FROM ARCHIVES Mon 12 Jan 2004:
On Thursday 8 January 04, over 200 people were gathering at The House Of Guitars in Brune Street, London, E1, awaiting the arrival of Brian May, who was scheduled to be officially re-opening The House of Guitars, following its recent move to new premises.
Hospitality was excellent, and there was a free bar on hand. Thank you House of Guitars!!
Brian arrived at about 6.30 pm and Barry Moorhouse, the owner, went on stage and introduced him. It had been decided to do the cutting the ribbon bit first to get that out of the way, so brandishing a pair of scissors Brian announced in his normal good humour… “I declare this Record Shop open!!!” (House of Guitars being a Guitar shop.. but never mind!)
Then Brian plugged in the real Red Special after checking with Pete Malandrone that they had several  little Vox BMS amps plugged in, and proceeded to ‘make some noise’.
Brian played of medley of
– Amazing Grace… which evolved into Hammer to Fall style
– Brighton Rock extract (the clapping section)
– Chinese Torture
After much applauds and cheering from the over 200 fans and guitarists, Brian then said that he had nothing to do for the next like 3 minutes and would be happy to answer questions anyone might have…
BRIAN MAY AT HOUSE OF GUITARS
BRUNE ST, LONDON T
hursday 8 January 2004.
BARRY MOORHOUSE: One – two
Ladies and gents, thanks for coming down to The House of Guitars. Twenty years in Wapping, a few months here, and we’re very very very privileged to have somebody officially open the store. Gonna cut this ribbon in front of you, and then, to quote Brian, he’s gonna “make some noise” – I think. Could you give a big welcome … MR BRIAN MAY!!! [Cheering]
BRIAN MAY: Previously we had a little conference about this… we decided the ribbon was gonna get in the way, so we’re just gonna do the ribbon thing now, okay –
SO – I DECLARE THIS RECORD SHOP OPEN!!!!!
[Cheering and clapping]
Down darling. Thanks mate, thank you. Any guitarists in here?
BRIAN: Great. I’ll just say a couple of words. I’ve known Barry for a very long time and in this business we all start off small and if we’re lucky we get big enough to fulfil some of our dreams, and Barry’s fulfilled a lot of his own dreams and he’s also helped a lot of us to fulfill ours – so I’d like to say a big, huge round of applause to Barry, please. Give it up. [Clapping]
[One person heckles]
I’ve no idea if this is gonna work. I asked Pete at the beginning of this to, in fact a few hours ago, to set up some stuff around the room. Where are they, Pete? Ah they’re here. Oh, I thought they were gonna be further away. Well. This is the little amp which currently we are selling. So, I mean I don’t like to sell stuff, you know, but, you know, if you fancy buying one of these then [mumbles]……
So I shall see if it works. We have three, I think, at this particular moment in time….
On Red Special:
– Intro chords…
– AMAZING GRACE – verse on guitar
It seems to be working anyway. [Clapping and whistling]
– (continues Amazing Grace in style of slow Hammer to Fall)
– BRIGHTON ROCK (clapping extract)
– AUDIENCE CLAPS ALONG
– CHINESE TORTURE
[Clapping and cheering]
You’re very kind. Thank you. I know all of you can play a lot better than that. [Laughing]
I used to be allowed to make a noise, you know. If anybody… I don’t have anything to do for the next like 3 minutes, so [laughs] if anybody has any questions, I’d be happy to, to take a couple if you want, if there’s anything you wanna know.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Brazil, was it 81, I saw you in Sao Paulo?
BM: I couldn’t tell ya.
It coulda been Sao Paulo in 81. Yeah about 81 probably.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Brian, which album?
BM: Which album? What – the one in my head. I’d seriously like to make another album, you know, sort of guitar music. There will be a time. I’d love to – thank you for asking me.
At the moment I’m working on a Madrid Cast Album, which is actually great. It’s got a couple of great guitar players in Madrid in our show, in the We Will Rock You Show, and the cast are very good singers, so I’ve been working on putting their lines together, which should be out in a month’s time.
