Brian May ascended to rock superstardom as the primary guitarist for Queen. In addition, he has achieved advanced degrees in physics and is a dedicated advocate for animal welfare.
Who Is Brian May?
Brian May, renowned for his role as the lead guitarist of the iconic rock band Queen, wielded his homemade instrument, the “Red Special,” during the band’s ascent to stardom in the 1970s. Following the passing of the charismatic frontman Freddie Mercury in 1991, Queen experienced a resurgence in success with vocalists Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert. May contributed significantly to the creation of the enduring musical “We Will Rock You,” which features Queen’s timeless songs. Additionally, he played a key role in the 2018 biographical film “Bohemian Rhapsody” centered around Freddie Mercury. Beyond his musical pursuits, May holds advanced degrees in astrophysics, is an accomplished author, and passionately dedicates his time to various animal welfare causes.
Born on July 19, 1947, in Hampton, Middlesex, England, Brian Harold May was the son of Ruth and Harold May. Even in his teenage years, May showcased his creativity by constructing his own guitar, known as “The Red Special,” with the assistance of his father. Crafted from unconventional materials like firewood and played with a six-pence coin, this homemade instrument would become a central element in May’s musical journey, featuring prominently in every Queen album and live performance.
May pursued his education at Hampton Grammar School, now known as the Hampton School. Demonstrating exceptional academic prowess, he graduated in 1965 and proceeded to join the astrophysics program at London Imperial College, earning his bachelor’s degree in science. Although he had completed most of his Ph.D. by 1974, May ultimately finished his doctoral studies in 2007.
Music Career with Queen
During his time at London Imperial College, May established a rock band named Smile. His enthusiasm for music quickly overshadowed his interest in astrophysics. In 1971, May postponed the completion of his Ph.D. to embark on a musical journey with his band, eventually renaming it Queen—a moniker that would go on to achieve legendary status in the realm of rock ‘n’ roll. May served as the lead guitarist, vocalist, and occasional songwriter. Freddie Mercury, the band’s lead vocalist, also showcased his piano skills. John Deacon handled the bass guitar, and Roger Taylor took on drums and vocals.
May is the father of three children: Jimmy, Louisa, and Emily. He tied the knot with Chrissie Mullen in 1974, and together they had one son and two daughters. Following their separation, May entered into a marriage with Anita Dobson in 2000.
After a gardening mishap in May 2020, the guitarist experienced a nearly fatal heart attack. Despite the ordeal, he successfully recuperated and confidently declared himself “prepared to rock.”