Tarantula was a California-based quintet with a strong psychedelic bent, co-founded by bassist/singer Oz Bach of Spanky & Our Gang with Thad Maxwell (lead guitar, vocals), Tom Grasso (keyboards, vocals), Mike Edelman (electric flute, sax, vocals), and Steve Swirn (drums). They were heavily influenced by the early work of Frank Zappa and had a jazzy feel to their playing as well, and also found room for folk-rock elements in their sound. Tarantula cut one self-titled album, produced by Chad Stuart of Chad & Jeremy, for A&M in 1968 and issued a single, "Love Is for Peace" b/w "Billy the Birdman," the following year. Their psychedelic songs showed superior musicianship, especially Maxwell's fuzztone guitar and Grasso's heavy organ playing, and Edelman may have been one of a handful of rock musicians outside of the Blues Project's Andy Kulberg to use an amplified flute.
Their spaced-out lyrics and odd song titles helped add to the mix, but they never got a foothold on success and disbanded at the end of the 1960s. Oz Bach went on to play with several more groups, not all of which recorded, but Thad Maxwell became the most active and visible ex-member of Tarantula. In 1969, he joined his ex-One Man's Family bandmate John Beland as bassist (succeeding Eric White) in the sadly underrated country-rock band Swampwater. He played with Arlo Guthrie on Hobo's Lullaby, Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys, and Amigo albums, and with his former Swampwater bandmate Gib Guilbeau, was a member of the late-'70s country-rock band Sierra. It was through his connection to Swampwater and Guilbeau that he also turned up on the Gram Parsons/Clarence White tribute album Wheels.