Brian May

Born July 19, 1947

Brian's Children

Brian was born in Twickenham, England and began learning to play the piano at age 5, and the ukulele by the time he was 6. Brian got his first acoustic guitar on his 7th birthday and soon began altering it to make it more handleable and to give it an electric sound.

By the time Brian was in his mid-teens, he was no longer satisfied playing an acoustic guitar with pickups added. He wanted a real electric guitar, but that was something that he and his family couldn't afford. Brian's father was an electronics engineer, and Brian himself was a talented physics student planning a career in astronomy, so they decided to work together and build Brian a new guitar.

They began building the guitar in August 1963 when Brian was 16. The materials for the guitar came from some unique and unusual places. The neck is made from mahogany from an old fireplace, the body mostly from oak, and the tremolo assembly included a knife edge and two motorbike valve springs. The fret-markers are made from old pearl buttons. Brian originally wound his own pick-ups for the guitar, as he had for his first guitar, but he didn't like the resulting sound so he finally purchased Burns pickups. He didn't care for their microphonic sound, so he filled them with epoxy. Brian's guitar quickly became known as the "Red Special".

Instead of using a regular guitar pick, Brian found, after much experimentation, that he preferred the sound he achieved when using an old English sixpence coin. He felt it gave him more contact with the strings and more control over them. The sixpence hasn't been in circulation since the early 70's. In late 1992 or early 1993 Brian got the Royal Mint to make up coins with his likeness on them for use as picks.

These special coins were sold on Brian's "Back to the Light" tour and through Adrian Hopkins, the merchandise company that works with the Official International Queen Fan Club, but they sold out of them in mid 1994.

Brian has earned his BSc (Hons) in both Physics and Maths. He did much of the work towards his Doctorate in astronomy but never completed it.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Light-colored "Red Special" Seen In Two Videos?

In the We Will Rock You and Spread Your wings video, you see a light colored version of Brian's guitar. It was a 'duplicate' guitar made for Brian by John Birch. Brian was never very satisfied with it.

Is The Brian May who does film scores "our" Brian May?

No! This is a Brian May from Australia. The only soundtracks our Brian has done are the ones Queen has done, and music for Shakespeare's play Macbeth done by the Red and Gold Theater Company in London, but this music is not commercially available. Two specific ones that come up frequently are the soundtrack for "Road Warriors" and for "Nightmare on Elm Street (Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare)"--these are absolutely *not* our Brian!

How Tall is Brian?

Brian is 6' 1.5" (approximately 186.7 cm). That's not counting clogs!

Back to Band Information