Rocker Billy Thorpe dies of heart attack
One of Australia's best-known rock musicians, Billy Thorpe, has died at the age of 60.
The singer suffered a massive heart attack at his home in Sydney's eastern suburbs, early Wednesday morning.
He was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital but died at 2:30am AEDT, with family members by his side.
The rock singer worked for a series of bands in Sydney after emigrating from England, including in a support act for Johnny O'Keefe.
Billy Thorpe became a household name later in the 1960s and into the 1970s with his band, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs.
He was at the forefront of the rock scene that emerged through festivals like Sunbury, the outdoor concert near Melbourne that was described as Australia's Woodstock.
On being told of the news, New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma said he was saddened at the death of a great Australian.
"I'd heard earlier this morning that he'd had a heart attack and had been taken to hospital," he said.
"We were all hoping and praying that he'd pull through.
"My condolences to his family, and it's tragic news - a great Australian, and one of the real pioneers of the Australian rock industry and one of the most successful.
"He was one of the first Australians that achieved success internationally and our thoughts are with his family today."
Rock historian Glenn A Baker says he has been devastated by the death of a man whose band, the Aztecs, set the standard for Australian pub rock.
"The Sunbury Aztecs just became a byword for the origins of Australian pub rock," he said.
"It's the one form of music we've done better and more convincingly than any other, and that is the sort of loud roaring howling ferocious pub-based bluesy rock and roll, and Thorpie with that voice..."
Former Midnight Oil singer and Labor politician Peter Garrett has told Channel Nine Thorpe was a great contributor to Australian music and will be sorely missed.
"He came back from the States and he just continued to build his presence," he said.
"He was a wonderful contributor to the music industry and he also had a real vitality and dynamism as a muso.
"He was an incredible singer, a really, really fine loud guitar player.
"I think he's going to be very, very sorely missed and I think I'm still in shock myself I have to say."
Billy Thorpe Website