Brian May, CBE is a musician, songwriter, and astrophysicist. Along with holding a Ph.D. in astrophysics, Brian May is famously known for playing the lead guitars in Queen.
Brian May has co-written Queen songs such as We Will Rock You, Fat Bottomed Girls, Ice Ice Baby, The Show Must Go On, and Who Wants to Live Forever.
Here are 19 quotes from the legend himself on playing guitar, his influences, Queen, and life!
On Learning and Playing Guitar
“The guitar was my weapon, my shield to hide behind.”
The guitar has a kind of grit and excitement possessed by nothing else.
“I’m hopeless at playing scales. Try and be instinctive first and analytic afterwards, although it’s good to study the theory of music.”
“I tend not to write on guitar very often. I tend to start off with keyboards.”"I'm pretty basic as far as technique is concerned. I don't use many gadgets, and I like the sound my guitar makes, anyway." Click To Tweet
On His Guitar Influences
“I really thought I was pretty good before I saw Hendrix, and then I thought: Yeah, not so good.”
“George Harrison was a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous guitarist, and a wonderful example of what a rock star should be. I totally revered him as an innovator. He was always fresh, daring, magnificently melodic, full of spiritual quality, and totally conscious of the chord structure beneath the solo. And he had the courage to play simple. He never took refuge in effects, or tried to impress with speed. I hope he knew how much we all loved and respected him.”
“It’s wonderful for me to see what ‘We Will Rock You’ has done. ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’ have kind of transcended the normal framework of where music is listened to and appreciated – they’ve become part of public life, which I feel wonderful about.”
Queen songs tend to be about very personal things: personal dreams and personal ambitions.
“We do play to our audience. It’s very important. You can’t create music in a vacuum.”"Queen songs are not about the life of a rock star – they tend to be about the lives of normal people, which is why I think the songs connect so much. We're very lucky that they seemingly connect with every generation." Click To Tweet
“This man (Freddie Mercury) truly possessed the greatest voice in the history of rock. Journalists, culture experts, and analysts have already made several hundred comments on this topic and nothing can be added here.”
“I’m into paradoxes. I wanted to make an album about them, but the group told me I was a pretentious fart. They were right.”
“I had this big thing about guitar harmonies. I wanted to be the first to put proper three-part harmonies onto a record. That was an achievement.”
On Life, Astrophysics, and Philosophy
“The biggest emotion in creation is the bridge to optimism.”
“I despise the Lottery. There’s less chance of you becoming a millionaire than there is of getting hit on the head by a passing asteroid.”"There is no way that you can ever really repeat something. I have this great belief that the magic of the moment can never be recaptured." Click To Tweet
“I go through major crises every few months, but then I have great peaks of belief and creativity. I’m a weird kind of animal.”
Share your favorite Queen song with fellow guitar geeks in the comments below!
I think music is about our internal life. It’s part of the way people touch each other. That’s very precious to me. And astronomy is, in a sense, the very opposite thing. Instead of looking inwards, you are looking out, to things beyond our grasp.