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Sir Brian May / Brian Harold May

Sir Brian Harold May was born on the 19th of July 1947 in Hampton, Middlesex, in the UK. Brian attended primary school in Feltham during which time he showed an interest in music and his parents registered him for piano lessons, which Brian actually hated. When Brian was six years old he started learning to play the ukulele. He got very good very quickly and soon he wanted a guitar. A Spanish guitar was given to him as a birthday present, but it was too big for him, so he went and modified it. With his newly built guitar, Brian was listening to and accompanying records that he played. He quickly moved from playing chords to more advanced details.

As time went on and as he played the existing guitar he discovered, that his guitar wasn’t good enough to play music he liked. He didn’t have much money and the type of guitars he wanted was too expensive. Brian and his father decided to build a guitar to fit Brian’s needs exactly. This was to become the famous “Red Special” (or fireplace guitar). The guitar took about 18 months to build and cost roughly 18 pounds at the time. Brian’s friends and schoolmates loved the guitar and offered to buy the guitar from him. As he used the new guitar, standard plectrums were letting him down and he tried to find a form of plectrum/pick that would be the best for the sound he exactly wanted to hear. Brian found the only one pick, which could do that; an ordinary English sixpence.

Brian May on Guitar with Queen

Brian May on Guitar
Brian’s guitar playing constantly improved and when he was 17 he founded a group with friends, Dave Dilloway and Tim Staffell. The group was named “1984” after the name of a Sci-fi book. The band played locally performing in halls and schools. Within 18 months Brian went to Imperial College in London to study astronomy and Physics. Brian began composing songs around this time, covering a wide variety of styles, but usually wrote ballads and hard rock. He still played in the group 1984 and even supported Jimmi Hendrix at one point. However the group did not last too long, as Brian needed time for study and the band itself felt there was not any potential for the group and they disbanded.

He stayed in contact touch with Tim Staffell and they agreed that they missed playing as a group. They posted up a note on a college notice board stating that they needed a drummer. They organised Drum-off competition, and one of competitors was Roger Meddows Taylor, from which the group Smile was formed and later Queen. (You can read the main bio to see what happened in relation to Queen from here…) Brian’s distinctive guitar style and excellent playing allowed Queen to launch themselves onto the music scene. Brian also wrote some of Queen’s great numbers from rockers such as Tie your mother Down and We Will Rock You to ballads like Who wants to live Forever. Brian remained an active musician after Freddie’s death in 1991, releasing solo albums and taking part in events such as 46664.

Brian has three children Jimmy, Louisa, and Emily Ruth, and remains heavily involved with Queen-related projects such as the Queen+ Paul Rodgers tour and the We Will Rock You musical which is running in places like the UK, USA, Australia, and Japan. In recent years Brian has been also involved in the Queen Extravaganza, along with Roger, which allows musicians to tour using the Queen back catalog. Brian has also been involved in the campaign to ban Fox Hunting with the Save Me campaign. Due to Brian’s involvement in astronomy, Asteroid 52665 Brianmay was named after him. Brian May was knighted in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to music and charity and this ceremony takes place in March 2023.
For more information and up-to-date news on Brian please visit his website which is constantly updated at

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