Brian is launching his ‘Gold Series’ solo catalogue with the classic 1992 album ‘Back To The Light’, which is being released on August 6th and wants to be DRIVEN BY YOU to help reach the highest chart placing possible!
Sign up to the BRI-ARMY mailing list HERE and grab this T-shirt "and for us all to get BACK TO THE LIGHT!!!”
Look out for more information on the quest, once you have signed up.
Back To The Light is released on August 6th on CD, Vinyl, Picture Disc Vinyl, Cassette, Digital Download & Streaming Formats
Yeah. The impetus from that came from Cozy and it was a gift from Heaven. I'm looking for something which expresses my need to try and find new life and suddenly Cozy comes in with this track, which he's made down at Mono Studios, his favourite place to make a big drum sound.
And he goes, “Brian - you want to play on this?” And it was going to be on his solo album. And I said, “Yeah, I'll do whatever you want.” And he said, “Well, do you want it for your solo album as well?” I went, “Yeah, that would be great.” So we shared everything.
You know, I listened to it this morning, and it really did kind of blow me away because it's it's so massive in scope, and it's so ridiculously ambitious from the point of view of singing as well as playing. I think that's the one I want on my tombstone, really. That's the one I want played at my funeral, probably. because it's irresistibly, forcefully, full of belief. It’s the kind of belief that you need to overcome the massive obstacles that get put in our way during our lives.
So I feel very proud of it. I love it. It's very uncompromising again. It's full of ridiculous hope and passion and belief and fireworks.
We made a video for it, Cozy and I, and there was fireworks and lots of flames and stuff. It was all like …. It's a kind of biblical intensity to it. I love it. I love the feel of it. I love the sound of it. And we really went to town on the overdubs. There's probably more overdubs on that than there is on Bohemian Rhapsody. Of course, there's only me. So there's a lot of work for me.
I was also pushing myself. It was a time when I wanted to know how far I could go. Suddenly I'm without Freddie. I'm trying to sing my own stuff. How far can I go? How high can I go? How intense can I go? How broad can I go in the vocals. So I kind of pushed myself till I bled when I doing these vocals - more and more - higher -harder and harder. and probably could never do that again. I don't think I could do that now, but I'm pleased with the place that I got to. It was the place I needed to get to at that time.
‘Resurrection’ is full of hope, full of belief. It was good to have that open book. Yeah - there was no expectation. There was no need to sound like Queen or the Brian May that was part of creating Queen, yeah. So it's a bit harder.
I used some different guitars as well. I used that Joe Satriani guitar for some of it - a big Metallic Joe Satriani guitar, and it's got a real bite to it, and yeah, there was no limit. And I'm tapping away, which I normally didn't do in Queen. Queen. It's very melodic, and although I had that sort of tapping thing in my vocabulary, there's not often a place to use it in Queen.
[Yes] - I just went for it all, and it's reaching for the sky in terms of pushing my guitar playing as well.
Brian May 'Back to the Light' Remastered Reissue Coming August 6, 2021.
**Fri 16 Jul 21**
PRESS RELEASE: RESURRECTION Direct link
Brian May announces re-release of his SECOND classic single and video
ahead of the remastered Back to the Light album
“It’s built on hope and passion and belief – and fireworks!!!”
Released on July 16, 2021
A live showstopper and a hard rock juggernaut, Brian May’s ‘Resurrection’ is also a seismic testament to the combined power of determination and restorative, collaborative friendship.
Brian May’s classic RESURRECTION is a monstrous Tour de Force. With its ferocious momentum, full force drums, multi-stacked harmonies and soaring guitar heroics, ‘Resurrection’ is considered by some fans THE standout cut from May’s 1992 solo album, ‘Back to the Light’. Performed live by The Brian May Band, ‘Resurrection’ would feature as the centrepiece of May’s epic ‘Guitar Extravagance’ sequence, holding its own alongside the explosive rock climax of Queen’s revered ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Issued as a single in 1993, ‘Resurrection’ arrived in the UK Singles Chart accompanied by a video of notably – in May’s words – “biblical intensity”.
Yet the song’s origins were deeply personal rather than cosmic. The lyrics reflect May’s battle to find a sense of purpose and selfhood again during a period of mammoth personal upheaval. In its development, a close friend and bandmate would prove crucial. The backing track for the song appears in a different form as an instrumental titled ‘Ride To Win’ on the late, much-missed drummer Cozy Powell’s 1992 album, “The Drums Are Back”. As May explains it, “We traded contributions!”
“The impetus came from Cozy and it was a gift from Heaven. I'm looking for something which expresses my need to try and find new life, and suddenly Cozy comes in with the track he's made down at Mono Studios, his favourite place to achieve his signature massive drum sound. He said, ‘What do you think of this, Brian, you want to play on this for me?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do whatever you want.’ And he said, ‘Well, do you want it for your solo album as well?’ I went, ‘Yeah, that would be great,’ so we shared everything. And immediately I was inspired to write ‘Resurrection’.”
With keyboards from seasoned rock session musician Don Airey, May and Powell set out to give the song their all. For May, this entailed testing his abilities as a vocalist after the loss of Queen legend Freddie Mercury. “We really went to town on the overdubs,” says Brian.
