Tom Petty Moved to a ‘Rundown Shack’ After His Divorce

In 1996, Tom Petty and his wife Jane Benyo divorced after over 20 years of marriage. The period following the divorce was difficult for Petty, and he moved into a small, rundown home in the Pacific Palisades. Many of his friends were worried about him, but he said he didn’t mind living there at the time. He once spoke about what this was like and how he’d changed since then.

Tom Petty wears a black shirt and black and white striped jacket. He sits on a couch.
Tom Petty | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Tom Petty met his first wife, Jane Benyo, in their hometown

Petty met his first wife, Jane Benyo, in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida. They met when they were teenagers and planned to move to Hollywood together so Petty could pursue music. Before they could do this, though, Benyo insisted that they get married. As Petty’s mother also believed it was the right thing to do, they tied the knot and headed to California.

Tom Petty wraps his arms around his first wife Jane Benyo
Tom Petty and Jane Benyo | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

Once there, they had two daughters, and Petty’s career began taking off. He credited Benyo for holding their family together while he toured.

“There were a lot of years when I just wasn’t really around,” he told Rolling Stone in 1991, per Bustle. “And fortunately Jane was strong enough to basically run the whole show by herself for a long time.”

He moved to a secluded ‘chicken shack’ in the woods

Petty and Benyo divorced in 1996 after 22 years of marriage. Soon after, Petty moved into a home in the Pacific Palisades. 

“I was living in a pretty rundown shack. I didn’t mind it,” he told Rolling Stone in 2006. “It was in a part of the Pacific Palisades, in the woods. And I was living back there and had chickens and all kinds of s***. In some places, you could actually see the daylight coming through the walls of the cabin. But it was my bachelor pad, you know.”

His friends were worried about him. Petty had begun using heroin as a way to cope during the difficult period.

“It’s an ugly f***ing thing,” he told biographer Warren Zanes for the book Petty: The Biography.

He shared that he’s grateful he made it through this period of time.

“I had a big adjustment to make, and maybe they were right to be worried about me,” he said. “I had a lot of free time in that period, and it wasn’t the best period in my life. But I am through that. I came out the good side.”

Tom Petty and his second wife, Dana York, remained together until the end of his life

In 2001, Petty married his second wife, Dana York. He shared that marrying her was a great help to him.

Tom Petty wears sunglasses and a suit and his wife Dana York wears a black dress. They stand in front of a blue background.
Tom Petty and Dana York | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

“I’ve lived life pretty hard, I took an adult portion of life and squeezed it into a very short amount of time when I was younger,” he said. “We lived hard, we didn’t sleep much, we traveled all the time. In this job, you don’t realize that you’re getting older. Then probably around the time I got married again, I said. ‘I am going to try and act my age now.’ I am still coming to terms with it a little bit, but it’s not bad.”

Petty and York remained together until his death in 2017.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357

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