Bio

Chad grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas where he was raised by his Grandparents Johnny and Louella Crochet. Johnny was a very musical person playing both the drums and the fiddle. Eventually Johnny was inducted to the Cajun Music Hall of Fame as a Steel Guitar player. Chad's Great Uncle Cleveland Crochet (also a member of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame) is noted for being the first Cajun Artist to make the Billboard Charts in 1961 with the Cajun Hit "Sugar Bee". It is a mainstay song among Cajun band's set lists to this day. Needless to say, with this family background, Chad grew up in a very musical environment. At the young age of 4 years old Chad was starting to take lessons from his Grandfather. He started with guitar, then fiddle, accordion, steel guitar, and Dobro, before finally sticking with drums. Chad says, "The drums just came natural to me". His Grandfather Johnny's teaching could only take him so far. Johnny decided to take Chad to their local music store to take lessons from a professional drum instructor. After an hour long lesson the teacher couldn't believe the 4 year old had such solid timing. After all, timing is one of the hardest skills for a drummer to master. "I remember my teacher getting down on one knee and grabbing me by my shoulders and saying, 'Chad, what you're doing right now is the most important thing in drumming.' I remember him telling my Grandpa after the lesson that '[he] just couldn't get over a 4 year old playing dead on with a metronome at all tempos.'. My grandfather politely smiled and said 'Yes, I know.'"

A few years passed, and a 9 year old Chad started playing the local VFW halls in his Grandfather's band. At the age of 13 a new club had opened up in town and the band was trying out drummers. Chad wasn't even old enough to be in the club, but just for fun the band let him get up and play a few songs. They were impressed with his timing and decided to hire him instead of choosing any of the adult drummers who auditioned. Chad was the house drummer there till he turned 18. By this time Chad had formed his own 3 piece band with some friends from school. Chad's choir teacher Gary Goss used Chad's band for many of the school's theatric productions. One day Chad was sitting in computer class when Gary walked in and pulled him out of class to ask him if he wanted to play with Johnny Rodriguez. Gary happened to be the band leader to the country music legend for many years. Chad jumped at the opportunity! Gary gave Chad a cassette tape of their live show and told him learn it verbatim.

Chad only played one show with them but by the end of the show the band had given Chad the nickname "No Budge" because where the songs tempo started is where it ended. Seeing Chad's success blossoming, Gary urged Chad to move to Nashville. It seemed like a logical step at that point in time, except Chad was more worried about his basketball career and was pursuing a scholarship to play at Saginaw Valley State University. Gary smirked and said, "Well when that doesn't work out call me." Turns out basketball didn't work out for Chad as he had planned. Chad moved back home to Nacogdoches. The day he moved back, there was a concert for an established artist named Trent Willmon. All of Chad's friends invited him to go since they hadn't seen him in so long. Chad went and watched the concert and afterwards was asked if he wanted to meet Trent. Chad took a picture with him, and being close to the last fan in line, Trent had time to talk him for a bit. The conversation soon went to music and Trent found out that Chad had played drums for some artists in the past. Chad then told him that he had been thinking about moving to Nashville. Trent being the nice guy that he is gave Chad his personal phone number. Chad couldn't believe it. No one had ever done that before! Chad had met everyone from Gary Allan to Trace Adkins in that same club and talked of his aspirations, and for the most part they kind of patted him on the head and said good luck. Chad decided it was time. He saved money by working three jobs and moved to Nashville. 

His first call was to Trent. Trent introduced Chad to a few people he knew. Along with those contacts, his teacher Gary had given him some names to contact as well. Chad felt he was on his way to getting a drumming gig somewhere. Chad had been warned by many that it was hard to get your foot in the door in Nashville and that the talent level was very high. Knowing this, Chad did the smart thing and got a job selling computers at Best Buy. But Miss Fortune had her eye on Chad and within a week of working there Chad had to put in his 2 weeks' notice. He had gotten a call to go on the road with a singer named Marci Mitchell. Chad played for Marci for a long time. One of the places he played during that time was in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at The Outlaw Saloon. It was at this club that Chad was playing his last gig with Marci in preparation to start with another band. Marci made a big going away party out of it. It was at the end of the night that the club's sound man Ken walked up to him and said, "Man, I know you're just the drummer, but I'm going to miss having you here. I also don't know what I am going to do with that table of women that always comes in here." Chad didn't know what he meant by that. Ken went on to say, "Well, you know that group of women that always comes in and gets the big table to the left of the stage? Well they're not here to see Marci." This is when Chad first thought his idea of being a lead singing drummer just might work. Chad said, "I thought to myself, I only sang 4 or 5 songs a night with Marci and all those people showed up, and stayed the whole 4 hours for that? Maybe there is something to this."

A few more years went by as Chad played for other artists, until one day Chad was sitting in his camper and was bored. He had a copy of Drum Magazine and came across and article that read "LEAD SINGING DRUMMERS?" The article was about drummer named Fred LeBlanc, the lead singer for Cowboy Mouth. The article sparked Chad's interest. Chad found Fred's website and emailed him. To Chad's surprise Fred emailed back after his gig that night and told Chad to come to Cowboy Mouth's show in Clarksville, Tennessee. Chad went to that show with pen and paper in hand. He had never seen such control of the crowd or so much fun being had on a stage. They met afterwards and Fred talked to Chad for a while. Once Fred learned of Chad's intentions to also become a lead-singing drummer Fred gently and jokingly grabbed Chad by the neck and said "If you get huge stealing my show you good looking bastard I'm going to assassinate your ass!" This was of course followed by a laugh. Fred was very supportive of Chad's plans and went on to say "Nashville doesn't like anything different...but you know what, "F them." Chad then decided that this was his path. Chad quickly started looking for a band and booking agents but neither would work for him. The agents said no band no dates. The musicians would say no dates, no work. So finally Chad had started telling agents he had a band, and they were really tight! He put the word out to potential musicians that he had a ton of gigs. Soon enough Chad was playing his shows on the road. The very first gig Chad played was at The Stage in Nashville, which ended up being a very loose show. Chad's first road gig was at a place called Kerrigan's in Lyons, Georgia. This particular club had a drum shield built into the stage and the club owner did not like Chad's drums being out front. He ended up firing Chad.

This was Chad's second sign of adversity and for the first time, he had thoughts of failure go through his mind. "Maybe this won't work." Chad said to himself...But the agent took another chance on Chad. The next club Chad played loved him and his band. Finally things started going better. It has now been a year and a half since those first three shows and Chad has now played over 400 shows. He is still finding that clubs are either open minded and love him or want him to "quiet down the drums" and don't quite get it. He has also learned that in Nashville a lot of people are not sure about what he's doing. But Chad is more confident than ever. With a little help from close friends and fans Chad is still pushing to be the first lead singing drummer in country music. There are still clubs, agents and certain showcases that won't deal with Chad simply because he is a lead singing drummer. No stage is set up for him; no TV show has "enough time" for him to set up his drums-- even though it doesn't take him longer to set up than it takes any other band. Some sound guys will claim they can't mix the drums and the cymbals with his vocals, even though other sound guys have no problems. Chad has never once ran into a patron of the venues he has played that doesn't love what he does, and that's all that matters to Chad. Chad is on the road somewhere playing his shows right now, working hard to get to that next level, laughing at the faces of his adversity with hopes that his talent will shine through.

Just A little Guy

14 Years Old

Gary Goss

Trent Willmon