“There's probably more overdubs on it than there is on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’! I was also pushing myself. It was a time when I wanted to know how far I could go. Suddenly I'm without Freddie. I'm trying to sing my own stuff. How high can I go? How intense can I go? How broad can I go in the vocals? I don't think I could do that now, but I'm pleased with the place that I got to. It was the place I needed to get to at that time.”
As May says today of his fight to hit those difficult top D notes, “I can still hardly believe I got that far – I made myself bleed doing it.” And he didn’t stop there. Even with some of the most innovative, adventurous and iconic guitar work in rock history behind him already, May also found ways to stretch the reach of his playing.
“I used that Joe Satriani guitar for some of it -the big, metallic Joe Satriani guitar. It’s got a real bite to it. There was no limit and I'm tapping away, which I normally didn’t do in Queen. Queen is very melodic and although I had that sort of tapping thing in my vocabulary, there's not often a place to use it in Queen. I just went for it all, and it's reaching for the sky in terms of pushing my guitar playing as well. The track also features a short but very intense Powell drum break - which - surprisingly - was recorded in my ‘French Room’ in my home studio. Cozy also pushed himself to the limit.”
Remastered from the best available source for the reissue, the video is wild, unfettered and cathartic. Shot in Los Angeles, around the time of The Brian May Band’s show at the Palace Theatre on April 6, 1993, the video boasts then state-of-the-art computer graphics, with May and Powell blazing away amid roaring fires and exploding planets. “I collaborated with the H-Gun [Labs] team,” says May,
“to make a clip which took the track into a different universe, partly just because we could - but also, I guess, for me to express in metaphor the extreme psychological battle going on in my head which gave birth to the song. Cozy and I spent a day surrounded by chemical bonfires in a film studio in LA – being hooligans and heroes and having great fun.”
Speaking of the song today, May stands by its maximalist methods and message.
“That's the one I want played at my funeral, probably, because it's irresistibly, forcefully full of belief. It's the kind of belief that you need to overcome the massive obstacles that get put in our way during our lives. I feel very proud of it.”
‘Resurrection’ is available to download and stream from July 16.
Brian May’s “Back to the Light” remastered reissue is available on August 6 on CD, Vinyl, Cassette, digital download and streaming formats and can be pre-ordered here: https://BrianMay.lnk.to/BackToTheLight
**Tue 13 Jul 21**
BRIAN HON FELLOWSHIP ROYAL HOLLOWAY - THEN HOME TO FLOOD Direct link
YESTERDAY, 12 JULY, Brian May, along with Anita Dobson and his photo-archivist/co-author, Denis Pellerin, visited the Royal Holloway College, to attend "a very nice and heart-warming intimate ceremony".
At a private, sociall distaned conferal ceremony Brian was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Royal Holloway in recognition of his contribution to the preservation of Victorian Stereoscopic photography, which has given insight into Victorian art and culture, and his collaboration with Royal Holloway’s Art Collection team.
Denis Pellerin was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature Honoris Causa of the University of London [an Hon Doctorate] .
Much gratitude to the Royal Holloway for the honours and also enabling Stereoscopy to be acknowledged and honoured.
Denis Pellerin said: "This is a major step in the recognition of stereoscopy as a valuable branch of photography and as an important source of information. We could not be prouder!"
A great day out.
However, on returning home to London to a “house of horrors”, Brian and Anita found that after flash floods, the basement of their home was awash with foul water and raw sewage and many items of memorabilia and treasured photos were now sodden and spoilt.
Brian spoke of his “heartbreak” after flash floods damaged his Kensington home, ruining treasured belonging - both his own and also those of Anita. He said it felt like an invasion. “The whole bottom floor had been inundated with a sewage overflow - which has covered our carpets, rugs and all kinds of precious (to us) things in a stinking sludge.”
** Sat 10 Jul 21**
LSC BOOK OF THE MONTH 'SIGNED' OFFER - JULY Direct link
London Stereoscopic "Book of the Month" continue this month, with a 'signed' offering !!!!
GEORGE WASHINGTON WILSON Artist and Photographer (1823-93) + Signed Bookplate
- also available at a special an offer price - without the signed bookplate. LINK TO OFFERS
This offer includes a Signed Bookplate
[The bookplate is signed by both Dr Brian May and author Professor Roger Taylor]
Please note - this is NOT the Roger Taylor from Queen
The book traces the life and work of the Aberdeen photographer, George Washingotn Wilson, and contains fascinating insights into life, centered on Aberdeen, in Victorian times.
Released and launched with a talk by Brian May and the author Professor Roger Taylor, at the Edinburgh Book festival, 15 August 2018, and contains a Foreword written by Brian.
This beatiful book contains incredibly rare pictures restored by Brian May and Professor Roger Taylor, an expert on Victorian photography and Wilson's work. He is the author although Brian May is the publisher and has also written the foreword.
George Washington Wilson was a leading landscape photographer of the 19th century and Scotland’s greatest stereo photographer. His technical and aesthetic innovations created some of the period’s most captivating 3-D photographs and established his reputation internationally.
An early commission to photograph the construction of Balmoral Castle led to a number of significant private commissions for Queen Victoria and members of the Royal Family, and in 1873 came the formal appointment of “Photographer to the Queen”.
