brian news

MARCH 2011

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**Wed 23 Mar 11**
ITV WALES INTERVIEW - BADGER CULL TO GO AHEAD

ITV WALES
23 Mar 2011

Efforts to halt a cull of badgers in Wales have been overwhelmingly rejected by Assembly Members.

South Wales West AM Peter Black called on his Senedd colleagues to back a motion to annul the Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011.

But following a debate in The Siambr, which was watched by Queen guitarist Brian May - AMs voted against Mr Black's proposal by 42 to 8.

VIDEO: interview with Brian May before the vote was made

---

Check out also:

BBC WALES iPlayer
BBC Wales Today - available soon
23/03/2011

News from across Wales with Jamie Owen, Sian Lloyd and Lucy Owen, and weather with Derek Brockway.
Broadcast on BBC One, 6:30PM Wed, 23 Mar 2011

© brianmay.com


**Wed 23 Mar 11**
QUEEN'S BRIAN MAY CAMPAIGNS AGAINST WALES BADGER CULL

Brian May Save-MeNME.com
23 March 2011

May says he is 'baffled' by planned cull

Queen guitarist Brian May is campaigning against a proposed badger cull in Wales.

Rural affairs minister Elin Jones has citied scientific evidence suggested that a number of the animals in west and mid-Wales were carrying the bovine TB disease.

May headed to Cardiff today (March 23) to attend an assembly debate and vote on the proposed cull. He told BBC Wales: "I am prepared to fight this all the way." He added: "This is a pointless piece of lunacy and it baffles me that the legal experts in this country can come down against Elin Jones on three separate counts and she can still go ahead just months later. It makes a mockery of Welsh law in my opinion."

He said that cases of bovine TB had "fallen dramatically" in the past two years. "The slaughter of badgers cannot prove anything," he added.

May claimed that a cull could affect Welsh tourism. "I don’t think people will want to visit a place that is splattered with the blood of animals," he said.

The guitarist added that he thought the only way to eliminate the disease was through better screening, vaccination and controls in cattle farming.

Stephen James, Deputy President of the National Farmers Union Cymru, argued that vaccination was not a viable option in the IAA (Intensive Action Area) in west Wales. "Vaccination prevents disease, it does not cure it," he said. "We know that there is a significant reservoir of disease within the badger population of the IAA."

SEE ALSO:
- Rolling Stone - Brian May Lobbies Against Badger Slaughter
- Ultimate Guitar - Queen's Brian May Fights Against Badger Holocaust
- Spinner - Queen's Brian May Calls for U-Turn on Badger Cull Plans

© brianmay.com


**Wed 23 Mar 11**
WALES BADGER CULL: QUEEN'S BRIAN MAY PLEA AHEAD OF VOTE

BadgerBBC NEWS - WALES POLITICS
23 March 2011 by Polly March
BBC Wales News

Queen guitarist Brian May says he is "baffled" the badger cull issue is being revived by politicians in Wales.

Brian May says he will fight the cull
all the way to the High Cou
rt

The animal rights campaigner is in Cardiff to attend an assembly debate and vote on a proposed cull in parts of west and mid Wales.

He told BBC Wales he would help take the fight back to the High Court.

The issue was tabled by rural affairs minister Elin Jones who says there is "substantial scientific evidence" to support a cull. She announced on 9 March she would be reintroducing the issue for discussion after an earlier court battle won by the Badger Trust.

Ms Jones also announced new controls to deal with TB in non-bovines, which include camelids - such as llamas and alpacas - goats and deer. Like cattle, they will be slaughtered if found to be infected by TB after tests.

The cull would apply to north Pembrokeshire and parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

She said her decision came after fully considering all the evidence and would stop the spread of bovine TB.

'Lunacy'

May, who wrote to AMs on the eve of the debate calling for them not to support the cull, told BBC Wales that scientifically the plan was flawed and the only way to eliminate the disease was through better screening, vaccination and movement controls in cattle farming.

He said: "This is a pointless piece of lunacy and it baffles me that the legal experts in this country can come down against Elin Jones on three separate counts and she can still go ahead just months later. It makes a mockery of Welsh law in my opinion. If this goes ahead, it will be straight back to the courts as there is definitely a legal question to be answered and I sincerely hope they don't get away with it. I am prepared to fight this all the way."

