Michael Peterson Passes Away

The 1970's icon dies of a heart attack at the age of 59

Michael Peterson's iconic frontside cutback. Photo: Falzon

Legendary surfer Michael Peterson, commonly known as MP, passed away today in his home in Australia. He was 59. According to a report in The Australian, Michael’s death was allegedly caused by a heart attack.

Growing up along the Gold Coast, Peterson was a consistent standout at Kirra. In 1971, he acquired early fame when he appeared in the film Morning of the Earth. The following year, he landed a legendary cover of Tracks magazine and set his career ablaze. Peterson became one of the most highly regarded surfers of his generation, helping to usher in the shortboard revolution, taking multiple wins, and cementing his legacy as one of the country’s premier surfers. In 1977, Peterson, displaying his phenomenal tuberiding skills, took a win at the Stubbies Pro at Burleigh, a contest now regarded as the first ever World Tour event.

Although he was supremely talented in the water, Peterson’s life was not without hardship. A diagnosed schizophrenic, Peterson’s struggles included addiction and a 15-car police chase that resulted in Peterson doing time in prison.

When he was released from prison, Peterson became reclusive and chose to live his life outside of the limelight.

Despite his tribulations, there’s no denying that Peterson was an integral figure in surfing’s history. He will be missed.

Click here to read Michael Peterson’s profile in The 50 Greatest SURFER's of All Time from the August 2009 issue of SURFER. MP finished 16th on the list. The author, Sean Doherty, was also MP's biographer.