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Awaiting more information, local Tom Petty fans pay tribute

Tom Petty, the rocker best known as the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, has died at the age of 66, his longtime manager said late Monday.

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Rock icon Tom Petty is reportedly clinging to life following a cardiac arrest. News sources on the West coast prematurely announced his death Monday afternoon but according to more recent reports he is still alive at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital.

But the outlook does not look good. Already fans across the country are paying tribute to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

In Milwaukee, fans describe Tom Petty as ubiquitous at Summerfest where performed dozens of times. In fact, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were the special two-night act at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater just about three months ago.

Some people who live by his music say they are crushed. It's a rough afternoon for Jacob Miller who is not only member of a Tom Petty tribute band (Learning to Fly: A Tribute to Tom Petty) but he also calls the songs and sets "the soundtrack to his life".

"The most recent being Summerfest this year. I went both nights. Once on the lawn, once fourth row - somewhere around there. Close enough to see him sweat," Miller said.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee afternoon host Ken Sumka played a full hour of Petty's songs during Monday's evening drive. He says the deceivingly simple style just resonates with people.

"He's someone whose music has been an integral part of my life for most of it," Sumka said.

"He wasn't the good looking matinee idol guy. He wasn't a particularly handsome guy. But he was who he was. He was Tom Petty," Sumka said.

And many fans believe Petty genuinley liked Milwaukee. He calls himself "The King of Milwaukee" in his song "Honeybee" (perhaps in jest, perhaps not).

"He has this huge fan base that spans from my parents to my friends kids and they can all appreciate it. And I think that's going to go on forever," Miller said.

So far there has been no comment from Petty's family or management regarding the singer's health.

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