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**Wed 18 Jan 17**
See also LSC
**Mon 09 Jan 17**
Brian May CBE PhD FRAS - born 1947
Founding member of Queen and one of the world's great rock guitarists, Brian May is also an astrophysicist, co-authoring Bang! The Complete History of The Universe with Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott. Another passion is stereoscopy. and with photo-historian Elena Vidal he has written A Village Lost and Found, an annotated tour of the 1850s series of stereo photographs by T.R. Williams, as seen in the recent RWA
ART MAGAZINE: What is your most treasured possession?
BRIAN MAY: It would probably be the Red Special, the guitar my father and I made together when I was eighteen. I’ve been playing it for a considerable number of years. I designed it originally because I couldn’t afford a guitar, but also because I wanted a guitar that would sing.
All guitars in those days were designed not to have feedback, but I wanted to make one that would have feedback and, either by luck or by design, it worked. It sings; it has a certain voice to it. I like to build up layers of sound, using the guitar as part of an orchestra.
Which guitarist initially influenced you the most?
I think we all loved Hank Marvin, but at that point in my life I looked around for everything I could find: from Segovia and Julian Bream to Charlie Byrd, Django Reinhardt and Chet Atkins. Ricky Nelson's Hello, Mary Lou has this wonderful solo with a bending of the notes that really got me. The guitarist was James Burton; he created this amazing effect where the guitar seemed to talk to you, and that's what really fired me up. His playing had the same emotional qualities as a singer would have.
Rock guitarist, astro-physicist and wildlife campaigner. Which is most important to you?
I'm still trying to figure that out. More and more I'm feeling that my destiny is to try to make a difference for animals. We are animals, and part of it is recognising that fact; I’d like to see us try to treat each other better. But surely it’s not too much to ask that we treat all species on this planet decently. That's my starting point. It's something I feel very strongly about, especially as we have a government at the moment which is completely unfriendly to animals - wrong about badgers and wrong about fox-hunting. They seem to want to hurl us back into previous centuries as far as treatment of animals is concerned. We need to ride up and say that we are not going to put up with it.
If you could own just one piece of art, what would it be?
You know, the funny thing is I don't feel the need to own art. I’ve been through that. I like the fact that art can be experienced by everybody, as part of a conversation. There was a time when I was trying to possess everything, and then I realised that wasn't necessary. The great thing is to be some kind of appreciator, which means you are getting the message, and then a communicator, which means you are passing the message on, becoming part of the conversation.
If you could spend one day with any figure from the past, who would that be?
It would probably be T.R. Williams, the man who took the stereo photographs in Scenes in Our Village. I feel that he was such a pivotal artist. He was massively influential during the period that he worked and then became largely forgotten. I am very proud of the fact that I've managed to channel him back into the 21st Century, because I think his contribution is terribly important. To me, he spans art, science and humanity. That's crucial to me. I think he's a great example of the way that an artist should be, or indeed the way that a human being should be.
**Sun 08 Jan 17**
FROM ARCHIVES: Brian News, Mon 12 Jan 2004:
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
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...
MAY AT HOUSE OF GUITARS
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 fulfill 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]
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….
It seems to be working anyway. [Clapping and whistling]
- (continues Amazing Grace in style of slow Hammer to Fall)
[Clapping and cheering]
You're very kind. Thank you. I know all of you can play a lot better than
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.
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… [Laughing]
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 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.
[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.]
BRIAN : I’ll expect Pete to. . . [inaudible]
Ladies and Gentlemen - a big thank you - MR BRIAN MAY.
FANS' PHOTO GALLERY
**Sun 01 Jan 17**
THE TWENTY-FIFTH anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death in 2016 was a significant landmark for rock fans but for guitarist Brian May the flamboyantly talented Queen singer is never far away...
“I think about Freddie a lot,” he says. “He’s very much in our lives and in a very positive way.”
Indeed, just a week before he spoke to the Sunday Express – to mark the release of a new double album, Air Guitar Anthems, which he has helped collate – he attended the cremation of Freddie’s Indian-born mother, Jer Bulsara, who had died at the age of 94. Brian had known Mrs Bulsara for 50 years and paid fulsome tribute on his website to a much-loved mother whom Freddie took “mischievous pleasure” in trying to shock.
The ceremony had left him in a deeply reflective mood.
“I went along and I think I felt like I was saying goodbye to Freddie again because he was very much there in spirit and of course very much talked about,” he says. “They played Queen music throughout, along with these incredibly ancient Persian incantations, so it was a very moving experience.”
