Brian May was born July 19, 1947, in Hampton, England. In 1971, he hit the road along with his band, Queen, playing lead guitar on his home made ax, the “Red Special.” In 1973, Queen released their self-titled debut record. By 1985, the group was falling in popularity. In 1977, Queen released “We Will Rock You,” among the groups most popular tunes. In 1991, leader singer Freddie Mercury died.
An innovative teenager, May, together with assistance from his dad, constructed his own home made guitar, dubbed “The Red Special.” The guitar, that was made from such makeshift substances like firewood and played using a sixpence coin to get a pick, would later figure prominently in Brian May’s musical profession.
The youthful May received his schooling in the Hampton Grammar School (now the Hampton School). After graduation, he enrolled in the astrophysics program at London Imperial College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in science.
His passion for music shortly trumped his fascination with astrophysics. The group’s lead vocalist, Freddie Mercury, also played the piano.
In 1973, after signing with EMI Records, Queen released their self-titled debut record, which went gold. Using its new and distinctive sound, the group won over fans in the Uk as well as America.
The year 1974 brought the launch of two more successful Queen records: Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack. The latter was a bestseller, featuring the Top single, “Killer Queen.” The record also gave birth to among Queen’s best known hits—the rock opera song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with May cranking out a trebly solo on his “Red Special.” Also that year, Queen started headlining concerts on their world tour.
While recording Queen’s records, May utilized his familiarity with physics in the recording studio: Using what he understood about sound waves, he created echoes that amplified the stomping and clapping section of the tune, creating the delusion the sounds were coming from an enormous bunch of men and women. With “We Will Rock You,” May strove to produce an anthem that inspired crowd involvement and unity. The tune reached its desired effect at concerts, as bunch members stomped, chanted and clapped along in synchronicity.
The hit single “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was released the exact same year, getting critical acclaim. By 1985, the group had reached its pinnacle and was starting to diminish in popularity. However, Queen was able to release some platinum records until disaster hit May as well as the group in 1991, when leader vocalist Freddie Mercury died of AIDS. In the aftermath of Mercury’s passing, May and the group created the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS-help charity.
They released a studio album, Cosmo Rocks, in 2008. In 2012, May and Taylor returned to the stage once more, this time with Adam Lambert on vocals.
Besides his musical career and family life, May has kept a lifelong interest in astrophysics. In 2008, he went back to school to earn his long-anticipated Ph.D. May is also an enthusiastic collector of stereoscopic photography.