Red Special: Behind The Scenes Part 2


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Brian May’s Red Special

Check out Part 2 of Simon Bradley’s ‘Behind The Scenes’….

3 November by Simon Bradley

Here’s the second part of collaborating author Simon Bradley’s account of what it took to get the book ‘Brian May’s Red Special: The Story of the Home-Made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World’ to the shelves.

In this episode he describes the planning process of the book’s detailed content, from an embryonic chapter list to wrestling with the reams of raw material. He also gives an insight on what it took to meticulously plan, schedule and ultimately conduct a marathon interview with Brian from which the heart of the book’s content would emerge.

How would it all go down?

Pictures is Easy; Words is Hard…

The book was always going to be written in the first person. In fact, that was the first thing I wrote in my little planning notebook when I began to grapple with the whole concept. I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear anything from me, but would much prefer reading about the guitar as if Brian was telling the tale himself. As it turned out much later, Brian wouldn’t agree, but we’ll get to that.

For now, I knew that I’d need a hefty chunk of Brian’s time in order to obtain all the detail required for such a focussed book, but arranging an interview with his office was still a way down the line. First I needed a plan, and the way to tackle that, irrespective of subject, is to come up with a chapter list. I knew that we’d need to talk about his childhood, so that was one chapter; how the guitar was conceived and designed would comprise another; and how it was actually built, a third. Brian had informed us that he specifically wanted his personal account of the performance atop Buckingham Palace in there too, and there were other areas we also needed to visit. In short, I came up with six chapters, each with a clever title (‘Father To Son’ was a shoo-in; others took more time to concoct) and a short synopsis and, once this framework had been approved by my publisher and all the rather dirty money stuff had been worked out, I began working on the interview itself. It was down to me to put flesh on dem bones.


Brian May with radios

Brian checks out the radio sets built by his dad that he’d not seen for a while. A deep moment.
The original tin of Rustins can be seen just to the right of the taller radio.
Pic © S Bradley


Brian May Red Special BookIn the next instalment, coming soon, Simon describes the exhaustive process of putting the plans into place, knuckling down to produce a number of drafts and ultimately getting the book written. Then, the vital editing process begins and, all being well, final approval from Brian himself…

Order: Brian May’s Red Special Book
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