Jane Benyo is popularly known as the first wife of the famous rock musician Tom Petty. She came into the limelight in the 1970s when she got married to Petty who was enjoying a music career on a meteoric rise at that time. Tom Petty was the legendary frontman of the American rock band “Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers”.
The couple had 2 children together, however, their marriage ended in a divorce in 1996. The union seemed like a fairy tale, however, details that emerged after their divorce showed that the union was a tortured one.
When her marriage to the famous rock legend ended, Jane Benyo went off the media radar. Her name resurfaced in media circles in 2017 following the death of her former husband Tom Petty. Petty died on October 2, 2017, having suffered a full cardiac arrest in the early hours of the day at his home in Malibu. According to the medical examiner, he died of an accidental overdose of various medications.
Jane Benyo Biography
Jane Ann Benyo was born in Gainesville, Florida. While she is known as the first wife of the late rock legend Tom Petty, details about her early life are currently not in the public domain.
Benyo met Petty when she was just a teenager. The two lovebirds had a marriage which lasted over 2 decades and they also had 2 children together. Their marriage appeared glamourous and blissful on the outside. However, it turned out that the marriage was actually volatile, evidenced by the gory details revealed when the marriage ended.
The divorce was tough on both parties. Jane Benyo became obsessive and threatened her estranged husband with suicide calls. Tom Petty on his part was also addicted to alcohol and heroin. However, he went into therapy even before their marriage ended.
Eventually, Petty remarried on June 3, 2001, to his second wife Dana York Epperson whom he had met in 1991 at one of his concerts. The legendary rock musician credits his second wife for helping him overcome his drug addiction. Dana York also helped him rebuild his relationship with his children. Their marriage remained intact until Tom Petty’s death in 2017. The famous rock frontman died at the age of 66.
6 Quick Facts About Tom Petty’s Ex-Wife
1. Meeting Tom Petty
Jane Benyo met Tom Petty when they were both in high school in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida. The high school sweethearts maintained their relationship for a while and eventually, they started living together.
2. Jane Benyo’s Marriage
At the age of 24, the late rock legend Tom Petty tied the knot with his first wife Jane Benyo on March 26, 1974. After their wedding, Benyo moved to Los Angeles with Tom Petty where he pursued his blossoming music career.
The couple had 2 children together, daughters Kimberly Violette (born in 1974) and Adria (born in 1982). Kimberly “AnnaKim” Violette is an artist and a fashion enthusiast. She changed her last name from Petty to Violette just because her favourite colour is ultraviolet. She paid a glowing tribute to her rock star father after his death in October 2017. Adria Petty is an art director and editor. She has worked on the music videos of artists such as Beyoncé, Coldplay, Macy Gray and Regina Spektor.
4. Edge of Seventeen
Jane Benyo is also the inspiration behind Stevie Nicks’ 1982 single Edge of Seventeen. During her marriage to Tom Petty, Benyo had met Nicks and told her that she met Petty at the “age of seventeen”. However, Queen of Rock and Roll mistook it to be “edge of seventeen” and adopted the phrase as a song title.
Despite its fairy tale beginning, the marriage between Tom Petty and his first wife Jane Benyo came to an end after 22 years. The divorce between the two was finalized on September 9, 1996.
6. Jane Benyo’s battle with Depression
The end of their marriage has been attributed to the fact that the late rock legend dedicated too much of his time to his music career. As a result, Benyo found herself in an ocean of loneliness and depression. In his 2015 biography Petty: The Biography, the late rock legend described his former wife as mentally ill. In her mother’s defence, their daughter Adria Petty admits that her mother loved her father deeply, however, she became verbally abusive towards him due to her own insecurities.