Last night I was working on a Pepsi advert. [Laughing]
Now you may laugh and I laugh as well, but these people came to us and said ‘We’d like to use We Will Rock You as a tune for our next TV commercial. Whaddaya think?’ And they said they’d pay us lots of money so we went ‘Nah’. [Laughing]
And then they said ‘Well we’ve got these three singers, who want to sing it and we want you to produce the singers – now we’ve got Britney Spears, we’ve got Pink, and we’ve got Beyonce…. And er… [Laughing]
…‘Do you still want to say No’. and I went: ‘Nah, nah, nah, I’ll do it.’ [Laughter]
So I had a great time when I was mixing some of that stuff yesterday, and that’s kind of what I get up to these days… all kinds of stuff, apart from Astronomy.
Does anybody read my website stuff?
CROWD: Yes!!!! [Cheering]
You know I get myself into all kinds of trouble because I shoot my mouth off on my Soapbox about all kinds of things. The most recent thing was about Whales. I got myself into lots of trouble about whales, because I figured people shouldn’t be eating them in this day and age – but I got loads of people writing saying ‘You know you shouldn’t be eatin’ cows at this point’ – and I think they have a point. So I’m gonna leave that one now. [laughing]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Brian, where is there to go after Buckingham Palace?
After Buckingham Palace, where is there to go? Well the only way is down I suppose, [laughing] It was a great, great moment of sort of conquering fear that for me, it really was. It was a life changing experience.
But I was scared today, I gotta tell ya. I mean, you guys are all great guitar players. I know what it’s like you’re all watching my fingers. I mean what the HELL can I play these people that they’d be remotely interested in. But – I don’t know – the answer to that. There’s always new challenges. We recently did a concert for Nelson Mandella and that was a big challenge as well. There was a lot of responsibility on the shoulders when that came up – thank you – yeah. It came off quite well I think. Not very well on English TV, cos you never saw us on. But the DVD will be out at some point so you’ll actually get to see what we did. And we wrote a couple of new songs for that, which I think MIGHT be the start of Queen doing some stuff. You know it’s always on the horizon you know – do we actually make another Queen album? And it’s been a thorny question for a some time. A lot of people seem to think that Roger and I can sing… which is nice.
[Chuckling … cheering]
But, you know, it ain’t the same without – without our dear old Fred you know … it ain’t the same and it’s never gonna be the same so it’s always gonna be a matter of debate and you know, whatever you do in this life, I mean it’s particular more conspicuous you are, the more stuff you do, the more you get divided opinion. Some people say “Wonderful, wonderful!”, and some people will hate you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: … The British Press?
Yeah, yeah – normally. [Laughing]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is there a usable British robot on Mars? [Laughing]
I thought on those pictures that the Americans got, there might be a kind of little piece of wreckage someplace. [Laughing] It’s very sad, isn’t it? I hate to say it, but I didn’t think it was gonna work. [Laughing] I don’t know why. I just didn’t. You know, I saw the guy on TV saying this is gonna unfold, and this is gonna happen and the whole thing is gonna crash into the surface of Mars, and then I thought … but there you go, it’s not for me to say. I’m, I’m sad, and you know, they may get it working hopefully…. [tails off]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What’s your favourite song you’ve ever written? . . . Mine is Sail Away Sweet Sister?
Ah thank you. Uh yeah… I’m fond of Sail Away Sweet Sister, thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I like ’39.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Last Horizon…
[Audience all agree – Laughing]
My favourite song is the one I haven’t written yet, which will be the best song in the world. [Laughing]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Will there be a DTS version of Queen II?
It’s very much on the cards. We’ have been talking about Queen II.
[Inaudible audience comment]
Thank you. Yeah. It’s nice to make a non-commercial decision. [inaudible] . . . Yeah it would be fascinating to do.
The problem with some of that old stuff is that we don’t have every single master tape. I think Queen II we might just about be alright. You know archiving’s a real problem – things fall to bits and they disappear. There is no master tape for, for instance, God Save The Queen – it’s a multi track that I did. So if anyone finds it, please let us know. It disappeared.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Brian, I’m coming to see you tomorrow at the University of Hertfordshire.
