Cut from the baseball team in high school, Brian Craddock begrudgingly accepted that his dream of major league glory was a long shot. Despite the setback, guitar practice soon replaced batting practice and he set his sights on a much more sensible vocation: musician. “If I’d known how much work goes into being a professional musician, I might have looked into med school; the hours would be better,” he says laughing.
Born in Charlottesville, Virginia the guitarist grew up amid the college town’s thriving music scene, best known for producing Dave Matthews. “People identify this town with roots rock because of his success, but there is an eclectic community of musicians living here who introduced me to every style of music.”
Craddock met many of those characters while selling guitars at one of the local music shops. Working there, he picked up licks from guitarists who stopped in to talk gear and jam with whoever was around. “That was my real education; jazzers showing me chromatic runs, country guys showing me chicken picking; something different every day,” he says. “For me, learning a new riff was like discovering another word in a musical language that has allowed me relate to people.”
Eager to learn more, Craddock spent two years studying flamenco guitar, fascinated by the music’s demanding precision and emotional intensity. “There’s a lot going on and you have to pay close attention because it get very tricky,” he says. “As much fun as that was, I had to give it up, because – believe it not – classical guitar recitals are not exactly a great place to meet girls.”
Switching to rock, Craddock found his musical niche but quickly discovered the difficulty in making it a living. “You hustle or fail. I was a graphic designer by day, gave guitar lessons in the afternoon, and then played or produced all night; it’s not glamorous. I missed the first years of my daughter’s life working round the clock, but I kept doing it because it’s what I love.”
In a fateful twist, the music store where Craddock worked growing up is also where he first met Chris Daughtry. “His band used to open up for mine,” Craddock says. “When I heard he was looking for a guitarist, I left him a message. He called me back that night – while I was making a chocolate cake – with a plane ticket to an audition the next day. I learned the entire album on the flight to L.A.”
After a disastrous first audition, Craddock came back the following day and nailed the performance. “People couldn’t believe it was the same guy. It was obviously meant to be,” Daughtry says.