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Brian May

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Brian May
Brian May
Brian May in 2010

Artist Information
Birth Name Brian Harold May
Born 19 July 1947 (age 63)

Hampton, London, England, UK

Hometown Hampton, London, England, UK
Genres Rock, Jazz
Instruments {{{intruments}}}
Website brianmay.com


Brian Harold May, CBE (born 19 July 1947) is an English musician and astrophysicist most widely known as the guitarist and a songwriter of the rock band Queen. As a guitarist he uses his home-built guitar, "Red Special", and has composed hits such as "Now I'm Here", "Tie Your Mother Down", "We Will Rock You", "Who Wants to Live Forever", "Hammer to Fall", "Save Me", "Fat Bottomed Girls", "I Want It All" and "Too Much Love Will Kill You". May earned a PhD in astrophysics in 2007 and is currently the Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.[1] May lives in Surrey.[2]

He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for "services to the music industry".

In 2005, a Planet Rock poll saw May voted the 7th greatest guitarist of all time.[3] He was ranked 39th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".[4]

Life and Career Edit

in order on what happened time after time

Early Life Edit

Brian May, the only child of Harold and Ruth May, was born in Hampton, London and attended Hampton Grammar School (now Hampton School).[5] During this time he formed his first band with vocalist and bassist Tim Staffell named Nineteen Eighty-Four after George Orwell'snovel of the same name.[6] He graduated from Hampton Grammar School with ten GCE Ordinary Levels and three Advanced Levels in Physics, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.[6]

May's father Harold worked as a draughtsman at the Ministry of Aviation and had been a long-time cigarette-smoker. As a result, May dislikes smoking,[7] even to the point where he has prohibited smoking indoors at his more recent concerts.[8]

From 1974 to 1988, May was married to Chrissie Mullen, who is the mother of his three children: Jimmy, who was born on 15 June 1978; Louisa, who was born on 22 May 1981 and Emily Ruth, who was born on 17 February 1987. Chrissie and Brian separated in 1988.

He has stated in interviews that he suffered from depression in the late 1980s, even to the point of contemplating suicide,[9] for reasons having to do with his troubled first marriage and his perceived failure as a husband and a dad, his father Harold's death, and Freddie Mercury's illness.[10]

May is now married to former Eastenders actress Anita Dobson, whom he met in 1986, and who gained fame in the 1980s for providing vocals to the theme tune to the aforementioned soap, entitled "Anyone Can Fall in Love".[11] May himself produced the song, which reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1986.

According to The Sunday Times Rich List he is worth £70 million as of 2009.[12]

SmileEdit

Main refernce: Smile

Smile were formed in 1968 by Brian May. The group included Tim Staffell as singer and bassist, and later, drummer Roger Taylor, who also went on to play for Queen. The band lasted for only two years from 1968 to 1970, as Staffel left in 1970, leaving the band with a catalogue of only nine songs:

Smile would reunite for several songs on 22 December 1992. Taylor's band The Cross were headliners and he brought May and Staffell on to play "Earth" and "If I Were a Carpenter".[13]May also performed several other songs that night.

Queen Edit

Main refernce: Queen
Hannover7907

Queen in 1979.

In Queen's three-part vocal harmonies, May's was generally the lower-range backing vocal. On some of his songs he sings the lead vocal, most notably the first verse of "Who Wants to Live Forever", the bridge on "I Want It All" and "Flash's Theme", and full lead vocals on "Some Day One Day", "She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettoes)", "'39", "Good Company", "Long Away", "All Dead, All Dead", "Sleeping on the Sidewalk", "Leaving Home Ain't Easy" and "Sail Away Sweet Sister".

Throughout Queen's career May frequently wrote songs for the band and has composed many significant songs such as the 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".

After the famous Live Aid concert in summer 1985, Mercury rang his bandmates and proposed writing a song together. The result was "One Vision", which was basically May on music (the Magic Years documentary shows how he came up with the opening section and the basic guitar riff) and Roger Taylor on lyrics, with Freddie Mercury being more a producer and arranger than a proper co-writer, and John Deaconmostly absent.

For their 1989 release album, The Miracle, the band had decided that all of the tracks would be credited to the entire band, no matter who had been the main writer. Still, interviews and musical analyses tend to help identify the input of each member on each track.

May composed "I Want It All" for that album, as well as "Scandal" (based on his personal problems with the British press). For the rest of the album he did not contribute so much creatively, although he helped in building the basis of "Party" and "Was It All Worth It" (both being predominantly Mercury's pieces) and created the guitar riff of "Chinese Torture".

Queen's subsequent album was Innuendo, on which May's contributions increased, although more in arrangements than actual writing in most cases; for the title track he did some of the arrangement for the heavy solo, then he added vocal harmonies to "I'm Going Slightly Mad" and composed the solo of "These Are the Days of Our Lives", a song for which the four of them decided the keyboard parts together. He changed the tempo and key of Mercury's song "The Hitman" and took it under his wing, even singing guide vocal in the demo. May also co-wrote some of the guitar lines in "Bijou".

Two songs that May had composed for his first solo album, "Headlong" and "I Can't Live With You", eventually ended up in the Queen project. His other composition was "The Show Must Go On", a group effort in which he was the coordinator and primary composer, but in which they all had input, Deacon and Taylor with the famous chord sequence.

