Brian May

Brian May was born Brian Harold May in Hampton, Middlesex, on the 19th of July 1947.

During his time at school Brian formed a band called “1984” after the novel by George Orwell with bass guitar player and singer Tim Staffell.
In 1968 Brian formed the group “Smile” with fellow “1984” member Tim Staffell on vocals and bass guitar and soon to become “Queen” drummer Roger Taylor.

The band performed from 1968 to 1970 but disbanded after the departure of vocalist and bass guitar player Tim Staffell.

Later that same year Queen was formed with Brian May on lead guitar and and backing vocals, Freddie Mercury on vocals and piano, Roger Taylor on drums and backing vocals and John deacon on bass guitar.


Brian May has been playing the guitar he built with his Father while in his teens called “Red Special” for the large majority of his career.

Other guitars he has used at different times in his career include a Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Flying V, Yamaha, Ibanez, Tokai, Guild and Washburn.

Brian has sustained a loyal relationship with Vox amplifiers ever since meeting his guitar idol blues rock legend Rory Gallagher in the late 1960’s.

Brian uses a penny instead of a regular plectrum which contributes greatly to the guitar playing sound he achieves and occasionally uses a Foxx Foot Phaser pedal.

Musical Techniques, Concepts and Approaches

Brian May is praised as both an innovative rhythm guitarist and a formidable lead guitarist. He is largely cited as one of the first rock guitar players to popularise double tracked recordings of harmonies guitars.

The penny Brian prefers to play with creates a distinct, metallic sound amidst elegant scale phrasing, soulful blues phrasing, wild bends and sleek, fast licks.

A prominent element of Brian May‘s guitar playing is his confident vibrato as well as his distinctive and fast legato style that can be heard imitated in the playing of such rock guitar greats as Slash and Eddie Van Halen.

Influence In Rock Guitar Playing

Brian May is considered to be one of the most influential rock guitar players of all time.

His virtuosity in both his elegant and sophisticated lead and rhythm guitar playing styles have been cited as a profound influence on countless notable rock guitar players.

Brian’s contributions to recording with guitars with such concepts as overdubbed harmonies have been cited as an undeniable influence in the recording and production world.

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