Ah – God !!!!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Are you playing a little bit tomorrow?
Yes I probably will play tomorrow. What the hell am I gonna play tomorrow? [laughs] Oh alright, same again. [laughing]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Question about who taught Brian to play guitar.
QUESTION NOT HEARD….
Who taught me to play the guitar? My dad really taught me the basics, cos he taught me how to play the ukulele banjo, which is a little instrument that looks like a banjo but much smaller, has 4 strings like a ukulele. It’s a George Formby instrument. George Formby in the 20’s, who made it famous. My dad taught me, I don’t know, about 8 to 10 chords on the ukulele and I adapted them when I got a guitar. I asked for a guitar for my seventh birthday and I was lucky enough to get one.
I just discovered, the guitar I got for my seventh birthday was a thing called an Egmond Frere model – French… Belgian actually – Belgian guitar – and I think cost about £3.50. And apparently George Harrison had exactly the same thing. I never ever knew until his model was sold at auction a couple of weeks ago, for how much?… like a quarter of a MILLION pounds or something…. [Laughing]… was paid for this guitar. Unbelievable – so I’m open to offers. I’m not actually. I’ll never parting with that guitar.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is your favourite film still A Clockwork Orange?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [repeats question] Is your favourite film still A Clockwork Orange?
No, no, my favourite film isn’t . . . Did I say that at one time? What did I say my favourite colour was? [More laughing] Nah – I didn’t – I think my favourite film is… It’s difficult to say really … I love that film where the guy wakes up every day and it looks the same.
AUDIENCE: Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day. Yeah. I like that. I like films that teach you to live your life a little better. I really enjoy that film. Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Will Furia come out over here?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: The French film that you . . .
BM: Furia… I doubt it will come out over here. It will remain a collector’s item… until they do the ‘Brian May Boxed Set’, [audience laughs] which will bore everyone to death. [Laughing]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can we buy the DTS of The Game yet?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can we buy the DTS of The Game yet?
BM: It is out. It’s difficult to find. No one knows why . . . it’s out there. Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Brian… [from back]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [a little inaudible] Is playing guitar difficult?
I don’t think playing guitar is. Is playing guitar difficult?
A mixed answer here. I think it’s not…, no, I don’t think it is hard to play, you know if you pick it up every day and it becomes your friend – you’re just gonna become a guitarist. There’s no way around it. It’s difficult to be a good guitarist. I’m still trying, believe me…
Some people like Steve Vai, and some people like Eddie Van Halen, like Joe Satriani. And I think . . . [inaudible] practice. But the great thing about the guitar is that all of us somehow and it’s a mystery, it’s a mystery. All of us some how get a bit of our personality to the guitar. Everyone I’ve ever seen pick up a guitar, who knows anything at all about it, has a particular style and their personality comes through. I think it’s to do with elasticity of the strings or something. I’m not gonna get highly technical [audience laughs] but there is something about it. You know, the harder you hit the guitar, the angrier it sounds. You know, the harder you squeeze things up, you know, the pitch thing goes . . . So it’s a very expressive instrument. I’d say, if you fancy it and can get into it – you’ll become a guitarist.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Any chance of the Brian May Band again?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [repeats the question] Any chance of the Brian May Band, or is that…?
Brian May Band? No I don’t feel at all like a Brian May Band person at the moment. I seem to be wearing my . . . [tails off] [laughing]
Almost, I guess, against my will, the [soft or sort – indistinct] of umbrella of Queen always draws me back in and I spent a lot of time really struggling really hard to be free of Queen and now I’ve sort of given in and I accept the fact Queen will always be a part of me and I will always be a part of it. And for a lot of the work that we do, I guess we get to a wider audience if we do call it Queen, which is a very nice thing and all the channels that we worked so hard to open up in the early days we can use… so.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What will you do about your video of the Albert Hall . . . [inaudible] ?