Professor Roger Taylor, the world authority on Wilson, traces his career, captures the essence of the man and presents a glorious gallery of his work, from striking images of the Scottish countryside to portraits of royals.
This book contains over eighty 3-D stereo cards which can be viewed with the enclosed Lite OWL viewer. Brian May has written the introduction to this book.
Pages: 208 Size [mm]: 317 x 240 x 18 Publication date: 15th August, 2018
8th July - Brian was in Selsey, East Sussex today to unveil a unique seal sculpture, to commemorate his dear late friend, Sir Patrick Moore, former resident of the town.
For more of Brian's pictures from the day's event - please see SOAPBOX.
Selsey was once known as Seal Island so Seals are their 'brand'. A public art trail has been developed with each Seal (around 6ft in length) being themed. For example, one celebrating the Selsey Pavillion, a very old, interesting theatrical venue, [one] wildlife, in which bug houses have been incorporated into the design and of course, one celebrating Sir Patrick. The designs have been done by media and art students at the local College, curated and guided by Pamela Howard, a notable scenographer and international artist. A working telescope forms part of the Seal dedicated to Sir Patrick with a QR code linking to information about him and hopefully encouraging young people to take up astronomy... situated by the beach where there is no light pollution.
A memorial to Sir Patrick had been wanted for a while but it was felt important to have something which would be 'active. Sir Patrick's memory lives on and it is hoped he can continue to encourage children and young people to look to the stars!
Queen are already one of Absolute Radio’s Top 10 most played artists
Brian May was in conversation with Leona Graham on Saturday 3rd July Midday on Absolute Classic Rock - Album Of The Week with Danielle Perry and Absolute Radio’s Chris Martin
- Leona Graham played two songs and two Brian May clips on each of her Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 July 10AM shows (four clips and songs Total) on Absolute Radio - More activity on Absolute 80s and Absolute Classic Rock - an hour special (full interview) with Brian May on Tuesday night 6 July at 10pm
LEONA GRAHAM: Brian May, how does it feel to be 50?
BRIAN MAY: I’d like to be just 50, Yeah. … I could wake up one morning - Oh I’m only 50. No it's funny. We've sort of been avoiding the issue. The record company and everybody was saying to us, “Are you going to make a big deal of your 50th anniversary of Queen?”, and we thought really isn't going to just remind people how old we are you know maybe we should just celebrate the fact that we're here and we can still perform sometimes when situations allow you know and just not really do the 50th thing but I think we've kind of slid into it because everybody wants to talk about it including you which is fine.
LEONA: First of all, the Greatest Hits now that is 40, and this has hit many statistics - 22 times Platinum. I mean this album is massive. How does it feel to have the UK’s biggest selling album of all time?
BRIAN: It’s amazing. I have to pinch myself, I have to say. Yes it is the biggest album of all time in this country and - yeah I suppose I didn't take it seriously for a while but it's stayed up there for so long and it's so far ahead of everything else. There's some great stories about it. What's that thing, is it - I forget where. W hat happens is there's a guy in his car and he says every cassette which is left in a car for more than five years becomes Queen's Greatest Hits or something. I forget where that comes from. It made me laugh.
LEONA: Well think it's one in every four households has got the “Greatest Hits” that's one of the statistics
BRIAN: That's amazing, yeah.
LEONA: I mean what was it like choosing the songs for this back in 1981?
BRIAN: Well it wasn't that difficult because it's just the hits and it is only a 10-year period. it's amazing that we accrued that kind of catalogue of bona fide hits. Most people's greatest hits are like - “yeah we've got a couple but we're gonna throw a few things in which are kind of, kind of could have been hits” - but this is all gold-plated chart material, so it's easy. You just put the biggest ones in and that was it and then we went on and we did “Greatest Hits II” and “Greatest Hits III”, all of which have done great and we had the “Platinum Collection”, which is all three of them together, so it's done amazingly well. But the “Greatest Hits I” is something very special, yeah, and every track you listen to you think. “Oh yeah”.
LEONA: Starting out what was it like? Did you always believe in the band when you were beginning?
BRIAN: You know, Leona, it's a curious thing. There's levels to it, I think. On the top level we were precocious boys. We thought we were better than anyone else and we thought, yeah, we just need a chance and we'll break through and we will conquer the world. Underneath that there's a massive insecurity because we didn't know anyone, we had no contacts, we couldn't get gigs because we didn't have a record out. We couldn't make a record because we weren't getting the gigs. so you're in this terrible sort of inverse Catch-22 situation where you think, “How on Earth do we do this? Is there any chance on Earth?” And you're taking a massive jump when you actually become what my Dad used to call a “pop star”, you know, when you decide you're going to do this thing. It's a huge jump because the chances of you failing are enormous so you're throwing up, you're throwing up everything - all the chances that you have in normal life if you like, for this very small chance of breaking through as a recording artist and a touring artist and - yeah - we had great dreams, but looking back on it we weren't prepared except musically. We had our stuff together - we had it in our heads and we had we had huge dreams. But yeah, as I say, it's on levels because on one level, “Yes, we can do this”. On the other level you're thinking “No, there's no chance - we must be mad”.
