"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.
"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 singer's manager said in a statement.
The news of Petty's death capped a whirlwind day after his hospitalisation following cardiac arrest.
Born October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida, Petty became interested in the genre when he met Elvis Presley at age ten; he said he knew he wanted to form a band when he saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. He even took lessons from future Eagles guitarist Don Felder.
Petty formed his first band, Mudcrutch, in Gainesville at the age of 20. After the band dissolved in 1975, Petty recruited fellow Mudcrutchers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, along with Ron Blair and Stan Lynch to form his most popular group, the Heartbreakers.
After releasing their eponymous debut in 1976 and its follow-up, 1978's 'You're Gonna Git It!, the group became a commercial hit. Their next four albums, from 1979's 'Damn the Torpedoes' to 1985's 'Southern Accents', all charted in the top ten of Billboard's albums chart.
By the mid-'80s, Petty joined the league of big stars of rock n roll, touring and collaborating with the likes of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead.
His highest-profile collaboration as the '80s rolled into the '90s, when Petty joined with Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne to form the Traveling Wilburys.
Petty wrote his solo debut, 1989's 'Full Moon Fever', in conjunction with Lynne.
The rocker, however privately struggled with heroin addiction in the '90s, a 2015 biography revealed.
Between 1987 and 2002, the Heartbreakers released five more albums and Petty become one of the genre's most revered legacy acts, earning a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, in 2002.
This year, Petty staged a sprawling 40th anniversary tour
but had said that the tour, which ended up being his last, would likely be his "last big one."
Musicians and Hollywood stars expressed shock and grief over the news, paying tribute to the rock legend on social media.
"I covered his songs because I wanted to know what it felt like to fly," John Mayer tweeted.
Paul Stanley wrote, "From our opening act in the seventies to becoming a brilliant songwriter and performer, I have loved his music."
Sheryl Crow said, "I feel like today, the music truly died. Can't go see/hear music and be safe and one of the greats just passed."
"Sending love to Tom Petty and his family at this difficult time," Beatles drummer Ringo Starr tweeted.
Paul McCartney wrote, "Just when I thought today could not get any worse..."
Author Stephen King posted, "Tom Petty gone? That's just so wrong. What a bad day this has been, in so many ways."
"Today America lost one of its musical giants. Thank you Tom Petty for all the music. To me you will live forever," wrote Kiefer Sutherland.