Petty Criminals 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 music. The realisation that he loved to play the songs and that his voice suited the range and qualities of Tom Petty’s, prompted him to look for like-minded musicians to form an authentic and quality tribute band to the late-great Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. After recruiting other members, they started to put together a list of songs to play and played their first gig in the beer garden of The Mermaid pub in St. Albans in September 2018. Since then they have performed at many of the major rock clubs in the UK and graduated to small to medium sized theatres, festivals and even a wedding.
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 they 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. The shows use a bespoke backdrop and stories to put the songs in context.