While he is undoubtedly most well known for being the lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the incredibly famous rock band Queen, there is a lot more to Brian May.
As a composer, physicist, singer, record producer, guitarist, and so much more, Brian May has certainly made his mark on the world over the past fifty years.
May was born on July 19, 1947, in Hampton, England, and lived a reasonably normal life. He attended Imperial College to study astrophysics, and it was there that he formed his first band Smile.
While Smile did well in the college scene, the creation of Queen eventually led to May’s worldwide fame. With Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, May and the gang were seriously something special. When John Deacon joined the group, Queen was properly formed.
Queen was known as a group of misfits; each member would write songs, sing, and play their designated instruments, but their sound was like nothing anyone had ever heard before.
During his time with Queen, May’s most memorable songs were “We Will Rock You,” “Tie Your Mother Down,” “I Want It All,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Flash,” “Hammer to Fall,” “Save Me,” “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “The Show Must Go On.”
The band broke records left and right, but they had a seemingly short-lived time in the spotlight as their lead singer and close friend of May, Freddie Mercury, died of AIDS in 1991. Although the band stopped touring in 1983 due to exhaustion, they continued to make music together for the rest of the decade.
Because of his time in Queen, a Planet Rock poll in 2005 rated May 7 greatest guitarist of all time, and in 2012, he was ranked the second greatest guitarist in a Guitar World magazine readers poll.
No matter where he falls on the list, there is no doubt that Brian May is one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
After Queen was over, May continued to make music and created several solo albums with varying levels of success.
But May isn’t just a music man; he is also an academic.
He earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007 and was a “science team collaborator” with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. There was even an asteroid named after him for his work on the awareness for the Asteroid Day campaign.
May is also an animal rights activist, campaigning against hunting foxes and culling badgers in the UK.
May is still rocking today at seventy-five years old, and he recently played an incredible show with Adam Lambert.
The Queen superstar will forever live on as one of the greatest guitarists of all time who wrote some of the world’s favorite rock songs. Let’s hope Brian May keeps playing for a long, long time!