FROM astronomy to website design, Nigel Minchin has had his fair share of careers and hobbies, and he added Tai Chi to his list over the past few years too.

One of his passions from a young age was music. And now, this talented guitarist and singer is leading a tribute band to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

He said: “I started playing guitar as a teenager and was in a few different bands, but then when I went to university to study astronomy and didn’t play a lot.

“In the late 80s I was in a goth rock band, but then I went on to study my PhD in Observational Astronomy until the end of the 90s when I started a family.

“I joined a Neil Young tribute band in the late 90s too for four years, but then I decided I needed a normal job, so I worked in software for a bit.

“I got back into music five years ago because the children were older. Thirteen years before I started my own web design company, which started to generate enough money for me to live on, so I decided to get back into music – and scratch the itch so to say.

“Tom Petty died, so I started listening to his music again and realised that it suited my voice.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Petty Criminals began in 2018. Although Nigel had been a fan since the late ‘70s, 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, discovered many hidden gems and realised how much he loved the classics so he decided to form a band to pay tribute.

This time last year, Petty Criminals were playing local pubs and now they have a 20-date theatre tour.

Nigel added: “We have gone on a journey and had to build it up, but we are lucky really that we are the only serious Tom Petty tribute in the UK, he is a certain niche over here. We don’t have much competition.

“We took the approach that we wanted to give an authentic impression of the shows, focussing on the same guitars, sound – concentrating on the music more. We also have the stage set up similar to Tom Petty as well.”

Nigel does not wear a blond wig or have a fake American accent and he made the conscious decision not to replicate Tom Petty himself.

One song Nigel used to love was Runnin’ Down a Dream, but since joining the band his favourite song to perform is Room at the Top, a personal song that Tom Petty wrote in the late 90s.

He admitted his least favourite song is Free Fallin’, because the song is basic and there is a high note that Nigel doesn’t like – which he now sings along with the bassist in the band.

However, Nigel knows that everyone loves the song and they always try to make it a sing-a-long at their shows.

“I get very excited by performing or I wouldn’t do it. I get nervous, but a good sort of nerves” explained Nigel.

“I would love to tour in America but they have several really good Tom Petty tributes.

“We want to start planning to play in Australia and we are thinking about a performing on a few dates in Europe.

“There’s nothing like performing live. Musicians rarely perform for the money, they do it for the itch they just have to scratch.”

Somerset County Gazette:

In the show there will be everything from deep cuts to greatest hits.

You will journey through songs such as American Girl, Breakdown and Refugee, through the ‘80s and early ‘90s with classics like Free Fallin’, Runnin’ Down A Dream, I Won’t Back Down and Learning To Fly.

There will also be highlights from the seminal album Wildflowers and various musical outings including collaborations with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and the Traveling Wilburys.

Petty Criminals will be performing at The Playhouse in Weston-Super-Mare on Friday, March 6 at 7:30pm.

Nigel added: “I went to Weston-Super-Mare as a child and I am looking forward to performing there. I have been told it’s a beautiful theatre, it will be a privilege for us. These types of theatres also tend to have really good acoustics too.”

To book visit or call 01934 645544.