77ºF

Rock music legend Tom Petty dead at 66, family says

Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performs on the main stage on day 2 of The Isle of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park on June 22, 2012 in Newport, Isle of Wight. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)
Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performs on the main stage on day 2 of The Isle of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park on June 22, 2012 in Newport, Isle of Wight. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Rock music icon Tom Petty, a Gainesville native, died Monday evening, his family announced. He was 66.

In a statement provided through manager Tom Dimitriades, Petty's family said the singer went into cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu early Monday morning. He was taken to UCLA Medical Center for treatment, but could not be revived.

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," the statement said, noting that the singer died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, band mates and friends.

The news comes after conflicting reports earlier Monday. Following a TMZ report disclosing Petty's hospitalization and grim prognosis, CBS News reported the singer had died, citing the Los Angeles Police Department. The network retracted that report and the LAPD apologized for the confusion.

Petty is best known for being the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with several hits to his credit. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Word of Petty's medical episode spread quickly around his hometown, where he attended Gainesville High School and played his first shows in the heart of the city. At Lillian’s Music Store on First Street, for instance, bar patrons were talking about the city's own rock legend.

"I grew up listening to his music. You know, I was born in 1968. I graduated high school in the '80s and I remember the first Tom Petty song I ever heard was ‘Refugee,'" said Jim Bounds, a Gainesville residents.

The downtown bar was once a music store, as its name implies, and one with storied roots. Bartender Tom Blake said for a time Petty would buy his guitar strings there. There's no doubt in Blake's mind that Petty cemented his status as a musical legend, both in Gainesville and around the world.

"Certainly when he worked, wound up playing with the Traveling Wilburys, all those guys being huge legends in the rock and roll business. And he gets included in that group with George Harrison and Bob Dylan, you’ve certainly earned your Hall of Fame spurs," Blake said.