also reported Petty had died, citing an anonymous source. Later, the entertainment trade paper retracted its report, also based on LAPD's "incorrect information."
TMZ initially reported that Petty had "no brain activity" when he reached the hospital and that life support was pulled. An hour later, the website reported that he was still "clinging to life" but was not expected to survive.
Petty, a grandfather, had just finished a 40th-anniversary tour at the end of September, playing arenas, festivals and an occasional stadium.
"I'm thinking it may be the last trip around the country," Petty told Rolling Stone in December before the tour kicked off in April.
"It's very likely we'll keep playing, but will we take on 50 shows in one tour? I don't think so. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was thinking this might be the last big one. 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."
His last tweet, on Sept. 29, thanked fans for supporting the tour.
"Thanks to everyone for supporting us for the last 40 years! Without YOU, there'd be no US!" he posted.
Petty, who grew up in Gainesville, Fla., with an emotionally and physically abusive father, filed for bankruptcy in 1979 after legal disputes with his label and lost his house to arson in 1987. He split in 1996 from his first wife, Jane Benyo, after 22 years of marriage and succumbed to drugs and depression.
"In my childhood, I was in such a troubled household," Petty told USA TODAY. "I see why I became a rock 'n' roll fanatic. Music was a safe place."
Petty was a longtime smoker. As he told Men's Journal in 2015, he smoked from the time he was 17 though he had gone down to less than a pack a day. But he didn't bother to pretend he was trying to quit.
"I'm an addict, man," he said then.
In June 2010, he was trying to quit, even taking up electric cigarettes, which helped his wife, Dana, quit smoking.
"I've cut way down," he told USA TODAY. "You get vapor and a shot of nicotine, nothing burning."