Brian May

Brian May

Brian May 2017 Guitar Cropped.jpg
May playing his Red Special in 2017
Background information
Birth nameBrian Harold May
Born (1947-07-19) 19 July 1947 (age 71)
Hampton, London, England
GenresRock
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • author
  • astrophysicist
Instruments
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1965–present
Labels
Associated acts
EducationHampton Grammar School
Alma materImperial College London (BSc, PhD)
Spouse(s)
Christine Mullen
(m. 1976; div. 1988)

Anita Dobson
(m. 2000)
Children3
AwardsInductee, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2001)
CBE (2005)
Scientific career
A survey of radial velocities in the zodiacal dust cloud (2008)
Doctoral advisor
Influences
Websitebrianmay.com

Brian Harold May, CBE (born 19 July 1947) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and astrophysicist. He is best known as the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen. He uses a home-built electric guitar called the Red Special.[3] His compositions for the band include "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".

May was a co-founder of Queen with lead singer Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor, having previously performed with Taylor in the band Smile, which he had joined while he was at university. Within five years of their formation in 1970 and the recruitment of bass player John Deacon completing the lineup, Queen had become one of the biggest rock bands in the world with the success of the album A Night at the Opera and its single "Bohemian Rhapsody". From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, Queen were an almost constant presence in the UK charts and played some of the biggest venues in the world, most notably giving an acclaimed performance at Live Aid in 1985. As a member of Queen, May became regarded as a virtuoso musician and he was identified with a distinctive sound created through his layered guitar work.

Following the death of Mercury in 1991, Queen were put on hiatus for several years but were eventually reconvened by May and Taylor for further performances featuring other vocalists. In 2005, a Planet Rock poll saw May voted the seventh greatest guitarist of all time.[4] He was ranked at No. 26 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".[5] In 2012, he was ranked the second greatest guitarist in a Guitar World magazine readers poll.[6] In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the band's members, and in 2018 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which recognises "the most distinctive recordings in music history".[7]

May was appointed a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 for "services to the music industry and for charity work".[8] May earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007,[1][2] and was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013.[9] He was a "science team collaborator" with NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission.[10][11] He is also a co-founder of the awareness campaign Asteroid Day.[12] Asteroid 52665 Brianmay was named after him. May is also an animal rights activist, campaigning against the hunting of foxes and the culling of badgers in the UK.[13]

Early life

Brian Harold May was born on 19 July 1947 in Hampton, Middlesex,[14] the only child of Ruth Irving (Fletcher) and Harold May, who worked as a draughtsman at the Ministry of Aviation.[15][16] His mother was Scottish, while his father was English.[17] May attended the local Hampton Grammar School, then a voluntary aided school.[14][15][18] During this time, he formed his first band, named 1984 after George Orwell's novel of the same name, with vocalist and bassist Tim Staffell.[19]

At Hampton Grammar School, he attained ten GCE Ordinary Levels and three GCE Advanced Levels in Physics, Mathematics, and Applied Mathematics.[19] He studied Mathematics and Physics at Imperial College London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1968 with honours.[20][21] In 2007, May was awarded a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London for work started in 1971 and completed in 2007.[1][2][22]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Brian May
Alemannisch: Brian May
العربية: برايان ماي
aragonés: Brian May
asturianu: Brian May
Aymar aru: Brian May
azərbaycanca: Brayan Mey
تۆرکجه: برایان می
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Браян Мэй
български: Брайън Мей
bosanski: Brian May
català: Brian May
čeština: Brian May
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Brian May
Cymraeg: Brian May
dansk: Brian May
Deutsch: Brian May
eesti: Brian May
Ελληνικά: Μπράιαν Μέι
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Brian May
español: Brian May
Esperanto: Brian May
euskara: Brian May
فارسی: برایان می
français: Brian May
galego: Brian May
հայերեն: Բրայան Մեյ
hrvatski: Brian May
Bahasa Indonesia: Brian May
íslenska: Brian May
italiano: Brian May
עברית: בריאן מיי
ქართული: ბრაიან მეი
Kiswahili: Brian May
Kreyòl ayisyen: Brian May
Latina: Brianus May
latviešu: Braiens Mejs
lietuvių: Brian Harold May
magyar: Brian May
македонски: Брајан Меј
Malagasy: Brian May
Nederlands: Brian May
norsk: Brian May
norsk nynorsk: Brian May
occitan: Brian May
Piemontèis: Brian May
polski: Brian May
português: Brian May
română: Brian May
русский: Мэй, Брайан
Scots: Brian May
sicilianu: Brian May
Simple English: Brian May
slovenčina: Brian May
slovenščina: Brian May
српски / srpski: Брајан Меј
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Brian May
suomi: Brian May
svenska: Brian May
Türkçe: Brian May
українська: Браян Мей
vèneto: Brian May
Tiếng Việt: Brian May
Winaray: Brian May
ייִדיש: ברייען מעי