LEONA: Was Freddie always the confident commanding front man from from the outset?
BRIAN: Well you see, Freddie's different levels too, because on one level, yes, he was always a Rock Star, and if you'd seen him in Kensington Market going around sort of ‘pomming’ anyone he met and just generally - I don't know what you call it these days - but being a flower, you know - being a very confident kind of … - I mean he behaved as if he was Robert Plant at the time and nobody minded because he just had that kind of aura about him, but underneath it, no, massive insecurities, massive shyness, which was always with him right to the end. He had a very private side to him, Freddie, and he faced up to his insecurities by building himself in the way that he wanted to be. He’s a very self-made creature is Freddie, and if you peeled off all the layers of the onion you'd find a lot of complexity, a lot of it which he denied which is smart I think. People would say you know, “Is your music important Freddie”, and he’d say, “No. It’s just tomorrow's fish and chip paper. I don't think my songs are worth anything”, but underneath that, yes of course he felt he had stuff to say - and also the obliqueness of some of his early lyrics. it's very fantasy. It’s very kind of fairies and ghouls and goblins and things but underneath it, even at that time, there's a lot of personal meaning in those lyrics I think, and that’s not something we ever talked about. We didn't do that in Queen but i feel it very strongly. Freddie was always expressing himself in rather daring ways and inside was this rather insecure person but on the outside was a warrior that he was building himself into.
LEONA: What is it about Queen's music that has appealed to so many generations and do you think the film has helped bring it to a new generation?
BRIAN: Yes it definitely has. There's a lot of truth in the film. We obviously, we didn't make the film. We were like the Uncles of the film if you like, but we spent years looking at scripts and trying to figure out how we would do Freddie justice without overblowing him and without sort of fantasising. The boys who played us were incredible.
LEONA: Amazing. Weren't they just mind-blowingly good.
BRIAN: Rami’s outstanding and Gwilym, who played me even fooled my kids when they saw it. They said. “Oh you must have done the voice, Dad”. I went, “No no - he did that
LEONA: Even your own children!
BRIAN: Yeah it is insane, yeah, and they’ve become great friends and yeah and Graham King,, our producer was outstandingly brave in steering the whole thing through because it was very difficult. We had all kinds of problems as you probably know including a director who went off the rails, if you like.
LEONA: Yeah I mean i've read about it over the years and was always giving updates on my show and when it did actually come about I was like I can't believe it's happening now. It must have been like that for you.
BRIAN: Yeah, it was came close to not happening. It was all called off at one point and then we managed to put it back on the rails and everybody who had been effectively laid off came back and said ,“We want to make this film. We love it and we believe in it”. So it was an amazing feeling of teamwork on that, film apart from the boys and the actors and the people that you see.
I think we owe a lot also to the writers - Peter Morgan wrote the first draft. Peter Morgan as known, the writer and producer of “The Crown”, who's an amazing talent and he cracked in my opinion, he cracked what the meaning of the film was. He said this is a film about family. The group is like a family. It is a family and the story is that Freddie is that member that family who feels a little bit constrained by the family - has to get out and prove himself - flex his muscles. When he gets out and has basically rejected the family, he finds actually he does want the family. He wants to go back in and he doesn't know how to get back in and eventually the family does come back together. He said that's the story of your film and I think he's right.
LEONA: What's your favourite one off that album?
BRIAN: Oh it's very - do you know … I don't know if I do have favourites. I mean if I was being very kind of
allowing myself to be partisan, probably ‘We Will Rock You’, because it sort of says everything in a short time and it's something which has always worked for us. It had to battle its way through to even be on there because that's one of the questionable things you could say well it wasn't like a number one hit in the UK. No it wasn't - it was on the B-side of ‘We Are The Champions’, but mostly around the world both tracks were radio singles and did very well and ‘We Will Rock You’ was I think a bona fide a number one in in France, which is nice, but yeah you could say, but ‘We Will Rock You’ has been with us for so long and has done so much for us then I suppose. And it says a lot about what I had to say at the time. It says a lot I think still about Humanity - [Over music] the way I see it anyway. So yeah, okay ‘We Will Rock You’.
LEONA: That’s a good choice. That's an excellent choice. Which songs were hits that you didn't expect and which went the opposite way?
BRIAN: Ah interesting. Well every time we made an album it was an album. It was a piece. That was the way things were in those days. We didn't just make tracks. We were conscious that we were trying to build an album which people could put on and listen to from beginning to end and have some kind of journey. In those days it was … there were two sides to it, so you listened to the first side, then you turned your vinyl over and listen to the second side. So we were very conscious of that and when it comes to taking a single of it, which is of course the flagship of the whole thing, and that's where you're going to get your radio play, it was always difficult. because you unbalance the whole thing as one track becomes massive around the world - becomes stitched into people's lives and the rest of tracks don't and that can be disappointing, especially if you wrote those tracks, because the tracks you wrote are your babies you. So, for instance, like ‘Long Away’, `I always thought was a single and I thought it was. It actually was released some place as a single - I think, in the Outer Hebrides, I don't know. Buy basically it didn't become a middle of the… a mainstream single, so people don't really know it and I would like it if they had. I would like it if that was part of people's lives along the way. And now people often say to me , “Wasn't that a single ? Shouldn't it have been a single”, and I went, “Well it just didn't happen because other things happened”.
