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Tom Petty Dead at 66: How Legendary Rocker Battled Abuse, Addiction, and Divorce

Tom Petty
(Photo : Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / Facebook)

Spending the last four decades of his life in the music industry, Tom Petty gained considerable fame by releasing unique, chart-topping rock hits, such as “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Refugee” in the late 1970s.

The most recent album by the music icon, “Hypnotic Eye,” soared to the top of the charts in 2014.

However, while Petty’s success was unfailing throughout the years, his personal life was not as smooth as his journey in his music career. The legendary rocker, who died on October 2 due to cardiac arrest, suffered abuse during his childhood. Later on, he went through a troubling divorce and then found himself battling with heroin addiction.

The Gainesville, Florida native previously shared about experiencing abuse during his childhood when he lived with his father. He opened up about the suffering in ”Petty: The Biography,” created by fellow rocker and friend Warren Zanes.

“When my father got home… he beat me so bad that I was covered in raised welts, from my head to my toes,” he shared. “I mean, you can’t imagine someone hitting a child like that. My mother and grandmother laid me in my bed, stripped me and they took cotton and alcohol, cleaning these big welts all over my body.”

Before rising to fame, Petty exchanged wedding vows with Jane Benyo in 1974. Although Benyo was his longtime friend, their 22-year marriage headed for the worst when drug use and mental illness settled in. The situation was further intensified with Petty’s flourishing career.

“I was used to living in hell. My parents’ marriage was hell. I lived through being terribly abused as a kid, and then I found myself in an abusive marriage,” the singer told Zanes, recalling his failed marriage.

After splitting up with Benyo in 1996, Petty was able to reach out to his Dana York, his future wife, with whom he crossed paths at a previous concert. Despite the two falling in love, the “I Won’t Back Down” crooner was still battling his heroin addiction in secret.

“You start losing your soul,” he recalled, while adding: “Using heroin went against my grain. I didn’t want to be enslaved to anything. So I was always trying to figure out how to do less, and then that wouldn’t work. Tried to go cold turkey, and that wouldn’t work.”

Following a treatment program for addiction, Petty tied the knot with York in 2001 and settled in a Malibu residence. Although Petty continued to work on his music, he worked harder to spend more quality time with his family, including his daughters, Adria and AnnaKim, and stepson Dylan.

“The only good thing about getting older is you get smart enough to avoid unnecessary problems,” he told Billboard in 2014. “You know what’s worth spending time on and what’s not.”

Prior to pursuing his final tour this year with his band, the Heartbreakers, Petty admitted to the Rolling Stone that it would probably be his last major tour.

“I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” he said. “We’re all on the backside of our 60s. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”

Tags : tom petty tom petty & the heartbreakers rock music celebrity deaths Petty: The Biography

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