How we met: Steve Cradock & Bradley Wiggins
'Steve shoved a guitar in my hands. The next minute, I'm being dragged on to the stage…'
Steve Cradock, 44
After co-founding Britpop band Ocean Colour Scene in 1989, the guitarist (left in picture) enjoyed significant success with the band's second album, 'Moseley Shoals'. He has toured with Paul Weller's band since 1992, and has released two solo albums. He lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham
I was made aware of Bradley about three years ago, before he became "Wiggo", through a mate, Eddie Piller, the managing director of Acid Jazz Records, who'd been singing his praises ever since he met him. Cycling isn't my thing, but I caught up with it like the rest of the country last year, during the Olympics and the Tour de France [when Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour, and then the time trial at London 2012]. I noticed he had the same sideburns I had in 1998.
I was friendly with Scott Mitchell, the Sky [cycling team] photographer, who's done a couple of books now on Bradley, and he kept me in the loop on what Bradley had been up to. And when Paul [Weller] and I were playing a charity gig at the Hammersmith Apollo in London last year, Bradley came to that. We got him on stage for the encore and he played [the Jam's] "That's Entertainment" on my guitar. Though the people there loved Paul like a demi-god, when Wiggo walked on stage I never felt such noise and euphoria from a crowd before; it was incredible. I kept trying to get him to sing, but he wasn't having any of it.
After the gig my wife drove us both back to the hotel and I took him to my bedroom to show him my guitar collection. He asked if he could have one of my guitars, but I told him I used all of them. He replied, "But [the Stone Roses guitarist] John Squire has just given me one; surely you should, too." So I did, of course; a decrepit-looking Danelectro of the sort [Pink Floyd's] Syd Barrett used to use. We spent all night playing loud Northern Soul music together until security came and broke it up at 4am. He played fantastically.
We discuss scooters endlessly, we chat music and clothes, Weller, Small Faces and Mods. Funnily enough, he's more rock'n'roll than I am: I'm far too old now, while he's very outgoing and he's always had a drink inside him, except on the race track.
If the wheels ever burst on his biking, he could definitely join a band: he looks a bit like Paul, he has a sharp dress style and every time I see him he's wearing a different suit; you can see being a Mod is a big thing for him. He's even got a place in his house where he sits and rehearses. He's thinking of coming down to Manchester with us soon and maybe playing "Town Called Malice" with us.
He may have caught some grief for that last race in Florence [when he failed to finish the Road World Championships], but there's nothing wrong with getting a bollocking: that's very Mod. You have to dust yourself down, re-find your focus and start again.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, 33
Wiggins began his professional cycling career on the track, winning his first Olympic gold in the individual pursuit in 2004. After two golds in the individual and team pursuit at the 2008 Olympics, he refocused on road racing, joining Team Sky in 2010, with whom he won the Tour de France last year. He lives with his wife in Eccleston, Lancashire
I'd been aware of Steve for years. I was a huge Ocean Colour Scene fan before the band went mainstream and I remember, as a young lad, seeing him support Paul Weller, too. Until recently he didn't know who I was, but for me he was the best guitarist of his generation, though an unsung hero.
We started messaging on Twitter last year after other people in his circle started whispering about this Mod who cycles. Then Paul [Weller] invited me down to this charity gig at the Hammersmith Apollo in December.
I was backstage during the performance, chatting with [musician] Miles Kane, who had been supporting Weller. And then when their set finished, Paul and Steve came off-stage, and me and Steve caught each other's eye and he recognised me instantly, which is a weird way to meet. It was like we'd known each other all our lives, and we hit it off straight away.
A few minutes later they were ready to go on for an encore. Steve shoved a guitar in my hands and I was like, "Nah, I've not played for a while." The next minute, I'm being dragged on to the stage. Steve tried to get me to sing, but I'm not a great singer, though in the end I put a few vocals in there. It was a huge deal for me; one day I think I might drag him on to a push-bike and see how he does.
Being a Mod for me is like a code for everything I do in life: having style, always being well turned out, keeping in touch with music and having the freedom to not give a damn what people think – and it's the focus of what we talk about.
I have to pinch myself a bit when I hang out with Steve now, as you'd never believe how successful he is by talking to him; recently he was saying what a nervy time it was, as it was his kid's 11-plus exams. This is a man who's on stage with Paul Weller, who's one of the best guitarists of his generation: it would be easy for this guy to be off with the fairies. I think it's family that grounds both of us.
Though Steve is a genius in his own right, he's been happy to support Paul [Weller] and talks about him with such admiration; it's humbling, as many people would say, "I'm sick of this," and that's how bands split.
He keeps it low-key when we're out. Once we were in a hotel bar in London, having some drinks with a few others. There was a jukebox in the corner so I put on some Ocean Colour Scene and we started singing along, and half the bar joined in. He was so embarrassed, he was just saying, "Get it off, man!"
Steve Cradock's new album, 'Travel Wild, Travel Free', is out now (stevecradock.com)
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