BRIAN MAY: So staring at you quite convincingly…. Yeah, the marvels of Zoom.
SIMON: Yes, yes - it's Zoom and “Queen's Greatest Hits” is being reissued in assorted formats. Fiftieth anniversary year - I mean this crazy. Before we get to any of that, have you found this period of lockdown, have you found it creative? Have you found it interesting to sort of be at home with your musical instruments and composing? Have you found it enormously frustrating?
BRIAN MAY: It’s kind of all of those things really. It caught me by surprise I suppose. Having said that I did get busy, yeah. Whenever I could I got online and I did these “Jam With Bri” things, which did very well. I just sat there and played the guitar and asked people to play along with me on Instagram, so the Instagram became my kind of performance platform and I enjoyed it.
We also did a... I started off a thing for Queen. We did a new other champions - I’m cutting a very long story short, but I started off doing that with the guitar. Roger played drums, Adam did some singing and eventually we made it into a record. So that was very early in the lockdown and we showed that it could be done. To be honest I have found it frustrating that, particularly the first lockdown period, I didn't go anywhere. I couldn't get to my studio. I couldn't get to the place where I do all my stuff.
I couldn't get to see my kids. I couldn't see my grandchildren. It was really really bad, you know, but I’m not alone. Everybody's been finding this, but that was hard for me especially coming off a big tour where like the world is your oyster. We were out in Korea and Japan and Australia, and then to come back to that and be sitting in a house and be stuck, it was very tough. But we've all had a tough time, yeah, and I think we're a little bit… we're beginning to see the light now.
SIMON: And so re-released in new formats. It's crazy that we're even talking about it to promote it, because this is - I do the Album Show on Sunday afternoon and a number of times referred to the fact this is the UK’s biggest selling album of all time - SO think it's something like one in four households has got a copy of this album is that? Is that right?
BRIAN: That's right - it's insane - isn't it - yeah. I never realised it would get to this kind of height. Yeah amazing, yeah. The biggest of all time - so great - we're thrilled we really are. It's great to be current - just to feel that you're part of life it is a great feeling.
SIMON: Forty years since its original release. I mean the stats are just mind-boggling. I mean I mentioned that you know one in four households has copy. It’s gone Platinum 22 times, 900 weeks on the album chart and it's an omnipresent. It's just something that is always there. No album collection is complete unless you've got "Queen's Greatest Hits".
BRIAN: That's right. I love that quote about every CD that stays in a car for more than a year turns into “Queen's Greatest Hits”. I forget where that comes from. I should know where that comes from but it makes me laugh. It is great. I mean it's the ultimate compliment for an artist really I think, to be sewn into people's lives to that extent and I often talk to people about ‘We Will Rock You’, for instance, and people don't really realise that anybody wrote that, which I think is kind of the ultimate compliment. It's like it's always been there. It’s part of our lives. So it feels great, and we all feel the same. I know Roger feels exactly the same, you know. We have that privilege of actually being triggers in people's lives, which will always be the case as long as this generation, all these generations, are around that will be the case. I feel very proud of what we managed to do.
SIMON: I wonder with ’We Will Rock You’, whether it's people can't imagine that that rhythm track, that feels as though it's always been with us you know ,and it's quite likely if you if you're watching a football match that the crowd are just gonna start doing exactly that rhythm track, isn't it? I mean that's the amazing timeless nature of it.
BRIAN: That's right, yeah. It was the simplest thing I could think of at the time that a crowd could do together and it was one of our live shows where people were all crammed in and wanted to participate and I thought, “What can they do?” They can stamp, they can clap and they can sing a simple kind of mantra that ‘We Will Rock You’ is something simple for people to sing. It's also something inspiring I think, because it's something that brings people togethe. So yeah, I'm so happy that that became part of not just sporting life but life in general for people.
SIMON: I’m going to play ‘Now I’m Here’ from the … I mean to be honest we could play anything from “Greatest Hits”, apart from ‘Bo Rhap’ just ‘cos it will take us out of time, but the reason why I want to play this is, I don't think it gets played enough and also it takes me back to being at school and looking at a copy of the album and marvelling at, you know, side one, track one - it's just I’d never heard anything like this before, you know. This is astonishing. What do you remember of ‘Now I’m Here’ when you were making this?
BRIAN: Ah, there's a big story there. It reflects that first tour that we did of the States with Mott The Hoople. We'd already toured England with Mott The Hoople, who were a big band at the time and then went out to America with them, and it was an incredible tornado of experiences. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. We were just boys. We came to it from nothing. I went straight from home to rock and roll life all around the States, and it was mind-blowing. The music was amazing, the people were amazing, the whole feeling of kind of breaking through a doorway was incredible. So the song is about that and it was inspired partly by my musical heritage, if you like. You can hear The Who in there. You can probably hear Jimi Hendrix. Yyou can probably hear Buddy Holly, but also you can probably hear Mott The Hoople, because I watched them every night and I watched the magic that they created on stage and learned a lot, and boy, it was something to see. So I, it's kind of dedicated to Mott The Hoople, this track.
