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Rock star Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says

Tom Petty performed during halftime of the Super Bowl XLII in 2008David J. Phillip/Associated Press, file 2008

Legendary rock musician Tom Petty died of an accidental drug overdose “as a result of taking a variety of medications,” two of his relatives said in a Facebook post Friday evening.

Petty, who died in early October at the age of 66, suffered from “many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems, and most significantly a fractured hip,” according to the post from his family.

In a career that spanned four decades, Petty sold millions of records as a solo artist and with his band, The Heartbreakers. He was known for an array of radio-friendly hits, including “Free Fallin’,” “American Girl,” “Breakdown,” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance."


Despite his health problems, Petty insisted “on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured on 53 dates with a fractured hip,” according to his family’s statement. That, according to the statement, made the hip injury worse.

On the day Petty died, he was told his hip had “graduated” to a full-on break, according to his family. His family thought that the hip pain was “simply unbearable” and caused him to overuse his medication.

Petty was prescribed pain medications, including fentanyl patches, for various ailments, according to his family’s statement.

“We feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident,” read the family’s statement.

Petty died “painlessly and beautifully exhausted after doing what he loved the most, for one las time, performing live with his unmatchable rock band for his loyal fans,” said his relatives in their statement.

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.