False reports of Tom Petty death cause stir

Rocker Tom Petty was reportedly hospitalized in serious condition after suffering a heart attack

Fans of rocker Tom Petty poured out their grief Monday on reports he had died of a heart attack — until it turned out that he hadn’t.

The 66-year-old rocker appeared to have serious health problems, but his daughter angrily dismissed news organization’s reports that he had died.

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 apologize 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.

– Petty ‘won’t back down’ –

The rocker’s daughter, artist Annakim Violette Petty, flatly denied he was dead and lashed out at Rolling Stone.

“How dare you report that my father has died just to get press because your articles and photos are so dated?” she wrote in a profanity-laden Instagram post along with an image of Tom Petty on a 1979 cover.

But she suggested in other posts that her father was indeed facing health issues. She thanked well-wishers, saying, “This has been the longest day of my life” and writing, in a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement, “Dad Lives Matter.”

Representatives for Petty did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the coroner’s office said he had no information of Petty’s death, while a police official said the department would not normally comment on a death unless there were suggestions of foul play.

The embarrassing mix-up brought stunned reactions to social media as well as some light-hearted remarks.

“Leave it to Tom Petty to Not Back Down,” screenwriter Randi Mayem Singer tweeted, referring to one of Petty’s best-known songs.

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.

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