Queen guitarist Brian May helped to pioneer new advances in both music and recording with the sounds that he created as part of the legendary band. His decades of work with Queen occupy a huge chunk of the years that May has spent on the planet, so it's understandable that these days he's focusing his pursuits on other things and not just music. In that light, we're sharing 10 Things You Didn't Know About Brian May:
You might know him as T.E. Conway.
We're not saying that T.E. Conway is Brian May, but this alleged "cousin" of Conway Twitty bears striking resemblance to May. His one release to date, 'Retro Rock,' featuring covers of Twitty's 'Only Make Believe' and Buddy Holly's 'Maybe Baby' among others, was produced by May, and it came packaged as a bonus with early copies of May's solo album 'Another World.' Just a series of coincidences, we're sure.
He celebrates the Sabbath.
That's Brian chipping in the guitar solo on the Black Sabbath track 'When Death Calls' from their 1989 'The Headless Cross' album. Although the relatively unheralded album features neither Dio nor Ozzy on vocals, May's mate Cozy Powell played drums.
That grunge sounds somewhat familiar.
Brian teamed up with Soundgarden for the track 'New Damage,' on which he played (shocker!) guitar. The song appeared on the benefit 'Alternative NRG' compilation. Cornell and May would later collaborate again on 'Someone To Die For,' sung by Jimmy Gnecco for the 'Spiderman 2' soundtrack.
Sure, he'll have a cigar.
One of a number of Brian/Foo Fighters team-ups, May played on a reworked version of Pink Floyd's 'Have a Cigar' by the Foos that appeared on the soundtrack for 'Mission Impossible 2.'
He's a little bit tired of talking about Freddie.
No disrespect to his former bandmate, but May has heard the stock question “what was it like working with Freddie Mercury?” one too many times. Truthfully, it has more to do with the inescapable legacy that he created with Mercury. As he said in a recent interview, “Queen cast a long shadow.”
Here's something that's out of this world.
Did you know that Brian May has a PhD in astrophysics? Yep –- after abandoning his academic pursuits for three decades to be a rock star, he returned to school in 2007 to complete and receive his degree.
The beloved 'Red Special' was born from necessary thriftiness.
May couldn't afford the Les Paul and Stratocaster guitars that he really wanted, so he built his own guitar with the help of his father. The 'Red Special' has become the signature instrument associated with Brian's guitar playing and iconic personality. (No disrespect to his impressive shock of curly hair.)
Star Fleet, Commander May
With the help of Colonel Edward Van Halen, Lieutenant Alan Gratzer of REO Speedwagon (we're making up titles here) and Queen mate Roger Taylor, May laid down an EP worth of material that initially was never meant to be heard. Featuring a jamming May roller called 'Let Me Out,' the Star Fleet Project was inspired by May's son Jimmy, who was a fan of the British 'Star Fleet' sci-fi series of the same name. May heard the theme song and had the idea to record a harder edged version of the theme.
That 'Commander' title is real, though.
In 2005, May was named “Commander of the Order of the British Empire” for “services to the music industry.” Quite an honor for any young London-born boy to reach later in life. As AC/DC would say -- For all the times you rocked, we salute you.
Brian has been a fan of 3-D since collecting stereo cards that were distributed as prizes in cereal when he was growing up. He joined the Stereoscopic Society nearly 40 years ago and spent his mornings after Queen concerts visiting shops in search of new items. He says that touring allowed him to meet like-minded individuals across the world. Today his shopping sprees have slowed down a bit, but he still has a collection that numbers “tens of thousands.”