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Musician, homicide victim described as dedicated to daughter, rockabilly genre

Patrick George

In each performance, Charles "Chadd" Thomas II brought the same energy and passion that he admired in his idols Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lewis.

The 38-year-old lead singer and guitarist of the rockabilly band Chadd Thomas and the Crazy Kings was also a dedicated father to his daughter, Madison Rose, who turns 7 next month, said Thomas' ex-wife, Lauren Chamberlain.

Chamberlain said she held off telling Madison until Wednesday evening about her father's death, which police have ruled a homicide.

"Madison was definitely the apple of his eye," Chamberlain said. "Whoever did this definitely robbed him of time with her, and that's the saddest part of all."

On Monday, Thomas' body was found near the sidewalk on South Congress Avenue near Oltorf Street, police said. Thomas had appeared to have been killed by blunt-force trauma, police said, but few details have been released as to what led to the injuries. His death is under investigation.

Chamberlain said she believes Thomas might have been involved in altercations Sunday that resulted in head injuries. His body was found Monday morning, when police were called about 7:45 a.m.

Chamberlain and others said Thomas was so enamored of the 1950s that the era's style dominated his home décor and look.

"He loved the solidarity and purity of that era," said Kasey Kietlinski, 31, who met Thomas at a South Congress club more than 10 years ago. "He was trying to give rebirth to an era lost to a lot of the youth."

Kietlinski said Thomas played with another rockabilly band in Houston before he moved to Austin more than 10 years ago. The two met at Trophy's Bar & Grill on South Congress, where Kietlinski was drawn by Thomas' energetic performance and vintage look, complete with pompadour.

In his day job, Thomas worked at the Guitar Center in Northcross Mall, where he shared his love of the instrument with customers, Kietlinski said.

Thomas had a "pretty good following," and over time he began playing at other clubs in the South Congress area, including the Continental Club. Thomas eventually played at Kietlinski's wedding, bringing all the energy of a club show.

"He could pick up a mike in a dead room and make everybody feel better," Kietlinski said.

Dylan Cavaliere, the bass player for the Crazy Kings, said he is working to set up a trust fund for donations to go to Thomas' daughter. A memorial was set for Wednesday evening at the Aviary on South Lamar Boulevard.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

cgrisales@statesman.com; 912-5933

pgeorge@statesman.com; 445-3548