It never came out. I mean, it may do one day.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do you still practice your scales? [laughing]
No – I don’t practice the scales. [laughing] I should do, shouldn’t I. See, that’s what I should do – you see, if I want to be like Steve Vai, I would practice my scales. I don’t know.
I don’t play the guitar every day either. I just pick it when I want so that’s my sort of… well… I’ve never picked up a guitar as a chore, as something I have to practice. It’s always been something that I love to pick up because it makes me feel good and I think it should stay that way. I recommend that to anyone. Let the guitar be your friend. Don’t ever let it be something . . . [inaudible]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Any chance of appearing with the guy from We Will Rock You?
Tony Vincent? Tony Vincent’s gone back to New York for the time being, cos he’s chiselling out his own solo career. You know, we may do something together at some time. I’m in touch with him all the time. We e-mail each other all the time. I don’t know. [Chuckles]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How are you today Brian?
[laughs] How am I? That’s a very nice question. I’m very good thank you. I’m very happy and grateful and blessed and stuff. I can’t believe what happened to me over all these years really. I can’t believe I’m standing here in front of all you guys and you actually wanna listen.
I have this recurring nightmare where I go on stage and it’s a big, packed place. It’s like Wembley Stadium or something, you know. And I start playing with the guys, and I think Fred’s there. Everyone’s there. Most of my dreams Freddie’s still alive – it’s very odd – it doesn’t seem odd to me. So I have this dream when we are out there and we start playing and gradually people go [tilts his head one side, then the other] like that and then they kinda drift out [laughing] and in the end there’s no one left. [More laughing] There’s just us on stage and we go ‘Ah well. Whatever.’ And we just play. It’s very strange feeling…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Are you naked?
Yeah, we’re naked as well. [Laughter] I should probably wrap it up.
Thank you for coming and keep coming to Barry’s store please, ‘cos Barry’s one of the good guys and we love him. He’s been fantastic with us.
Good luck with your guitar playing and lots of love.
From Audience…. BRIAN MAY!!!!
BARRY MOORHOUSE: Just before Brian does leave us, I think there’s a possibility he may sign a couple of autographs. I’ve got a couple of things that I’d actually like to, just to give to him. We were very privileged in the last few years actually to do a project with Brian where we financed, marketed and licensed the Burns Brian May guitar, and hopefully Brian would agree it’s been a very successful project and we were privileged, through Future Music who publish ‘Total Guitar’ and ‘Guitarist’, to win ‘Guitar of the Year’ and I’d liKe to give Brian that award.
Guitar of the Year Award.
[APPLAUDS AND CHEERING]
BARRY MOORHOUSE: And finally, one gets a lot of recommendations and strange referrals in this business from time to time. Anyway just before Christmas I got a phone call from a lady who said, and the call came into the office, and said there’s a lady here been recommended to you from the famous TV personality and astronomer, Patrick Moore. I went ‘OK’…. You know, today’s sort of lucky one. And anyway, the lady wanted an E-bow. Couldn’t get one anywhere on the South Coast so we despatched one to her immediately and – Brian obviously knows this, nodding about it – but I didn’t sort of connect initially, so I then started to talk to the lady, ‘How did Patrick Moore recommend us?’ And she said: ‘Me, Patrick Moore, Brian May, Astronomy.’ And I thought ‘Ah’. Brian May, Brian had said ‘Contact these guys’. Fortunately, the E-Bow was on its way immediately.
So, you know, we’ve had a very good relationship with Brian. He’s helped us out. Been involved in the MI side of the industry, which a lot of people other than my late friend, John Entwistle, do not do. These two guys do. We thought we’d like to present him with something that combines both of his passions in life, so we’re gonna give him back one of his Brian May Signature models, [audience laughter] but with a few constellations on it.
[CHEERING AND CLAPPING – Barry presents guitar with lights on fretboard.]
Barry presents a rather pleased looking Brian, with neon lit guitar
BRIAN : I’ll expect Pete to. . . [inaudible]
Ladies and Gentlemen – a big thank you – MR BRIAN MAY.