SIMON: Alright, let's play it from “Queen's Greatest Hits”, which is back out now. Buy another copy. You've probably got a hundred copies - anyway get another one. We’ll play ‘Now I’m Here’... ...
I think Freddie would have been 65, Brian. I was doing the calculation. Is that right?
BRIAN: Think that today?
SIMON: No no, not today. I’m just trying to imagine what Freddie would have been like singing at 65.
BRIAN: Ah, well, I think he would still have been pretty great. Yes - he exercised - he took care of himself. It’s such a tragedy that that disease took hold of him and destroyed his body - but yeah Freddie would have been if, I often think, if Freddie'd been around now, then we would still be doing it together I’m sure and he would still be saying, “No, I need to do my solo stuff”, but he would be coming back to the family to do what we do, and you know the funny thing is I feel more and more that he is kind of with us in a way. Maybe I’m getting to be an old romantic but Freddie's in my day every day. He’s always in my thoughts and I can always kind of feel what he would be saying in a certain situation like, “What would Freddie think? Yeah, he’d probably like this. He'd laugh at this or whatever and it is so much a part of the legacy that we created that will always be the case, so I suppose you get through. You’ve never finished grieving if you lose like a family member, and Freddie was a family member, but you get to the point where you're at peace and you think, “My God, the guy had a great life. We created wonderful stuff together which is still making people happy”, so there's an acceptance there and a joy that actually it all happened. How amazing it happened, yeah.
SIMON: I listened to the whole album in sequence this morning, Brian, just because I think maybe this is just something that people of a certain age do. Itkind of matters what order the tracks are in, but ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ followed by ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, followed by Killer Queen’ - that kind of works and then it finishes with ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’, and it's there for a reason and I feel as though people should listen to albums. I know this is gonna make me sound very old, but that it's there for a reason. It's arranged like that for a purpose.
BRIAN: You're absolutely right, yeah. That's kind of got washed away these days, hasn’t it with shuttle and whatever. Yeah, every album we ever made, including the “Hits” albums. We thought, “Yeah people are going to be putting this on their turntables”, as it was at the time, “and they will be listening to it in sequence and we want to give them a journey. The tracks have to work in sequence”. So yeah and thank you for bringing that up. I hope people will play it all the way through. It's great.
SIMON: Yes, well I've always read that you're a perfectionist, Brian. I seem to remember from our previous conversations that your reputation is something of the perfectionist, so I think people - it would give you a lot of pleasure think that people start at side, one track one, and work their way through properly and in order .
BRIAN: Yeah, I’m a horrible perfectionist. I think it drives people mad but I always - I think I got it from my Dad.- He’d always say, “If it's worth doing it’s worth doing properly”, and my extension of that is if it's worth doing it's worth doing better than anyone could ever do it in the past. Let's just go for it.
SIMON: And it’s that tendency to the perfectionist is that it increasing as you get older?
BRIAN: I’m trying to hold it in check to be honest. One of my favourite phrases is ‘we managed to avoid perfection on that’ - so yeah, perfection isn't always what you want you know. Sometimes you want the spontaneity and I’ve always been aware of that, but now and again if the odd little moment is perfect then, thank you.
SIMON: And is it true. Brian, just just finally just on this - the other day I was playing “Hunky Dory” - David Bowie - and the story is that the piano that Rick Wakeman played for David Bowie on “Hunky Dory” is the same piano that Paul McCartney used for ‘Hey Jude’ and is the same piano that Freddie played on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and it's an 1898 Bechstein piano. That's either a complete Internet made-up fact, or it's true.
BRIAN: Do you know, I’m not actually sure. I wouldn't like to swear to it but I think it's quite possible - yeah. I think that Trident piano was there for a long time and it was a Bechstein which had very hard hammers, which gave it that very metallic kind of sound. It doesn't sound like a classical piano, although it was built as a classical piano. It has that kind of hard edge to it and, yeah, I think it's highly possible.
SIMON: Let's go with it - it's a great story. Anyway, when do we actually see you play and it's difficult to plan for these things but when might you be stepping out and getting on that stage again?
BRIAN: Well, all things being well, Queen and Adam Lambert will be back on the stage next May - end of next May 2022. It's booked. It’s all sold out. It's been sold out for a long time. I’m just crossing my fingers that we'll actually be able to do it. It's a long way away still. Fingers crossed that's what we'll do. We’ll be ready. I’m gonna be ready and fit and hitting the ground running as soon as I can.
SIMON: Brian, a pleasure as ever. Thanks very much for your time.
BRIAN: Bless you thanks. Thanks for having me. Good luck to you.
RICHARD ALLINSON: It’s Magic. I’m Richard Allinson with Brian May. The lovely thing about talking with Brian is that’s all I have to say ‘cos everybody knows who you are, Brian. How are you? Where are you? What’s going on?
BRIAN MAY: Not bad, thank you. And I’m very excited, ‘cos, finally, after all these years, my first solo album is coming out. It’s not been available for years, and years, and year. RICHARD: I mean I cannot believe there is so much music coming from you. I wasn’t going to give you an intro, but if I was, something like because - Queen’s Greatest Hits is still, last time I looked, the number one selling album in the UK.
BRIAN: Yeah, it is.
