Extraordinary Facts from Tom Petty’s Life | Vanity Fair

Breakdown Extraordinary Facts from Tom Petty’s Life From deep friendships to addiction to his causes. by Kenzie Bryant October 3, 2017 9:53 am Email Facebook Twitter
By Michael Kovac/WireImage Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had just wrapped the West Coast leg of their 40th anniversary tour when Petty died on Monday at the age of 66. He was due in New York in November. Though the tour would be his last, as he promised , he spent four decades making music, producing classics like “American Girl,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” and “Free Fallin’,” and having an impact across a broad spectrum of pop culture. Below, some selected and little-known highlights from his extraordinary life.
Remember his famous friendships?
George Harrison of the Beatles was a longtime friend. Harrison passed in 2001, and well over a decade later, Petty told NPR that they were close (though he rarely talked about it because he didn’t want to be seen as boasting about being friends with a Beatle). “I think [spirituality], probably, was the greatest gift he gave me,” Petty said at the time. “He gave me a way of understanding a higher power without it being stupid, or having tons of rules and books to read. But the best thing I can say to people that are curious about that is George was probably everything that you thought he was, and then some more. Very funny man; he could just kill me with his humor. He was a great guy and I miss him terribly.” In 1980, he and Harrison formed the supergroup Traveling Wilburys, along with Bob Dylan , Jeff Lynne , and Roy Orbison.
He also met Stevie Nicks in 1978. They collaborated on several duets through the years, including “Insider” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Nicks told Billboard that she wrote “Edge of Seventeen“ after she misheard Petty’s first wife, Jane Benyo, say, “I met him at some point during the age of 17.”
He made acting cameos
He was regular guest on King of the Hill, voicing the character of Elroy “Lucky” Kleinschmidt over 20 times. And his cameo in Kevin Costner’s The Postman, as a post-apocalyptic mayor, is worth immediate attention .
He very publicly changed his mind about the Confederate flag
Petty grew up in Gainsville, Florida, where the Confederate flag was “wallpaper,” he said. After releasing an album in 1985 called Southern Accents, the band leaned hard into Confederate insignia as marketing material. After South Carolina decided to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds in 2015, Petty told Rolling Stone about his remorse for using it on that tour:
That Southern pride gets transferred from generation to generation. I’m sure that a lot of people that applaud it don’t mean it in a racial way. But again, I have to give them, as I do myself, a “stupid“ mark. If you think a bit longer, there’s bad connotations to this. They might have it at the football game or whatever, but they also have it at Klan rallies. If that’s part of it in any way, it doesn’t belong, in any way, representing the United States of America.
Of Kid Rock’s use of it, he said, “Isn’t Kid Rock from the Midwest? I think they were on the other side of the Civil War.”
He was addicted to heroin
He spoke of a heroin addiction in the 90s in his biography written by friend and former Del Fuegos guitarist Warren Zanes. “You start losing your soul,” he told Zanes. “You realize one day, ‘S—, I’ve lost myself. I’m hanging out with people I wouldn’t be seen with in a million years, and I have to get out of this.’ 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. It’s an ugly f—ing thing.” He eventually went into addiction treatment.
He was a musicians’ rights advocate
Petty declared bankruptcy in 1979, refusing to release Damn the Torpedoes in order to get out of an abusive contract at his record label, MCA. After the label allowed him to resign with a better contract at a subsidiary, he threatened to do it again with Hard Promises when the label wanted to increase the price of the album by a dollar, from $8.98 to $9.98. His was a negotiating tactic that other musicians would copy in the following years.
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Full Screen Photos: 1 / 17 Hollywood Marriages Time Has Forgotten Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis The moment Goldblum saw Davis on the set of their horror film Transylvania 6-500, he was instantly attracted to her. GQ documented their story in a feature at the time, per Jezebel . They married in 1987, and even shared an interior decorator . “They’re delightful!,” gossip columnist Liz Smith noted in 1989. The pair divorced in 1990. During their marriage, they appeared in such films as Earth Girls Are Easy and The Fly. Photo: From The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Dermot Mulroney and Catherine Keener Keener and Mulroney married in 1990, separated in 2005, and divorced in 2007. They share one son, Clyde Keener Mulroney . In a profile for nj.com in 2010, Keener said that she was happy in her personal life. “I’m sitting on a stoop in New York drinking a cup of coffee and the sun is out and it’s warm and it’s all good. What could be better?” Photo: By Ron Galella/WireImage. Brooke Shields and Andre Agassi Agassi and Shields were married for nearly two years, and Shields wrote about the relationship in her memoir There Was a Little Girl. Though there were strained moments, Shields, overall, had positive things to say about her ex. “He is a devoted person, sweet and good but he had this demon, this affliction,” she wrote in her memoir, per People . “But the other side, and what makes this so hard, is the way he welcomed me and my mother and anybody I loved. He is a really good human being.” Photo: By Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic. Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Wilding One of the lower-profile of Taylor’s eight marriages was her second to Wilding, a respected British actor who was 20 years her senior. Taylor and Wilding met while she was in England filming the 1948 movie The Conspirator, and they were married in 1952. They had two sons together, but as her career skyrocketed and his stalled, they grew apart, separating in 1956 and divorcing in 1957. Photo: From Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty Images. Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney Four months after Chesney and Zellweger had a beachside wedding in 2005, the pair had their marriage annulled. In her filing, Zellweger cited “fraud” as the reason for their split, per Us Weekly. This led to rumors that Chesney was gay. Zellweger addressed these rumors in a 2016 interview with The Advocate. “That made me sad,” she recalled. “It made me sad that somehow people were using that as a way to be cruel and calling someone gay as a pejorative, which has fateful consequences.” In a 2007 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, Chesney addressed the rumors about his sexuality. “It's not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, ‘No, I'm not [gay],’ but I didn't want to draw any more attention to it.”
Photo: From MB Pictures/Rex/Shutterstock. Nicholas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley Cage and Presley’s marriage was a short one. They married in an oceanside ceremony in 2002, and Cage filed for divorce three months later. After they couple split, Presley released a statement via her representative and expressed her regret about the union. “I’m sad about this, but we shouldn’t have been married in the first place,” she said. Photo: By Albert L. Ortega/WireImage. Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock The actress and singer were engaged in 2002, then split the next year. The two reconciled and were married in July 2006, only to divorce four months later, in November 2006. Photo: By Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Previous Next Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis The moment Goldblum saw Davis on the set of their horror film Transylvania 6-500, he was instantly attracted to her. GQ documented their story in a feature at the time, per Jezebel . They married in 1987, and even shared an interior decorator . “They’re delightful!,” gossip columnist Liz Smith noted in 1989. The pair divorced in 1990. During their marriage, they appeared in such films as Earth Girls Are Easy and The Fly. From The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Dermot Mulroney and Catherine Keener Keener and Mulroney married in 1990, separated in 2005, and divorced in 2007. They share one son, Clyde Keener Mulroney . In a profile for nj.com in 2010, Keener said that she was happy in her personal life. “I’m sitting on a stoop in New York drinking a cup of coffee and the sun is out and it’s warm and it’s all good. What could be better?” By Ron Galella/WireImage. Brooke Shields and Andre Agassi Agassi and Shields were married for nearly two years, and Shields wrote about the relationship in her memoir There Was a Little Girl. 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That didn't kill me . . .’ I really related to that, being a person who was in a very long-term relationship and was married and then divorced.” By Jim Spellman/WireImage. Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney Four months after Chesney and Zellweger had a beachside wedding in 2005, the pair had their marriage annulled. In her filing, Zellweger cited “fraud” as the reason for their split, per Us Weekly. This led to rumors that Chesney was gay. Zellweger addressed these rumors in a 2016 interview with The Advocate. “That made me sad,” she recalled. “It made me sad that somehow people were using that as a way to be cruel and calling someone gay as a pejorative, which has fateful consequences.” In a 2007 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, Chesney addressed the rumors about his sexuality. “It's not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, ‘No, I'm not [gay],’ but I didn't want to draw any more attention to it.”
From MB Pictures/Rex/Shutterstock. Nicholas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley Cage and Presley’s marriage was a short one. They married in an oceanside ceremony in 2002, and Cage filed for divorce three months later. After they couple split, Presley released a statement via her representative and expressed her regret about the union. “I’m sad about this, but we shouldn’t have been married in the first place,” she said. By Albert L. Ortega/WireImage. Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock The actress and singer were engaged in 2002, then split the next year. The two reconciled and were married in July 2006, only to divorce four months later, in November 2006. By Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Share Email Facebook Twitter

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I just don’t understand the continuum in which this all exists, where we’re supposed to not judge people based on physical differences, but we -do- have to acknowledge the differences exist, even if they’re only differences imposed by medicine/surgery, yet if you ape the characteristics of another social circle, that’s not good.
It’s almost like people want to value abstract ideas more than they value superficiality, but we have to humor the people who actually do value the superficial things like Whether or Not They Look Like Enough Like a Girl, because if we don’t, their personalities are so shallow that we basically invalidate their entire existences. Which, frankly, if we are really going along with it for that reason, is more insulting to them than just out-and-out denying them.

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