Brian May interview Good Morning Britain 23 Nov 2021
Brian’s interview on “Good Morning Britain Tuesday 23 November 2021
TRANSCRIPT by Jen Tunney
GMB: 30 years ago today the Queen legend, Freddie Mercury confirmed he had been diagnosed with AIDS, following intense speculation about his health. Freddie, who was the first major rock star to acknowledge having AIDS, tragically died at his home in London just 24 hours after that announcement. His friend and Queen lead guitarist, Brian May, joins us now.
Brian, I know This documentary is due to come out on the BBC this month and it takes us back to that moment and for Freddie to have this, hold this secret so close, and for you guys in the band to protect Freddie like that must been a very very difficult and challenging time for you all.
BRIAN MAY: Yeah, it was a hard time but it kind of united us as a family in a sense because we just completely closed ranks around Freddie and tried to make his life as easy as possible and trying to keep the harpies away and a lot of people kind of poking lenses through his windows and stuff. It was a horrible time for him and a lot of the time we went to Montreux particularly. Freddie actually lived in Montreux for a while. I just came back there from from there from visiting our dear Manager who’s still there and not very well, but Freddie had a lovely time that he was able to escape and, of course, we had the studio there so we could make music, and making music was Freddie’s life. He just loved it. He could insulate himself once he was in that environment and we had a fantastic time. Strangely enough is one of the most joyful times we ever had. Freddie seemed to be able to leave all the rest of it outside and just enjoy making his music.
GMB: We’ve already spoken this morning, and I don’t know if you saw Brian, but our UK News Editor, Paul Brand ,did this incredible piece of investigative work, tracking down and identifying, putting a name to the anonymous patient zero – the first person in the country to die of AIDS and how important that was in showing the stigma around AIDS back then and enabling his family to feel, to know, that he had even died of AIDS, because a lot of them didn’t even know. There was so much stigma around it at the time.
BRIAN: That’s right. Yes, it was a horrible thing because it stood in the way of dealing with it and and protecting humanity against the disease. If you see the demo, the documentary, a lot of it focuses on the fact that we did the Tribute Concert for Freddie to put him in his proper place but also to start the awareness that AIDS was a disease which affected everyone and we needed to unite against it and we made those first steps, or some of the first steps to get rid of that stigma, and the world move forward I think at that point and realise[d], “Yeah here’s something we have to fight against together”.
GMB: And so six months after his death you staged this incredible concert and during that you had incredible performances but one of those that’s highlighted is George Michael singing ‘Somebody to Love’, and an article in the Sunday Times says it was like a primal roar. George Michael had sold 100 million records and yet did not feel able to come out as a gay man. Years later he said it was the greatest performance of his career and the loneliest moment of his life.
BRIAN: Bless him. Yeah it’s terrible to think that he’s gone as well now, looking at that footage he was such a beautiful young man you know and the voice was incredible. I think it was a definite highlight of the night for us when his voice was coming out of that monitor system, so clear and so strong.
GMB: He was a wonderful performer and a wonderful guy, yeah, and it says something that even at that time it was hard for him to come out and be honest about his own sexuality.
BRIAN: Yeah, the times were very different. Times have changed so much and I’m glad – that’s the way it needed to be.
GMB: Brian, you’re known as a rock legend – of course your time with Queen. You’re an astronomer, you’re a publisher. I know you mostly want to be known for your animal activism, don’t you. Out of all of the things that you’ve done, what for you is the most important?
BRIAN: Yeah, to me, you know, I think on the day that I die I want to be able to look back and think that I did something to try and improve the way that humans treat the rest of the animals on this planet. I think it’s one of the great unspoken and unsolved problems really. We’re not very good at treating each other very well as a human race, but we are terrible in the way we exploit the other creatures on this planet and to me it’s a mission. I can only do it of course because I have the door open, but by Queen and by music and the other things that I do, but yeah it’s very important to me. I feel we have a terrible debt to pay back to the creatures of this planet and it’s time we started thinking about it and stopped destroying their habitat. To me that’s a big thing that we should be looking at. Global warming is a huge issue but it’s not the only issue. We are destroying the habitat of not only ourselves but all the other creatures and is going very fast and terrifyingly dangerous…
GMB: You’ve got a gas fire in the back of your room, Brian?
BRIAN: I have indeed – yes. It is always frosty here.
GMB: Is it an eco-friendly one?
BRIAN: I have no idea. It’s been there a while so it probably needs updating. Everything needs updating these days but it’s very nice. Yeah, I think it’s fine. I don’t think it’s having a big carbon footprint here because you can burn logs around here if you want but we don’t at the moment.
GMB: You’ve also, you’ve got, you know, we’ve already listed the incredible achievements that you have to your name. Adal[?] has an absolutely remarkable book in his hands. [“Stereoscopy – The Dawn Of 3-D”] Tell us about this Brian. You do, you have a beautiful book in your hands. Tell us all about it.
BRIAN: Yeah this, I have one as well strangely. Hey, there you go. There you go. Yes I was fortunate enough to get one. Yeah it’s a dream to have made this book. I didn’t write it – my wonderful researcher Denis Pellerin wrote it, but I spent a lot of time working with him on it because it’s been a dream of mine to actually put the record straight as to what stereoscopy is, where it came from, what 3-D is and how it relates and to try and dispel a lot of the myths that have come over the years. There’s a lot of inaccuracies, you know – fake news wasn’t born last year. Fake news existed for the Victorians as well and all kinds of people claimed credit for things which they shouldn’t have. So this is how stereoscopy was born, how we learned from Charles Wheatstone in 1832 that we need two eyes for a reason. We have two eyes for a reason because it gives us this depth perception of the world. Nobody figured it out in the Renaissance, which continually amuses me. No Leonardo da Vinci. They got perspective but they didn’t get stereopsis so to me this is magic and this is the book I wanted to put out for a long time and it’s published by my own London Stereoscopic Company, of which I’m very proud.
GMB: Fantastic, marvellous. Well we should all – that’s something in the, on the Christmas List I’m sure for many people this year as well….
I have to quickly mention quick – tickets maybe for your forthcoming tour. Is that going ahead?
BRIAN: The Rhapsody Tour for 2022 looking forward to it. It is. We’re resuming, yes we’re resuming in May. We’ll be rehearsing the beginning of May and going back out to take up that tour, which got postponed when COVID hit. Yeah, I mean it’s very much fingers crossed because we’re going all around Europe in theory, and who knows what the quarantine regulations and COVID situation will be in all those countries. I think we may take a couple of hits but hopefully in Britain we’ll be under control. We can do those. We do a number of dates at the O2 and some up and down the country.
I’m going to show you this as well because I finally have a paperback version of “Queen In 3-D”, so this is our other 3-D [shows new book: “Bang!! The Complete History of the Universe”], and I will be selling this on tour because I want to make money. [laughs]
GMB: What have you got – it’s a kind of crusade. Okay, okay – you can get the cookbook out now. We’ve got to tell you so much stuff, Brian. Have you got a cookbook, have you got a cookbook, tell me what?
BRIAN: I’ve got everything – got a whole library, you know it’s quite funny, I find myself, yeah, I find it odd that I’m selling stuff. But you know, it’s things that you believe in and I love it so[?] well. It would be lovely if stereoscopy made money but it doesn’t, but it’s a joy for me. It’s a crusade if you like.
GMB: Well it’s a joy for you – for us to have you join us on Good Morning Britain. Thanks very much, Brian. Good luck with everything, good luck with the tour and we’ll see you again very soon. Take care it’s lovely to see you. Still to come…