We may have seen the last of Tom Petty but his inspiring works have left an indelible mark in our hearts and in the entertainment industry. Petty was the vibrant and talented singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer and actor who constantly kept his fans mesmerized and wanting more. He was the leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers band which he formed in 1976. After years of serving the public with some good quality music, the band became part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. There is so much to know about the life of the legendary musician during his time on earth. Here are lesser known facts about him.
Tom Petty Biography
He was born Thomas Earl Petty on October 20, 1950, in Gainesville Florida to his parents; Katherine Petty, his mother, and Earl Petty his father. Petty’s inclination towards music and its components started at a very young age. This desire of his continued to burn after he came in contact with iconic singer and actor Elvis Presley. He crossed paths with the musical big shot in 1961 when his uncle worked behind the scene of Elvs’ film. He fell in love with the singer’s style that he didn’t hesitate to trade his toy for a collection of Elvis’ songs.
Petty also dreamt of being part of a band and wanted so much to have one to his name. Tom Petty took the first step towards achieving his dreams when he formed a band – the Epics in 1976. The Epics which was made up of Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and of course Petty, became a sensation in Gainesville even after its name was changed to Mudcrutch. However, the group split and went their separate ways and Petty sought ways to continue. Though it was not easy at first, he went solo and started to perform his own songs.
Another group, the Heartbreakers was formed but Petty was not part of it. The Heartbreakers was made up of Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, and Stan Lynch. The group released several albums and later teamed up with Petty and performed songs in concerts. Tom in 1988 became a member of the Travelling Wilburys formed by George Harrison. The group dished out several albums which did very well commercially.
In all this, Petty wrote his own songs too. In 1989, the singer and songwriter released his debut studio album Full Moon Fever, after collaborations with the Heartbreakers and other notable musicians. The album spawned 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 dished Into the Great Wide Open. The group went on to release several tracks including a soundtrack for the film ‘She’s the One’ which starred Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. The group released their tenth and supposed last album Echo in 1999.
It was definitely not the end for Petty who released a solo album Highway Companion in 2006. The album peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and was a huge commercial success. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came together again towards the end of the first decade in the new millennium and released another album Mojo. Their 13th album Hypnotic Eye came in July 2014. Tom and the Heartbreakers celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2017 the same year that the legendary musician lost his life.
Cause of Death
Tom Petty died on October 2, 2017, after suffering complications of mixed drug toxicity. On that fateful day, the singer was found unconscious in his home. After several attempts were made, he was resuscitated and rushed to the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. Unfortunately, he died at the hospital in the evening of that same day.
In January 2018, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner revealed that he died from mixed drug toxicity. He had taken a combination of opioids and analgesics which he reacted to.
Family – Wife, Daughters
Left to mourn Tom Petty are his children and their mothers. The singer was first married to Jane Benyo in 1974. The marriage which lasted for over twenty years was a model for many couples in the industry at the time until the couple split in 1996. More than twenty years after the divorce, Petty revealed the reason behind the failure of his first marriage to be his struggle with heroin addiction. Petty and Benyo had two daughters together; Adria, who is a director and AnnaKim, an artist.
Tom Petty married again in 2001 to Dana York. He was a step-father to York’s son Dylan, whom she had from her previous marriage.