Tom Petty burst onto the Los Angeles music scene in 1976 as the dynamic frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a rowdy group of Gainesville, Fla. musicians determined to stick to their rock ‘n’ roll roots with “the kind of rock that used to be”. come from AM radio.”
The band’s eponymous 1976 debut was initially ignored in the US, but their guitar-driven anthems of love, hope and rebellion quickly found traction in the UK. It wasn’t long before Petty and the gang were headlining shows across the pond, and with two of their singles charting in the UK Top 40, their record label took notice. The label re-released “Breakdown” in the US in 1977 (after it flopped the previous year), and in 1978 the song became the group’s first Top 40 hit.
Petty and the band became mainstays of rock radio in the ’80s, but after embarking on a solo career, Petty quickly established himself as a rock star in his own right. By any measure, Petty’s first solo album, Full Moon Fever, was a success, spawning several hit singles and selling more than 5 million copies. Writing radio-friendly songs had become Petty’s bread and butter, although he didn’t like all of them. Chart-topping classics like “Free Fallin'” and “I Won’t Back Down” made him a wealthy man. However, Petty tragically died of an accidental opioid overdose in October 2017 at the age of 66. He is survived by his wife of 16 and two adult children from a previous marriage, all vying for a portion of his $95 million estate. So what happened to his money? Let us give you the “breakdown”.
Tom Petty’s family ended up in court over his estate
Tom Petty married Dana York Petty in 2001 after years of dating, and according to Rolling Stone, she became the senior trustee of his trust after his death. However, the late rocker’s two daughters, Adria Petty and Annakim Violette – who he shared with first wife Jane Benyo – weren’t happy about it. According to the late singer’s daughters, the terms of the trust entitle them to “equal participation” in decisions about how their father’s catalog is exploited. Adria and Violette interpreted the term “equal participation” to mean that they each received a vote, along with Dana, as they were “significant decisions” regarding the rocker’s fortune. Dana didn’t agree, and as People reported, the singer’s daughters filed a $5 million lawsuit against their father’s widow in 2019, seeking equal control over his estate.
“Tom Petty wanted his music and legacy to be controlled equally by his daughters Adria and Annakim and his wife Dana. Dana has denied Tom’s express request and instead insisted on using Tom’s life’s work for her own selfish interests,” Alex Weingarten, an attorney for Petty’s daughters, said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
Dana’s attorney, Adam Streisand, responded in a statement of his own to Variety, saying, “Unfortunately, this misguided and baseless lawsuit demonstrates exactly why Tom Petty has appointed his wife as sole trustee with the power to administer his estate. Dana will not allow destructive nonsense like this to distract her from protecting her husband’s legacy.”
The legal battle over Tom Petty’s estate came to an amicable end
Surprisingly, their bitter legal battle was short-lived. Less than a year after the lawsuit was filed, Rolling Stone reported that Tom Petty’s two daughters and his widow had reached a “settlement agreement” regarding their rights to his back catalog and estate and “settled their differences and dismissed all litigation.” An official statement continued, “They each sincerely regret that in their deep sorrow at Tom’s tragic death, actions have been taken that hurt one another.”
Petty’s daughters appear to have emerged victorious from the whole fiasco, and according to Rock Cellar Magazine, Dana Petty, Annakim Violette, and Adria Petty have joined forces to form Tom Petty Legacy, LLC, which will manage all aspects of Tom Petty’s legacy. Each of the three family members now sits “equally” in relation to the late singer’s estate and the rights to his back catalogue, with a common goal to “honor Tom’s voice, music, integrity and charitable spirit,” and they are ready to “help.” collaborate on all future endeavors,” which could include sharing unreleased tracks from the singer’s prolific last decade.