We may have seen Tom Petty for the last time, but his inspiring works have left an indelible impression in our hearts and in the entertainment industry. Petty was the vibrant and talented singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer, and actor who always captivated his fans and demanded more. He was the leader of the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which he formed in 1976. After years of serving the public with quality music, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. There is so much to know about the legendary musician’s life during his time on earth. Here are some less known facts about him.
Tom Petty Biography
He was born Thomas Earl Petty on October 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida, as the son of his parents, Katherine Petty, his mother, and Earl Petty, his father. Petty’s affection for music and its components began at a very young age. This desire continued after he came into contact with the famous singer and actor Elvis Presley. His paths crossed in 1961 when his uncle was working behind the scenes of the Elvs movie, with the big band. He fell in love with the singer’s style, so he did not hesitate to trade his toys for a collection of Elvis songs.
Petty also dreamed of being part of a band and so much wanted to have one to his name. Tom Petty took the first step toward fulfilling his dreams when he formed a band in 1976 – the Epics. The Epics, which consisted of Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and of course Petty, became a sensation in Gainesville, even after their name was changed to Mudcrutch. However, the group split up and went their separate ways, and Petty sought ways to continue. Although it wasn’t easy at first, he went solo and began performing his own songs.
Another group, Heartbreakers, was formed, but Petty was not one of them. The Heartbreakers were made up of Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, and Stan Lynch. The group released several albums and later joined forces with Petty to perform songs in concerts. In 1988, Tom joined the Travelling Wilburys, founded by George Harrison. The group released several albums that sold very well commercially.
During all this, Petty also wrote his own songs. In 1989 the singer and songwriter released his first studio album Full Moon Fever after working with Heartbreakers and other well-known musicians. The album produced three hit tracks: I Won’t Back Down, Free Fallin, and Running Down a Dream.
Following the success of the album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers regrouped in 1991 and played “Into the Great Wide Open”. The group then released several titles, including a soundtrack for the movie “She’s the One” starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. In 1999 the group released their tenth and probably last album Echo.
It was definitely not the end for Petty, who released a solo album Highway Companion in 2006. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and was a huge commercial success. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers got together again towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium and released another album Mojo. Their 13th album Hypnotic Eye was released in July 2014, and Tom and the Heartbreakers celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2017, the same year the legendary musician lost his life.
Cause of Death
Tom Petty died on October 2, 2017, after suffering from complications of mixed drug toxicity. On this fateful day, the singer was found unconscious in his home. After several attempts, he was resuscitated and transferred to UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. Unfortunately, he died on the evening of the same day in the hospital.
In January 2018, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner revealed that he died of mixed drug poisoning. He had taken a combination of opioids and analgesics, to which he reacted.
Family – Wife, Daughters
Left behind to mourn Tom Petty are his children and their mothers. The singer was first married to Jane Benyo in 1974. The marriage, which lasted over twenty years, was a model for many couples in the industry at the time until the couple separated in 1996. More than twenty years after the divorce, Petty revealed the reason for the failure of his first marriage in his struggle with heroin addiction. Petty and Benyo had two daughters together; Adria, a director, and AnnaKim, an artist.
Tom Petty remarried Dana York in 2001. He was a stepfather of York’s son Dylan, whom she had from her previous marriage.