Born on this day, 19th July 1947, Brian May, guitarist, singer and songwriter with Queen.
Brian May formed the band Smile in 1968. The group included Tim Staffell as singer and bassist, and later, drummer Roger Taylor, who also went on to play for Queen.
As a guitarist he uses his home-built guitar, “Red Special”, The wood used to make the neck came from a fireplace mantel. The original Red Special was built by May himself along with his father, Harold. They began to work on the guitar in August 1963. The tremolo system is made from an old hardened-steel knife-edge shaped into a V and two motorbike valve springs to counter the string tension.
Only two UK chart-topping tracks have ever left the chart and then returned to top it a second time in exactly the same version. “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison (1971 and 2002), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (1975 and 1991).
Freddie Mercury and Brian May from Queen grew up less than 100 yards from each other but never met until 1970.
Queen have scored over 40 UK Top 40 singles.
May has used Vox AC30 amplifiers almost exclusively since a meeting with his long time hero Rory Gallagher at a gig in London during the late ’60s/early ’70s. His choice is the model AC30TBX, the top-boost version with Blue Alnico speakers, and he runs the amp at full volume on the Normal channel.
Brian wrote Queen’s worldwide hit “We Will Rock You”, as well as “Tie Your Mother Down”, “Who Wants to Live Forever”, “Hammer to Fall”, “Save Me”, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “I Want It All”.
In Queen’s three-part vocal harmonies, May’s was generally the lower-range backing vocal.
Queen had the 1980 US No.1 single Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
May has had a lifelong interest in collecting Victorian stereophotography. In 2009, with co-author Elena Vidal, he published his second book, A Village Lost and Found, on the work of English stereophotography innovator TR Williams.
May had the solo 1992 UK No.5 single “Too Much Love Will Kill You.”
May was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for ‘services to the music industry and his charity work’.
May earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College, London, in 2007.
Brian May has formed a group to promote animal welfare. His group, Save Me (named after the May-written Queen song), campaigns for the protection of all animals against unnecessary, cruel and degrading treatment; with a particular emphasis on preventing hunting of foxes and the culling of badgers.
In 2005, a Planet Rock poll saw May voted the 7th greatest guitarist of all time, while Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 26 of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Asteroid 52665 Brianmay was named in his honour on 18 June 2008 on the suggestion of Sir Patrick Moore.