Tom Petty dead: How the singer inspired Stevie Nicks song ‘Edge of Seventeen’ | The Independent

The Independent
Jacob Stolworthy

The track’s title came from a conversation the Fleetwood Mac star had wife Petty’s first wife in 1979

Music legend Tom Petty, who has died at the age of 66, spent his illustrious career collaborating with many other musicians ranging from ELO’s Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and, of course, Stevie Nicks.

Interestingly, the singer served as the inspiration for one of the Fleetwood Mac singer’s most famous solo tracks in a rather circuitous way.

“Edge of Seventeen,” released in 1982, was the third single taken from her debut record Bella Donna and while Petty may not have featured on the track, he and first wife Jane Benyo served as inspiration for its title – all thanks to a simple case of miscommunication.

After meeting Benyo, Nicks asked her when she’d met Petty to which Benyo replied “at the age of seventeen,” a comment Nicks misheard as “the edge of seventeen.” According to the singer, she originally planned to write the song about the couple – and was even willing to give Benyo credit for the inspiration – but, the death of her beloved uncle and John Lennon in the same week (December 1980) saw her find new inspiration for the song. The title, however, remained.

Petty married Benyo in 1974 when he was 24. The couple met in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida before moving to LA in an attempt to further his music career. Two years later, Petty would release his debut record – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – which featured the songs “Breakdown” and “American Girl.”