Original photographs by permission of Paul Bednall Photography
Knebworth, June 1978
The inspiration for Petty Theft and the Heartshakers can be traced back to midsummer's night 1978, when an unknown, slightly geeky looking guy with long blonde hair and a top hat walked onto the stage at Knebworth armed with nothing but a stratocaster, a band and an overload of attitude … ‘now THAT’s what a rock star looks like’ we thought as he proceeded to blow us all away … and when two of us, still teenagers, started our first band together the following summer some of the first songs we played were songs that the Heartbreakers had performed on that day; Listen To Her Heart, Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Breakdown.
Our musical paths have diverged and converged many times since then, but those songs have remained constant. The last time any of us saw him on stage was another midsummer night, 39 years later at Hyde Park in London. And when news of his death reached us just a few weeks later we were stunned and saddened.
It happened that some of us from the old band were planning a one off performance shortly after that and we decided to use the opportunity to put together a set of Tom Petty songs as a tribute and memorial of his music. The reception was amazing and we decided right then that we had to do it again.
A lot of hard work has gone in since – re-learning those old songs and learning new ones, and finding the right people to complete the line-up, musicians who can not only play and sound like the Heartbreakers but who also ‘get’ what Tom Petty and his band were all about. It’s taken a while, but we weren’t prepared to compromise.