RICHARD: And it depends who crunched these number, but I think over the 50 years of Queen, you’ve sold around about 300 million records, and I can’t think of another artist, with one guitar, has appeared on so many recordings as you. This must be a record. Looking back, what is it like hearing the words “50 years of Queen”?
BRIAN: To be honest. we’ve been avoiding it, Roger and myself talked about it and people were saying to us. “Oh you've got to make a big deal of 50 years anniversary”, and we went, “Do we really want to do that?” So we sort of ditched a lot of artwork that said 50 years. We thought it was more important just for people to realise we're still around and still doing it than to talk about numbers. Now having said that everybody's come back and said now you should be proud of 50 years so I guess we're coming round to it. I’m proud. Yes I am and that we've touched the hearts of so many people, and I hope that doesn't sound kind of overdone but i wake up every morning and I realise that by some miracle all those dreams that we had came true and we did connect with people. We’re in people's lives.and the songs trigger things for people all around the world - moments in their lives - which is a great thing. You know ‘We Will Rock You’ I never thought you know you don't know when you're doing it. I never knew how far that could go and ‘We Are The Champions’ - these songs became a part of everybody's lives through sports if nothing else but they connect with people's hopes and dreams. That's what we always dreamed of.
RICHARD: Proper Queen fans will have the album “Jazz”, probably on vinyl. A song on there called ‘Don't Stop Me Now, which is so well loved by so many people. tell us about this song. How did it come about and why is there so little of you on there?
BRIAN: That’s a good question. Yeah it was very much a Freddie thing. Freddie was kind of out on his own and he liked the sound of him singing just with the piano. He wanted to go off on that tangent. It's funny, you see this stuff is kind of told in the story of the film, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film, Freddie had that itch at that time that he wanted to be doing his own thing and he'd seen Elton and he liked what Elton John did, you know. Elton just sings with his piano a lot of time magnificently well. So that's the way Freddie saw this and I said to Freddie “Look”, he needs some guitar on there as rhythm, and he went, “No,I just want it to be clear. I just want it to be very open and clear”, he said [you know guitar solo I want]. But I actually recorded some guitar and it didn't get used. So that's that could be hard. These are one of the painful things that happen when you're recording. You don't always use your fellow band members to do everything and it happened the other way around I’m sure people are gonna tell you or even if O don't tell you that wasn't sure about it because I had a feeling about it that it represented us losing Freddie. It's a strange feeling that I had because he was he was definitely going off at a tangent and I felt that it was a bit kind of reckless I suppose. So I didn't really relate. Obviously I gave the guitar solo everything I had. But it's great. It's a wonderful piece of creation from Freddie. The lyrics are incredible. It really steps out on many limbs so, it's a case of me eating my hat really. I didn't think - I didn't realise what an enormous effect it was going to have on people all around the world.
RICHARD: We're with Brian May. 50 years of Queen. Here's a couple of questions that people have asked me to ask you. These are impossible. What do you think is the moment that will stick with you the most? I mean there must be hundreds, but is there one that you just go, “WOW”?
BRIAN: Well, probably standing on the roof of Buckingham Palace. That's the one that pops into my mind, but that's an unrepeatable moment. I’m not going to repeat it I’ll tell you that - life changing moment because it could have gone so wrong and I had to face so much fear to pull it off. It was completely live; completely dangerous. It wasn't the fact that I could have fallen off the roof, it was the fact that I could have fallen on my face and forever been the guy who screwed it up on the roof of Buckingham Palace, live in front of a billion people. So that stands out. Strangely enough it's once Freddie's gone, and if Freddie had been around probably I would have been engineering a similar event for Freddie to be up there. I was only up there because I was the the only candidate. I had to be the lone piper standing on top of the Buckingham Palace roof. So that sticks out in my mind. But there's - you know what - there's so many moments that do stand out, I’ve got to tell you - Live Aid.
RICHARD: There's one point when he’s, Fred's doing the “Hey-ho” and you're he, he's in front of you on the stage so he can't see you and there's one point when you just look at him and you go “Really ?”, and then you look at the crowd and I’m thinking, “Hang on. This is unique. This will never happen again.”
BRIAN: It was unique and obviously one of Freddie's finest moments and looking back on it, the finest moment for us all perhaps. I didn't realise at the time. No, it was it was a real journey of discovery. We just did our job. Bob Geldof had said to us, “Look don't get clever. Just play the hits”, so we did, and we rehearsed them and we put them all into a little medley and we went on there and did the job. And all the tickets had been sold before we were even announced on the bill so it wasn't a Queen audience, so it's like, “Whoa - what's this going to be like”, but as soon as you saw that sea of hands and everybody knew what to do with Radio Ga Ga, it was a win. It was just - it was way beyond a win. It was an avalanche and I’ll certainly never forget that moment.
RICHARD: Okay Brian, stay right there because got so much more to talk about just after this … You're listening to Magic. I’m RIchard Allinson and we are with Brian May this Saturday evening.
Now you're back out on the road again next year because obviously everything's been postponed. So it's The Rhapsody tour on the road in 2022. You know which songs everybody expects Queen to play when they're on the road, but how do you decide which songs to leave out.
