Bio

Biography

Michael “Crawdaddy” Crawley was born in Detroit, Michigan, AKA the Motor City. His musical influences stem from his family, especially his father, Frank, and his grandmother.  Frank introduced Crawdaddy to the music of Nat King Cole, The Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots, as well as show tunes like “South Pacific,” “My Fair Lady” and “The Music Man.” Then one fateful day in 1964, he and millions of Americans saw the Beatles perform on the “Ed Sullivan Show” for the first time, which changed his musical life forever. Soon after he and his brother Brian began collecting all of the Beatles’ records they could find.

At the age of eight, Crawdaddy’s grandmother gave him his first harmonica (“Hohner’s Little Lady”), a gift from Hawaii where she once lived. It inspired him to learn his first Beatles song, “Love Me Do”. Later, he started swapping rock records with good friend David Allen, who introduced him to bands like The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and anything Motown. The influences for these 60′s and 70′s rock bands led him to legendary Blues artists such as Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Terry – which continued to expand Crawdaddy’s musical horizons.

In 1972, while in high school, he joined his first band as lead singer with David Allen on guitar and drummer Bill Reyna called Ernie and the Neighborhood Gang. His cousin Kevin told him, “If you’re going to be a lead singer of a rock band you need to blow that harp once in a while.” So he took his advice, practicing constantly until he mastered the harp. Although the band only lasted a year or so it proved a great early experience in his musical growth. That same year Crawdaddy and his friend Randy Nelson hitchhiked to Florida for spring break, taking their harps with them. They spent most of the week trying to figure out how to bend a note, which proved to be one of the hardest harp licks to master. From that point on Crawdaddy would always keep a harp in his pocket.

Between 1974 and 1977 Crawdaddy played in various bands in the Detroit area including “NIJA”, a band started by Terry Lee Bolton. In late 1977 he moved to Baytown, TX and worked on a merchant drill ship drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. One of his shipmates, upon hearing him practicing on his harmonica deep below in one of the catacombs, introduced Crawdaddy to the music of Jimmy Buffett and his harpist, Greg “Fingers” Taylor. Their sound and influence from an eclectic range of styles suited Crawdaddy well. This marked his first encounter with the emerging musical genre of Tropical Rock, or Trop Rock, which would greatly influence his life in later years.

In 1978 Crawdaddy moved back to the Motor City and started the band Money Talks, a blues-influenced rock band covering more harmonica-oriented music, with his old friend David Allen. It was during this period that he started writing his own original music. Money Talks played the bar circuit in the Downriver area of Detroit for several years. After they disbanded, he led the group Mike Crawley and the Wise Guys before packing it up and moving to California in 1981.

Crane Crawley

Crane Crawley

Crawdaddy spent the next 10 years playing in the Santa Barbara music scene (already home to two of the world’s greatest Harp players in Tom Ball and Mitch Kasmar). After a brief sting with Barry Cowsill, of the Cowsills, a 60’s band made up of all family members, Crawdaddy began jamming with various bands until 1983 when he met singer/songwriter guitarist David Crane and Crane/Crawley was formed. They added Rod Rolle (The Emperor of the Bo Diddley beat) on drums and Larry Cappdaville on bass and the rest was Santa Barbara history. They quickly gained fame in the local Santa Barbara music scene, known for their hyper antics on stage. Santa Barbara journalist Eugene Pigeon once wrote: “They are faster then a speeding taxi, more powerful then a triple expresso, able to leap tall barstools in a single bound…well, you get my drift”.

After five years of non-stop performing, the band stopped playing in 1988. Crawdaddy then started The Crawdads with blues guitarist Robert Thomas Bucy, then known as “Texas” Tom Bucy. The Crawdads picked up where Crane/Crawley left off, writing and playing more blues/rock tunes. After performing up and down the central California coast, Crawdaddy moved to Knoxville, TN in 1991.

Macdaddies

Macdaddies

During those first few years in Knoxville he formed a band called Crawdaddy, which eventually morphed into the Macdaddies, playing clubs, parties and events and earning them the Best Blues band honors in 1994.

Crawdaddy’s first introduction to the world of Trop Rock was at Knoxville’s Tropic Festival in 1997, where he appeared with St. Somewhere, A1A and Greg Bridgewater. The next year he travelled to Key West with St. Somewhere for Meeting of the Minds, the official Convention for Parrot Heads in Paradise. Here he discovered Parrot Heads and their love of Trop Rock music. From 1998 to 2001 he joined St. Somewhere on the road, traveling all over the United States.

St. Somewhere

St. Somewhere

Over the years he has appeared in countless Trop Rock festivals and Parrot Head events, many of which are with “his brother from another mother”, a singer/songwriter named Paul Bobal AKA “Tall Paul”. In addition, Crawdaddy is often seen onstage jamming with a wide variety of performers. Some notable Trop Rock musicians he has collaborated with include Will Kimbrough, Tropical Soul, James “Sunny Jim” White and John Frinzi.

Thirty years after picking up his first harp, Crawdaddy continues the musical journey his grandmother began. Over the years Crawdaddy has befriended some of Jimmy Buffett’s bandmates – the Coral Reefers, and he has performed with a variety of musicians like Fingers Taylor, Magic Dick of The Geils Band, Mitch Kashmar of the band War and Mark Hummel, and has opened up for well-respected artists such as BB King, Johnny Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Blackfoot, Delbert McClinton, The Sauce Boss, Marshall Tucker, Mac MacAnally and Nadirah Shakoor.

These days Crawdaddy performs in a wide range of musical outfits, spanning many musical genres: a blues duo called the Detroit Daddies; the Trop Rock duo with Tall Paul (affectionately known as “TallDaddy”); a seven-piece blues band called “Jenna and Her Cool Friends” (who represented Knoxville at the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis); a local Jug band called Y’uns; and a rock outfit called Crawdaddy the Band.