In recent years, he has overseen the remastering of Queen albums and various DVD and greatest hits releases. In 2004, he announced that he and drummer Roger Taylor were going on tour for the first time in 18 years as "Queen", along with Free/Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers. Billed as "Queen + Paul Rodgers", the band has played throughout 2005 and 2006 in South Africa, Europe, Aruba, Japan, and North America and released a new album with Paul Rodgers in 2008, entitled The Cosmos Rocks. This album was supported by a major tour.

The Brian May Band Edit

Brian-May with red special

May playing his red special

The Brian May Band was officially formed in late October 1992, following the release of his album Back to the Light. An early version of the band was loosely formed for 19 October 1991, when May took part in the Guitar Legends guitar festival in Seville, Spain. The line-up for his performance was May (Lead Vocals & Lead Guitar), Cozy Powell (Drums & Percussion), Mike Moran (Keyboards), Rick Wakeman(Keyboards), Maggie Ryder (Backing vocals), Miriam Stockley (Backing vocals) and Chris Thompson (Backing vocals).

Following the death of Freddie Mercury in November 1991, May chose to deal with his grief by committing himself as fully as possible to work, first by finishing his solo album and then touring worldwide to promote it. He frequently remarked in press interviews that this was the only form of self-prescribed therapy he could think of.[14]

The original line-up was Brian May (Lead Vocals and Lead Guitar), Cozy Powell (Drums and Percussion), Mike Caswell (Guitar), Neil Murray(Bass), Maggie Ryder (Backing vocals), Miriam Stockley (Backing vocals) and Chris Thompson (Backing vocals). This version of the band lasted only during the South American support tour (supporting The B-52's and Joe Cocker) on only five dates. In Spain, a Catalan band called Sweet Sister support the tour.

Afterwards, May made significant changes, feeling the group never quite gelled. Most significantly, May brought guitarist Jamie Moses on board to replace Mike Caswell. May considered Moses a perfect fit to the band. The other change made was in the backing vocal department. Ryder, Stockley and Thompson were replaced with Catherine Porter and Shelley Preston. On 23 February 1993, this new line-up of The Brian May Band began its world tour in the US, both supporting Guns N' Roses and headlining a few dates. The tour would take them through North America, Europe (support act: Valentine) and Japan.

After the tour ended on 18 December 1993, May returned to the studio with fellow surviving Queen band members Roger Taylor and John Deacon to work on tracks that became Made in Heaven, the final Queen studio album. The band took Mercury's solo album demos and last recordings, which he managed to perform in the studio after the album Innuendo was finished, and completed them with their additions both musically and vocally. Work on the album after Mercury's death originally began in 1992 by Deacon and May, but was left until a later date due to other commitments.

In 1995, May began working towards a new solo album of covers tentatively named Heroes, in addition to working on various film and television projects and other collaborations. May subsequently changed the approach of his second album from covers to focus on those collaborations and on new material. The songs recorded for that album, Another World, would feature mainly Spike Edney, Cozy Powell, Neil Murray and Jamie Moses, who had become his core support/collaborative team.

On 5 April 1998, Cozy Powell was killed in a car accident on the M4 motorway near Bristol, England. This caused a huge, unexpected disruption to the upcoming tour for The Brian May Band, with the need for a new drummer on short notice. Steve Ferrone was brought on to help May finish recording drums for the title track "Another World" and to join the band for the early stage promotional tour of five dates in Europe before the world tour.

The line up was then May (Lead Vocals & Lead Guitar), Edney (Keyboards), Murray (Bass), Moses (Guitar), Ferrone (Drums & Percussion), Susie Webb (Backing vocals) and Zoe Nicholas (Backing vocals). Following the early promo tour, Eric Singer replaced Steve Ferrone for the full 1998 world tour.

Later Solo Work Edit

From his last solo release in 1998 May has been performing as a solo artist, as part of an ensemble, and infrequently as Queen with Roger Taylor.

On 22 October 2000, Brian May made a guest appearance at the Motörhead 25th Anniversary show at Brixton Academy along with Eddie Clarke (former Motörhead guitarist) for the encore song "Overkill".

In the Queen's birthday honours list of 2005, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire "for services to the music industry".[15]

May is a friend of singer and musician Phil Collins and was a special guest at the Genesis reunion concert at Twickenham Stadium in 2007.

On 17 November 2007, Brian May was appointed Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University,[16] taking over from Cherie Blair, and installed in 2008.[17]

He also played guitar on three songs for Kerry Ellis' Wicked in Rock album as well as producing her debut album, Anthems. Whilst producing the album, Brian contributed a guitar solo to Meat Loaf's Hang Cool, Teddy Bear album in exchange for the use of drummer John Miceli.

Along with Elena Vidal, Brian May released a historical book in 2009 entitled A Village Lost and Found: Scenes in Our Village. The book is an annotated collection of stereoscopic photographs taken by the Victorian era photographer T. R. Williams and it is sold with a focussing stereoscope. May became an enthusiast of stereoscope photographs as a child, and first encountered the work of Williams during the late 1960s. In 2003 May announced a search in order to identify the actual location of the Scenes in Our Village images. In 2004 May reported that he had identified the location as the village of Hinton Waldrist in Oxfordshire.

In November 2009, May appeared on the popular reality TV show The X Factor with band mate Roger Taylor as Queen mentoring the contestants, then later performing "Bohemian Rhapsody".

In April 2010, May founded the Save Me 2010 project to work against any proposed repeal of the fox-hunting ban.[18]

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