Born in Greater London in 1947, Brian is best known for his work as the guitarist of Queen alongside front man Freddie Mercury. May’s sound is extremely distinct due to his unique ‘Red Special’ guitar, one he built himself alongside his father when he was a teenager, and his ‘layered’ guitar solos, whereby he would record a solo line and then record at least one other harmony line over the top, giving the impression of an orchestra of guitars.
Brian’s solo sound is one with very little ‘high end’ or ‘treble’, which one can imitate by turning down the ‘tone’ knobs on the guitar, giving a very thick, full timbre.
His most famous work is on the track Bohemian Rhapsody, which is a six minute suite, and rare for a pop song in that it does not have a chorus. It consists of a ballad part, an operatic part and a hard rock part followed by one of May’s trademark long solos. The song is featured in the cult classic film ‘Wayne’s World’.
May has also completed a PhD in astrophysics at the acclaimed Imperial College London, after having taken a 30 year hiatus to concentrate on Queen and his solo projects.
Queen is unique in that all members not only write their songs, but have also each had a number one hit in the UK, Brian’s contribution to this was the legendary ‘We Will Rock You’:
Coming in at 26th on Rolling Stones list of ‘100 greatest guitarists of all time‘, May has secured his status as ‘legendary’ as in 2001 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However perhaps even more notably, he was selected to play the God Save the Queen on the roof of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s silver jubilee: