I had been hearing stories about this great new Rockabilly band out of Houston in the mid 90’s. I was playing upright bass in my own new act out of Austin when I heard Chadd would be bringing The Crazy Kings to Austin’s Black Cat Lounge for a show. I thought I would go hear what all the buzz was about. As I walked up to the doors I could feel a rumbling permeating out onto the street from the inside. I remember Brent the door guy looking up at me and enthusiastically letting me know, “These guys are good!” I walked in and saw Chadd working the microphone, clapping and dancing, and all the while conjuring up old rock and roll spirits. I knew he would be the man to talk to. I didn’t know much about the business side of music, and getting my band booked outside of Austin was a dream at this point. After the show I approached Chadd in the back courtyard area of The Black Cat and giddily told him how my band should come play a show with him in Houston. I got Chadd’s number right before he disappeared into the crowd chasing a very cute girl. Mission accomplished. We’d get to Houston, play a show with Chadd, and we’d all become the stars we were meant to be. I gave the number to my old singer to make the arrangements for our next step into Rock and Roll history. A few days later I asked my singer what the outcome was and when would we be heading to Houston. “Yeah, I called the number you gave me, it was for a laundromat!” ‘That @#!$” For the children reading, what I said was “That scoundrel!”
About a year later, I wound up taking a two and a half year vacation in California. I see a Crazy King CD at a local music store in San Jose. These guys must be doing good! When I get back to Texas, I put an ad out in the local Austin paper looking for work. When my phone rings, I find myself employed by the newly relocated Chadd Thomas for the next decade as a Crazy King. In the first few months of playing together I bring up the laundromat incident expecting confusion or an apology. What I got was that mischievous grin, “I did do that didn’t I?” He chuckled like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. What an %$$*#&%*.
Over the years, Chadd and I had a couple thousand adventures together, and I probably lost more than a couple of girlfriends while being employed by him. Everything happened from Chadd getting me stuck in Mexico for eight hours, stealing electricity from a neighboring business so we could get a club running for our show, getting tattoos in San Angelo (Mine is Crazy King in Chinese, I will forever be marked), and to those late night calls I now wish I had answered more of.
But no adventure was as big for him as becoming a father. The only time I ever saw Chadd even mention pulling out of a show was when he told us he would need to do so in the event of his daughter being born. Over almost the last seven years, I cannot tell you how many times my phone has lit up with a picture of Madison Rose Thomas. She is Chadd’s pride and joy. If you have ever seen them smile at each other you would know how strong that daddy-daughter bond was.
Now Chadd is gone and I look at all of the pictures of the two of them together: Dressed as Batman and Batgirl, Chadd holding a newborn Maddie all pride and glow, Maddie sitting in her Dad’s lap knowing she was safe from every thing that might be outside that door waiting for her.
You always hear stories of communities coming together in tragedy. I had never fully seen it until I lost my brother. Through years working at a music store, playing a thousand or two shows, or just easily making friends wherever he went, Chadd touched many lives. Everyone of those people he crossed paths with felt the hole that immediately opened up when his life was taken. The thing that kept me moving this last month has been the love people have thrown towards me, The Kings, and the Thomas family. We truly appreciate it.
Then there were the shows. The many, many, many shows we played together. We did not always have the best show, but when we were on, we were pretty damn good. Just ask around. Chadd was all about the show at the end of the day.
Our last show together was at the Aviary in South Austin. Aviary is a small, very classy room where they sell very nice beers and other assorted spirits and art. I was not using an amp that night and thought I would take it easy and sit on a high bar stool. I thought this was going to be a laid back evening. Chadd saw me dragging a chair and immediately told me we should not be taking this easy. “Come on Baby. Let’s give these people a show!” And we did. I will always remember Chadd wanting us to be at our best.
No man can be a true saint. But for every dirty joke he told, for every wild night we would have at our shows, and for every devil’s smile he gave, I want people to remember this the most about Chadd: He loved his daughter and family more than anything. Our Mayor thought enough of Chadd to honor us and name a day after him and his band. And who are we to question our mayor?
Chadd had a much bigger sensitivity about him than all of his jokes and pranks would have led most to believe. He really did have a lot of love in his heart. I have never had anything closer to a big brother than him. It was more than sharing a stage and “melting faces”, I would jokingly say referring to the act playing for people, I am going to miss having my big brother to talk to and look out for me. Miss you brother.
by: Dylan Cavaliere