For several great guitarists it was hard to get noticed when sharing the stage with a flamboyant singer. That was Brian May's fate. Freddie Mercury was easily Queen's dominate personality and focal point. But May's guitar; loud, rough and muscular was the perfect counterpoint to Mercury's drama. May kicked songs into gear. Capable of playing blazingly fast leads, check "Bohemian Rhapsody," May could also provide the lean force that drove songs like "We Will Rock You." What gave May an edge was his versatility. He had a definite melodic side. He could play breathtakingly gorgeous, lush parts in "You're My Best Friend" and "Killer Queen," then turn right around and blast away. In addition to his guitar expertise, May was an accomplished songwriter contributing "Tie Your Mother Down" and "Keep Yourself Alive," among numerous others.
May showed an early musical aptitude, first on the ukulele, then guitar and piano. Since he could not afford an electric guitar, Brian and his dad made one - May's "Red Special." Brian began a succession of bands in the '60s with names like Reaction and Smile. He eventually hooked up with drummer Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury to launch Queen.
Following Mercury's death in '91, Queen disbanded. May continued with guitar drenched solo CDs and occasionally got together with his fellow surviving Queen bandmates, usually for charity related gigs. They even hit the road billed as Queen + Paul Rodgers (the ex-Bad Company/Free/Firm vocalist) in '05.
May was recognized in '10 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for his support of the Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue Center in Camberley, U.K., and for launching the "Save Me" campaign to ensure that the present laws protecting animals from cruelty are kept in place. "Fighting for the welfare of our wild animals is not a task that any of us want to have to do," said May of the award. "We do it because these magnificent animals live, breathe, see, hear, and feel pleasure and pain like we do, but they do not speak our language, so in the world of humans, they have no voice."
Please see Queen.