BRIAN: Oh - well, it's not a conscious decision to leave stuff out, it's just what's most pressing - what comes up as being something that you've gotta do. Now we're fortunate to have, to be in the position of having a lot of hits, so you've got to play a lot of hits, and it's a terrible thing isn't it. What a what a terrible problem to have, but you've got to play a lot of these because people will get upset if you don't play them. Now alongside that you try to pull out as many things as you can which will be great in the moment and will, I guess, echo some of the moments that you've had along the way. But it's tough. It’s quite difficult and there are a lot of constraints, and if you start throwing out big hits it starts to feel weird. You can't do a show without ‘Champions’ and ‘Rock You’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and ‘Crazy Little Thing’, what are you gonna do? So, it's it's not easy but really, if we're making decisions it's about how it works with the audience. So we'll put a song in, see how it feels for us, see how it feels for the audience, and make a - take a view from that, and we'll change a few things from night to night. But it's about how does it feel.
RICHARD: Brian, your career's got real staying power. Young artists listening to us now, how do they do what you've done? How do they stay at the top for this long?
BRIAN: Oh - difficult question. I don't think there's an easy answer. I think it's in the material. I think if you're, if you keep your writing fresh, that's the first pillar, because it's the songs which connect with people. Yes, you perform it to the best of your ability and we all, we're all very into our performance as people, but the songs are what get into people's lives, and you’re writing - if you're lucky - you're writing soundtracks to people's lives - the things which they will always remember. The song you heard when you first got your first date. The song which relates to your feelings about your your Mum or your Dad or your first child - those are the things which are precious, I think in the way that we share music. So I think when you're writing I would say you have to be honest about how you feel inside and you have to be aware that you're speaking to other people who want to feel that it's about them. It’s about what they have inside them. You can make that connection, then you're lucky and you're in the right place.
RICHARD: We're with Brian May ‘cos Queen are 50.I’ve never asked you about this song before because it seems so obvious, but we have to play on a day like today - ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, because, by all the rules of the record business, not just in 1975 but even now, this should never have worked - okay- but it did and it is unique. How, why, what - what happened?
BRIAN: I think it’s just good enough. [Laughter]
RICHARD: No one's ever done anything like this before.
BRIAN: No, and it's got to be down to Freddie. It’s Freddie's master plan. Yes, we all contributed but he had most of it in his head in outline and there's a wonderful story to it. Nobody knows quite what the story is, which is a great thing as well. Everybody relates to it in their own way. Freddie's very smartly never told anyone what it was about, bless him. So we're all still wondering. We all have our own ideas - and also in terms of musical style, it encapsulates the full breadth of what we were at that time. We were given free rein to make this album, “A Night At The Opera”, for the first time being able to spend money in a studio properly and flex our muscles if you like. Use all the paintbox colours, and for some reason, yes, it works and I don't ever get tired of it. I don't think anyone ever gets quite tired of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. We should by now. It should be, “Oh my God, it's that track again”, but it's never, no.
RICHARD: And we're with Brian May on Magic and Brian's first solo album, “Back to the Light” is, well you've remastered it and it's out later on this Summer, so we've got to buy new equipment and new speakers, but first of all, this week we've been asking Magic listeners for their favourite Queen songs, obviously. Here's one … … get the easy ones out of the way with - right now, which is your all-time favourite Queen song?
BRIAN: Well, I’m probably slightly biased, but the song that comes into my mind is ‘We Will Rock You’ and because it's all in there. It's very simple. It's very short, but the three ages of man are in there and it's become something which people think wasn't written. That's what I like best. I think it's like, ” No - nobody wrote ‘We Will Rock You’”. It’s just always been there right sort of archetypal. It’s like Stonehenge. So that makes me very proud in a way and wherever I go people will go, “Boom, boom, crrrkk”, and we know we connect and we're in the same place. So yeah, I’m going to say, ‘We Will Rock You’. You know I shouldn't be biased. It's my own song and I love all the Freddie songs, of course. I love ‘Champions’ and there's a lot of favourite Freddie songs which are not even on the “Greatest Hits” album, but there's some damn good ones that are, and the nice thing - if I can add one more thing - is that all four of us are represented on the “Greatest Hits”. So Roger's got great tracks on there. I mean ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ is probably the biggest single - It's probably bigger than ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ still around the world. And John Deacon wrote that all on his own - okay a little bit of help from us - but really to John Deacon track - brilliant. So I think we're the only - let's see, Ben Elton told me this first, we're the only band in which every member has had a number one single around the world, which is nice.
RICHARD: Yeah. Brian, always great to talk. Congratulations on 50 years and the remastering as well. Are you going to be doing any more remastering, because there's there's quite a lot to get through?
BRIAN; Yes, I made a decision that rather than putting out a huge box of all my solo material, I’d work through them the same as they were done in the first days, so this is the first of what I’m calling the “Gold Series”. Second one will be “Another World”, which is my second solo album. I’m working on that already and delving into the past - polishing it up. Making it all glittery and beautiful like this one is. I’m very very happy that it's going to be out there very soon.
RICHARD: Brian, as always a pleasure, a joy, a thrill. Good luck with “Back to the Light”. It is available, remastered and sounding crisp and clear and it's out on August the 6th and we'll see you soon, won’t we? ENDS