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The Band

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.

Nigel Minchin Live 2022

Nigel Minchin (Tom Petty) – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica

Nigel began his musical career in the choir at primary school. After taking up the electric guitar in his teenage years, he played in numerous bands during the 1980s, mainly blues, psychedelic and goth rock as a guitarist and lead or backing singer. After several years hiatus during the 1990s, he was persuaded to join a Neil Young tribute band and played the great man in various venues over a 4-year period. During the 2000s Nigel returned to choir singing and also sang in the chorus of a local opera production, Alban. Nigel’s love of American classic rock meant the untimely death of Tom Petty in October 2017 was the catalyst to listen again to his music and dust off his Rickenbacker guitars. Visit his music website fro more details – Nigel Minchin Music. Favourite Tom Petty song to sing – Room At The Top.

James Byron lead guitar

James Byron (Mike Campbell) – Guitar and Backing Vocals

James’ 25+ years of live and studio experience has included sessions at Island/Universal, BBC Maida Vale live sessions (Radio 2) and major UK and European festivals (Latitude, Lovebox, End of the Road, Dimensions). A first call for a diverse range of artists, James can regularly be found providing guitar on stage and in the studio for highly regarded, Jazz FM playlisted soul/jazz/funk outfit The Fantastics (BBE Records), reformed Bristol post punk legends MXMJOY and former Soul II Soul vocalist S.E.L. Favourite Tom Petty track – ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’.

Philip Raby as Benmont Tench

Philip Raby (Benmont Tench) – Keyboards

After many years moving and storing his late father’s VOX Continental organ, Philip decided to have it restored to full working order. It was a simple matter of taking this iconic piece of the British 60’s music scene to the experts and parting with sack full of cash. Six weeks later in October 2010 Philip became the poorer, but proud and privileged owner of a fully working Vox Continental II organ. The next step proved to be a little harder: Learning how to play it! Philip is self-taught, learning to read music, play scales and chords and then, progressing onto his local live music scene. When there’s room on-stage, the Vox Continental is in the show along with the Hammond, piano, synthesiser and Leslie speaker. Claim to fame? Some years ago, Philip jostled Alan Price at the bar to get served at the Bull at Barnes. Favourite Tom Petty song – Saving Grace.

Edwin Harvey bassist Petty Criminals

Edwin Harvey (Ron Blair/Howie Epstein) – Bass and Backing Vocals

Obsessed by music and sound (particularly bass and 12-string guitars) from an early age, Edwin bought his first bass in his mid-teens. The following decades have seen him playing almost every type of music with various bands, both on the London circuit, and at many festivals. Highlights so far include playing to a packed Royal Albert Hall, and Barbican. Tom Petty’s love of 12-string Rickenbacker guitars meant that his songs always caught Edwin’s ear. Favourite Tom Petty Song – Mary Jane’s Last Dance.

Matt Cowley Drums Petty Criminals

Matt Cowley (Stan Lynch/Steve Ferrone) – Drums

Growing up in Teesside, Matt was raised on a healthy if somewhat diverse diet of Blues, Jazz, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Frank Zappa and Chuck Berry via my Dad’s record collection … That said, it was seeing the marching drummers from a visiting Scottish Pipe band to my hometown of Billingham when he was 3 or 4 years old that got Matt started on the lifelong obsession with all things drums!  A couple of years later, his destiny was to be confirmed when I heard Ginger Baker on a beat up cassette copy of The Best of Cream … His Dad took to me to the local music shop and I left with a pair of cheap warped sticks, a tambourine and a practice pad … the rest as they say, is history! For more info on Matt visit Favourite Tom Petty song – Refugee.

emily cotton live 2022

Emily Cotton (Stevie Nicks/Backing Vocals) – Vocals*

Emily’s musical journey started with the violin at age 6. She played in several Orchestras performing in many well known venues including the Bournemouth International Centre, Poole Lighthouse and The Royal Albert Hall. Emily found her passion for singing while studying at University and after graduating she went on to work as a music assistant in the West End and vocalist on board cruise liners and across the south coast. Notable jobs include: resident singer onboard P&O ferries and Fred Olsen cruise lines. Music assistant for West End Musicals: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gypsy and TINA – The Tina Turner Musical as well as the albums Gypsy: 2015 London Cast Recording and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Original Cast Recording) Emily currently works as a freelance vocalist, singing with multiple function bands and providing backing vocals for various tribute acts. Favourite Tom Petty song – Crawling Back To You.

Sheryl Ryan as Stevie Nicks

Sheryl Ryan (Stevie Nicks/Backing Vocals) – Vocals*

Sheryl began keyboard lessons at the age of 4 after picking out tunes on a friend’s piano. Performing at venues such as the Bet365 Stadium, Royal Albert Hall and London Palladium, she has been lucky enough to support acts such as Edwin Starr, the Drifters, The Commitments and Def Leppard, aswell as singing lead with the English National Symphony Orchestra at classical events throughout the UK. As a backing singer, Sheryl has toured Canada and Europe, with studio sessions including BV’s for Karen Coleman, Danny Smart & Emma Stevens. Having been a massive fan of Stevie Nicks for as long as she can remember, Sheryl therefore loves performing with Petty Criminals! Favourite Tom Petty song- Learning To Fly

* signifies performing at select dates.

© Petty Criminals 2023.