The band was formed in early 2018 by Nigel Minchin. Although he has been a fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers since the late 1970s, when he first heard Refugee, he had lost track of what Tom Petty had been doing in recent years as he got little media exposure in the UK and rarely toured Europe. After Tom Petty died Nigel revisited his back catalogue and discovered many hidden gems and also realised how much he loved the classics. Initially rehearsing with Marcin Bochinski on bass and and Mark Gustafson on guitar, they started to put together a list of songs they liked to play and eventually recruited Andrew Zsigmond (after Nigel met him in a guitar shop and they bonded over favourite guitars and the benefits of D’Addario strings) on guitar and Pete ‘Peroni’ Wright on Drums. Since then Steve Keen and Philip Raby have completed the lineup.
Petty Criminals try to be as authentic as possible to the sound and approach of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, including playing Rickenbacker guitars, dressing similarly and wearing Ray Ban sunglasses! Whilst we recreate the sound as closely as possible, Nigel has made the conscious decision not to pretend to be Tom Petty himself, with a blond wig and a fake American accent. Our shows increasingly utilise multimedia and stories to put the songs in context and where possible let the great man explain things himself.