How Tom Petty overcame an abusive childhood, tumultuous divorce, and addiction to find freedom among the wildflowers
After 40 years in the music industry, Tom Petty consistently stayed at the top of the charts.
Breaking through in 1979 with “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee” (his album Damn the Torpedoes peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart), the musical icon — who died Monday evening — reached number one in 2014 with his most recent album Hypnotic Eye.
But while his success never faltered, the “Free Fallin’” singer’s personal life wasn’t quite as smooth sailing. From suffering abuse as a child to going through a difficult divorce and subsequent addiction to heroin, Petty, 66, fought through intense personal troubles to find ultimate happiness with his second wife Dana York.
His difficult childhood
His volatile first marriage
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Before he found fame, Petty married his longtime friend Jane Benyo in 1974. The duo’s 22-year marriage was filled with drama that stemmed from mental illness, drug use and the singer’s booming career.
Five years before they divorced, Petty told Rolling Stone he was still “very much in love” with Benyo.
However, the couple could not work through their issues and split for good in 1996.
His descent into heroin addiction
After Petty and Benyo divorced, the star reconnected with his future wife Dana York, whom he had met years earlier at a concert.
Though the couple fell in love, Petty was struggling with a secret heroin addiction.
His happy family life
After undergoing treatment for addiction, York and Petty wed in 2001. Settling in Malibu, Petty still worked on music but made an effort to focus more time on his family, including his two daughters, Adria and AnnaKim, and stepson Dylan.
Before embarking on his final tour earlier this year with the Heartbreakers, Petty told Rolling Stone it would likely be his last “big” tour.
This article originally appeared in People by Melody Chiu.