Rocker Tom Petty dead at 66

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File: Tom Petty just last week had wrapped up a tour to mark 40 years of his band the Heartbreakers.

File: Tom Petty just last week had wrapped up a tour to mark 40 years of his band the Heartbreakers.

NEW YORK - Rocker Tom Petty died on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest, his family confirmed, hours after news organisations retracted unconfirmed reports of his death.

"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," a family statement said

Fans of Petty poured out their grief on Monday on reports he had died of a heart attack.

TMZ, the Los Angeles celebrity news site known for its scoops, first broke the story with news that Petty had been found unconscious at his home in Malibu on Sunday night.

TMZ later reported that he had been taken off life support. CBS television, quoting an unnamed police source, soon afterward said definitively that the rocker had died.

But the Los Angeles Police Department denied it was the source of the information. Writing on Twitter, the department said that "initial information was inadvertently provided to some media sources."

"We apologise for any inconvenience in this reporting," it tweeted.

Music magazine Rolling Stone, quoting CBS and TMZ, ran an obituary of Petty complete with a quote from rock legend Bob Dylan, who played with him in the former Traveling Wilburys supergroup.

Numerous fans and celebrities had already posted remembrances of Petty without any official word on his dead.

"I loved Tom Petty and I covered his songs because I wanted know what it felt like to fly," tweeted singer John Mayer, quoting from his song "Wildflowers": "You belong somewhere you feel free."

Petty -- whose hits also include "American Girl," "Don't Come Around Here No More" and "Free Fallin'" -- just last week had wrapped up a tour to mark 40 years of his band the Heartbreakers.

Born in Gainesville, Florida, Petty has infused his brand of rock 'n' roll with Southern influences and a dark lyrical sense, with songs of small-town Americans striving but facing roadblocks.