Jane Benyo is an American celebrity, best known as the first wife of the late Tom Petty, who was a legendary singer-songwriter and the lead vocalist of the famous rock band ‘Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.’ Tom had met her in high school when they both were just teenagers. They had quickly fallen in love. After living together for several years, the couple finally got married on March 26, 1974. At that time, Petty’s music career was blossoming. He moved to Los Angeles with his wife. When her husband was climbing the ladder of success in the music industry, Benyo performed the role of a supporting wife and homemaker. She was Stevie Nicks’s inspiration for the famous song ‘Edge of Seventeen.’ She preferred to keep her life before marriage away from the media and never disclosed much about herself. The duo had two daughters. Sadly, their marriage of more than 2 decades came to an end in 1996, when the couple finalized their divorce. It is believed Petty’s ignorance toward her had made her fall into the web of addiction and mental illness. She never remarried after her divorce and went off the radar. However, she re-emerged when Petty died in 2017.
Marriage with Tom Petty
Jane Benyo came under the spotlight due to her marriage with legendary rock star Tom Petty. She had met Petty at ‘Gainesville High School,’ when she was just 17 years old. The couple started dating and quickly fell in love. Shortly after, the couple started living together. Petty dropped out of high school in order to pursue his music career. She was with him in his early days of struggle. When his music career blossomed, he decided to move to Hollywood along with his band members.
Unable to leave Benyo alone in Florida, Petty decided to get married to her and take her along with him. At that time, Petty was not ready for marriage, but after his mother’s encouragement and Benyo’s insistence, he complied. Back then, Benyo was already a mother of their elder daughter, Adria. The couple got married on March 26, 1974, in front of their families and friends, before moving to Los Angeles together. Petty’s music career bloomed in Los Angeles. They had their second daughter, Annakim, in 1982.
While Petty was getting busy with work, Benyo became a homemaker and a supporting wife. She accompanied her husband to major events and promoted him whenever she got a chance to talk to the media. What looked like a fairytale wedding on the outside turned out to be a nightmare in reality. As Petty was getting more and more busy with his projects, Benyo started slipping into loneliness and depression, which eventually led to mental illness. Moreover, their problems increased due to their drug issues. Benyo gradually became obsessive due to her insecurities and started abusing her daughters and husband. Benyo even threatened Petty with suicide calls. This jeopardized their marriage, and the couple finalized their divorce on September 9, 1996. After the divorce, Benyo never remarried and disappeared from the media, in order to focus on her daughters. Her elder daughter, Adria, who was born in 1974, is an art director and editor. Her younger daughter, AnnaKim, is a designer. In an interview about Petty’s biography, Adria confessed that Benyo’s insecurities had contributed to her addiction and her abusive behavior. Petty’s untimely demise in October 2017 made Benyo re-emerge into the limelight. However, she did not release any statement about his death or about their life. It is believed that she will receive a portion of Petty’s fortune, which was estimated to be $75 million.
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Inspiration for Stevie Nicks
Benyo served as an inspiration for Stevie Nicks’s blockbuster track ‘Edge of Seventeen.’ Benyo had met Nicks through Petty. After Benyo was introduced as Petty’s girlfriend, Nicks asked her when she had met Petty, to which Benyo replied, “I met him at some point during the age of seventeen.” Due to her strong Southern accent, Nicks misheard it as “the edge of seventeen” and thought it would be a perfect title for a song. The song later earned Nicks a ‘Grammy Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Female Rock Vocalist.’ Childhood & Early Life
Jane Benyo was born in 1951, in Gainsville, Florida, US. She attended ‘Gainesville High School,’ where she met Tom Petty. Not much is known about her parents, her siblings, her profession, or her life before she met Petty.