US singer Tom Petty
US singer Tom Petty

Confirmed: Rocker Tom Petty dead aged 66

TOM Petty has died aged 66.

The legendary Free Fallin' rocker suffered cardiac arrest earlier this morning according to a statement released by Petty's longtime manager.

"On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty," Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, wrote in a statement on behalf of the 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."

The legendary Free Fallin' rocker, 66, was rushed to hospital and put on life support after being found unconscious and not breathing in his Malibu home, reports TMZ.

According to TMZ, emergency crews were unable to find a pulse and he was showing no signs of brain activity after arriving at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital.

His loved ones made the decision to switch off life support a short time later.

TMZ has published audio of the 911 call made by Petty's wife after she discovered her husband wasn't breathing.

In the clip, an emotional Dana York can be heard telling the dispatcher she needs help because he's not responding, to which she's told to kneel down on the ground and give him CPR.

Petty burst onto the scene in 1976 with his band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

They had a stream of major hits, including I Won't Back Down, American Girl, Runnin' Down A Dream and Free Fallin'.

Over the years, the rock icon won 3 Grammys, racked up 18 nominations, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1988, Petty teamed up with music greats Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne to create Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1. It reached number three on the album chart and was certified triple platinum.

His band - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - had wrapped up their most recent tour just weeks ago. The four-month run of shows started in April and was in honour of their 40th anniversary.

They thanked fans for their support in a video posted on the band's Facebook in late September.

Speaking to Rolling Stone late last year, Petty revealed the tour would likely be "the last big one".

"We're all on the backside of our 60s," he told the publication. "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."

As the news broke earlier today, a number of celebrities and fellow musicians took to social media to pay tribute to him.

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