Comprised of John Knowles, Tony Radford, Levell Price, and Nelson Blanton, this band formed in 1996. Each of the members came to Los Angeles in the '80s independently from a different part of the United States. And each came with a variety of musical experiences under his belt. Still, the one thing they did have in common was a love of traditional country music à la Buck, Ray Price and Johnny Cash, and a desire to make and perform music. This was the key that would eventually unite them and create one of L.A.'s most outstanding country & western bands to ever join forces.
Knowles, the classically trained lead singer of the Crawdads, was born and raised in New Mexico, while drummer Radford hails from Oklahoma; vocalist and bassist Price came west from Mississippi, and lead guitarist Blanton, whose fire power has him hot on the heals of Pete Anderson, grew up in the Northeast. Originally, each had wanted to make a name for himself in rock music. Initially the heavy metal glamour of the once-enticing Sunset Strip drew them all to L.A. But, it was the traditional C&W sounds each had grown up with that eventually tapped into the true talent of these four high-caliber musicians. The fact that each found the mid-'80s success of Dwight Yoakam a more crucial milestone in their musical development than what was being manufactured in the rock world, also contributed to the creation of the band.
Working within the Los Angeles music scene, the four became friends. Crossing paths with Blanton on more than one occasion, Knowles, Price, and Radford were pleasantly surprised when they decided to put their honky tonk dreams to work in 1996. They advertised for a lead guitar player; Nelson Blanton responded. The four immediately knew they had something very special between them and Billy Tulsa & the Psycho Crawdads was born.
By the end of 1996, they had formed a solid unit and produced an impressive cassette, Live from Eddie's Garage, which they had pulled together themselves in order to get their name out before country and roots music audiences. Playing around town, they found a following who, to their delight, began comparing them to Yoakam.
Working towards professionalism, they made a demo CD with L.A. player-songwriter Larry Dean behind the boards. Mixed by Dusty Wakeman at his Mad Dog Studios in Burbank, CA, the Crawdads found Wakeman to be both professional and easy to work with. When the demo went nowhere and a new indie start-up label offered them a deal for their first CD, they wanted Wakeman to produce it. In the fall of 1997, the Crawdads joined Wakeman at his studio and together they created a brilliant CD called Tennessee Rain. With fiddle supplied by one-time Haggard acolyte Scott Joss, also known for his years behind Yoakam, as well as a growing solo career, the well-respected Skip Edwards on keyboards, and one-time Buck Owens steel player Tom Brumley, Wakeman allowed the Crawdads to come into their own. Retaining all the sharp edges and hardcore honky tonk sounds that made Bakersfield the Mecca of the West coast country & western music world, Wakeman and the Crawdads still managed to create a project that would pique the interest of the more pop-oriented country radio world. Tennessee Rain would be released in 1999.
Billy Tulsa & the Psycho Crawdads are one of the most united bands to surface within country music in some time. All of their songs are written by all of the members of the band, and each realizes that one is no more significant than the other three. Vowing to remain true to their early vision and to each other, Billy Tulsa & the Psycho Crawdads seem poised for lasting success. ~ Jana Pendragon, Rovi