Even though Tom Petty was one of the best at rock and roll, his personal life was marred by failed marriages, drug abuse, and abusive relationships. While many claims that Tom could have reached greater heights had he not struggled with drug abuse, no one can say for sure. Even though he passed away in 2017, Petty’s legacy is still remembered and so is his failed marriage to Jane Benyo. In the word of the late Petty, his marriage to Benyo was nothing short of a dark time in his life. In this article, we will take a closer look at what little is known about his former wife.
Jane Benyo Petty is an American woman who was the first wife of the late rock star Tom Petty.
Jane Benyo was born in Gainesville, Florida, at an unspecified date. Little is known about Benyo and details on her early life, parents, and siblings have remained a mystery. As Petty’s fame grew in stature, so did Jane’s. She first met Petty when the pair attended Gainesville High School and the pair began dating after a short while.
Marriage to Petty and rise to fame:
Jane and Petty met during their high school years. At the same time, Petty introduced Jane to Stevie Knicks. At their first meet-up, Benyo revealed that she was 17 years of age. But due to her thick southern accent, it sounded like ‘edge of seventeen.’ What started as a misunderstanding soon became a hit song for Stevie Knicks. As she told Benyo,
“It’s got to be ‘edge.’ ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ is perfect. I’m going to write a song.”
At the time Petty and Jane began dating, Petty was slowly climbing the ladders of fame and was en-course to become a rockstar. The umbrella of fame extended to Jane who was recognized as the wife of Tom Petty.
Marriage and Kids:
Tom and Jane got married in 1974. The wedding was done after the birth of their first child, Adria. Following the marriage, the pair decided to move to Los Angeles so that Petty could work on music. It was in Los Angeles that the pair had their second child, AnnaKim Violette. Both of Petty’s daughters are currently working in the entertainment industry. While the eldest, Adria, is a director who has worked on music videos for artists like Rihanna, Beyonce, Coldplay, and others, her sister, AnnaKim, is an artist and designer.
Depression and divorce:
As Petty’s fame grew, so did the problems between Petty and Jane. By the early 1990s, Jane was already into drugs and struggled to come to terms with Petty’s fame and busy work schedule. She developed severe mental illness and would often get into large fights with Petty. During the early 1990s, Benyo moved out of the house for a while. Petty had hit rock bottom during the time and had nearly ended his career in music by punching the wall with his playing hand.
“But at that time in my life, my marriage, and just about everything else, was on the rocks. I was just overindulging more than I should — the brandy was coming around more often. I was hitting all sorts of walls,”
Even though Benyo loved Petty, she would often turn verbally abusive and could not come to terms with her insecurities. The pair called things off in 1996 and Benyo erased herself from mainstream media. Following the divorce, Benyo is rarely seen in the media and is living her life in silence. She purchased Petty’s childhood home in hopes of turning it into a museum.
A look back at Tom Petty and his life journey:
Tom Petty was an American musician and actor who was the lead vocalist and guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, formed in 1976. He was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with over 80 million records sold worldwide.
Petty was born on October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida, where he met Elvis Presley as a child and became interested in rock music. He dropped out of high school to pursue his music career and formed the band Mudcrutch, which later evolved into the Heartbreakers. He achieved fame with hits such as “American Girl”, “Refugee”, “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “The Waiting”. He also had a successful solo career with songs like “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin’” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels”. He was a member of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. He won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He also appeared in several films and TV shows, such as The Postman, King of the Hill, and The Simpsons.