US music legend Tom Petty has died in California aged 66,

The veteran rocker had been found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home early on Monday.

Petty, known for hits such as Free Fallin and American Girl  was taken to UCLA Santa Monica hospital  but could not be revived and died later that evening.

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His long-time manager Tony Dimitriades confirmed the news in a statement on behalf of the family,  saying: “We are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty.

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"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. [local time] surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

Tributes to the star poured in on social media, with many people saying Petty's songs had helped them cope with the shock earlier in the day of the worst mass shooting in US history in Las Vegas.

Bob Dylan called his death “shocking, crushing news”.

"I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I'll never forget him."

Paul McCartney tweeted that he was "sending love" to the late singer's family. HeraldScotland:

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“I’m shocked and saddened by the news of Tom’s passing, he’s such a huge part of our musical history, there’ll never be another like him," said Eric Clapton.

Alice Cooper added: “It is so rare to find someone who commands such universal respect in the business. He was a rock n roll lifer with music in his blood. This man delivered a wealth of great songs to his fans and to the world and that is something to celebrate.”

Beach Boys star Brian Wilson said he was "heartbroken" to hear the news.

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The Florida-born musician gained fame as part of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the late 1970s and were known fo hits such as  I Won’t Back Down and Learnin' to Fly.

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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”.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers embarked on a 40th anniversary tour of the United States this year and played his last three dates in late September at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The band was scheduled to perform two shows in New York in November.

Petty had said he caught the rock‘n‘roll bug after he was introduced by his uncle to Elvis Presley, who was shooting the film Follow That Dream on location in Florida in 1960.

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He has said he began working on music in earnest after seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964.

Amid his successes, Petty also suffered dark periods during a career spanning five decades.

A 2015 biography of the singer Petty: The Biography, revealed for the first time the rocker’s heroin addiction in the 1990s.