Brian says that when Queen play live they still like to keep Freddie as “part of the show” but not “rely” on him too much. "We have Adam (Lambert, the band’s singer in recent years), who’s an incredible performer in his own right. But you know Freddie is part of the creation of all that material and we like to have him appearing now and then to sprinkle some fairy dust on it all.”
The most vivid musical reminder of Freddie’s talents, the epic Bohemian Rhapsody, is the opening track on the Air Guitar Anthems album. It trips so easily from baroque pop to opera to heavy metal, oozing with charm and style every step of the way that it feels, in some way, like a happy accident.
“It was actually all very planned and deliberate and came totally out of Freddie’s fevered imagination!” laughs Brian. “It was a happy accident in that we were there as a group to interpret it but at the core of it there’s an amazing concept and Freddie really did marshal it into great shape. I still love it, it never grows old.”
On Air Guitar Anthems, Queen is in the company of a number of tracks that are not only equally influential but also rarely found on compilations, including the Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up and Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. Their inclusion is partly due to 69-year-old Brian making a series of persuasive phone calls.
“I like the idea that these collections are cross-generational and introduce a lot of people, especially young people, to serious rock guitar for the very first time,” says Brian. “But record companies, especially these days, are usually quite loath to part with their tracks, or even lend them, so my usefulness is that I can ring up people like Joe Elliott (from Def Leppard) or Slash (from Guns N’ Roses) and say, ‘How about lending this particular song?’ and usually they go, ‘Yeah’, and I say, ‘Well, just nudge your record company, will you?’”
It has also put him back in touch with fellow musicians. “I’m a bit reclusive, really,” he laughs, “and I tend not to make these phone calls unless there’s a reason so it encourages me to get back in touch with a lot of dear friends in the business.”
God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols is also included which might seem a little ironic. Weren’t they the punk upstarts who were supposed to sweep away “rock dinosaurs” like Queen?
“Well, they were by some people, I think,” says Brian. “But I remember hearing God Save The Queen and buzzing Roger (Taylor, Queen drummer) and saying, ‘This is something people are really going to enjoy. “No matter what the hype is around punk, this is good stuff’.
They were great players with something to say.
“Strangely enough, the Sex Pistols were in the same studio as us when we were doing the News Of The World album and I used to bump into John Lydon and he was always very respectful to me. I didn’t get any feelings of resentment or whatever. There are some funny stories about Freddie meeting Sid Vicious, though. Sid came in while we were mixing something and he said to Freddie, ‘Aren’t you the guy who’s bringing ballet to the masses?’. And Freddie said, ‘Yes, and aren’t you Simon Ferocious!’. It was a fairly good-humoured exchange...”
There are similarly humorous exchanges between Mercury and former capital radio DJ Kenny Everett on a recent collection of Queen’s radio broadcasts, Queen On Air, revealing him to be a witty but also surprisingly shy interviewee.
“Freddie was shy, I think people forget that,” says Brian. “Right up to the very end there was that element in Freddie which was very endearing in a way because here’s this huge star and superhero but inside there’s still this young boy who was quite tentative. I think the cloak of power was very important to him. Someone asked me the other day what the legacy of Freddie was and I said I think the biggest thing you get from Freddie is he was saying, ‘You can do this too. You can be a small, shy person but you can still conquer the world if you really want it enough and you go for it’.”
In many ways Brian himself embodies that same determined spirit. Although he admits that a “persistent, mysterious illness” has curtailed his activities in recent weeks, forcing him to cancel tour dates with singer Kerry Ellis, there’s a sense that May’s questing mind can’t be stilled for long. He runs his own guitar-manufacturing company, producing replicas of his famously home-made Red Special guitar, and has also been pursuing his love of Victorian stereoscopic pictures with a book of 3D images of Queen taken on and off stage over the years. Then, of course, there is the huge energy he puts into campaigning for animal rights. He is inspired, he says, by the great Victorian polymaths.
“Most of those great Victorian scientists were significant artists as well as musicians,” he says. “But that notion was almost beaten out of us as kids. You were told you cannot be an artist and a scientist at the same time, you have to choose. I always resented that. I thought, ‘No, I can do what I want!’ To be a complete human being you need it all and you need other things too. You need to understand love and compassion too and unfortunately this country, in common with most countries in the world, is not run on compassion. It’s run on money and selfishness and greed. It makes me sound like an old curmudgeon, which I’m sure I am now, but I do look around and think, ‘My God, we have got most of our priorities wrong’. That’s why I do all this campaigning for animals. Why would we imagine that human beings are the only important species on the planet?”
Air Guitar Anthems is out now on Universal Music On Demand priced around £8. Order on AMAZON.co.uk
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