The slaughter of badgers cannot prove anything”
Brian May

May said for the past two years, the incidence of bovine TB had "fallen dramatically" with the tightening of cattle-based controls within the farming industry. "The slaughter of badgers cannot prove anything - all it will do is appease the farmers in the short term, who understandably, perhaps, 'want to see something done'".

'Humane and rational'

The star likened the exploitation of animals to the slave trade, saying it was an "indefensible atrocity". He added: "If this goes ahead people will be agitating for sanctions against Welsh farmers and I also think it will deeply affect tourism. I don't think people will want to visit a place that is splattered with the blood of animals."

Wednesday's vote has been tabled by four AMs who are opposed to the cull. One of them is Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales West, Peter Black, who also said he did not believe a cull would reduce TB cases in cattle.

“Vaccination prevents disease, it does not cure it”`
Stephen James
NFU Cymru

The Welsh Assembly Government said any reduction in TB statistics was welcome but it would be "premature" to suggest a turning point has been reached in Wales. "Statistics need to be treated with caution, and while we monitor statistics monthly, figures need to be analysed over time to observe a trend," said a spokesperson.

It said the number of new TB breakdowns in the old Dyfed area between January and November 2010 was 456 compared with 565 for the same period in 2009 - a 19% decrease. But within the intensive active area (IAA) in 2010, there were 79 new TB breakdowns compared with 55 in 2009, a rise of 44%.

Stephen James, deputy president of the NFU Cymru, argued that vaccination was not a viable option in the IAA in west Wales. "Vaccination prevents disease, it does not cure it," he said. "We know that there is a significant reservoir of disease within the badger population of the IAA."

Labour and Plaid Cymru pledged to deal with bovine TB in the coalition deal they struck after the 2007 assembly election.

The latest order comes ahead of the next assembly elections on 5 May.

Some AMs previously tried - and failed - in a similar bid to halt the previous badger cull.

Wednesday's Senedd vote is the same process, played out for a second time with a re-drafted order.

© brianmay.com


**Wed 23 Mar 11**
INTERVIEW: THE LIFE OF BRIAN

His Royal Bri-ness

ROYAL AIR FORCE NEWS
Issue 25 March 2011
R'n'R Leisure Guide

Rock God May on Freddie, fear, fighter planes and saving foxes

RAF Cranwell means a lot to Brian May - even though he's never been there. The Lincolnshire Station has a strong place in the superstar's family history - it was where his parents met during World War II, writes Tracey Allen.

The lead guitarist and songwriter with legendary rockers Queen told RAF News he's looking forward to his first visit to Cranwell - to headline a spectacular open-air concert there in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund.

He said: "I did get a bit of a twinge when I heard we'd been playing at Cranwell."

"My dad never said very much about what he did during the war. My mother was a dental orderly and I think they both did their training at Cranwell. They were engaged all through the war."

Brian and his band, with West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis, will be performing a special gig - Anthems In The Park on July 16. His nationwide tour with Kerry kicks off on May 1 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

They've worked extensively together in the past. He said: "She was our first Meat in We Will Rock You [the Queen musical] - she created the role. I was immediately struck by her incredible voice and it wasn't very long before we were talking about finding a vehicle for that voice."

Brian's father Harold was a radio operator/navigator and flew on Beaufighters and Mosquitoes. He was a gifted musician who played the piano and the ukulele - a talent passed on to his only child.

Brian said: "He was a very instinctive player. I picked up the ukulele first because my dad taught me George Formby stuff.

"I had four years of piano lessons as a child which at the time I hated, but I became very grateful for it later because it gave me the basics of music."

All Queen fans know that Brian plays a unique, home-made guitar - the Red Special - that Harold helped him make from the wood from an 18th century fireplace. He is rated as one of the best rock guitarists of all time and is held in the highest regard by his music business peers, but that didn't stop Brian from feeling the fear when he performed God Save The Queen as a guitar solo on the roof of Buckingham Palace in 2002 for The Queen's Golden Jubilee Party At The Palace concert.

He said: "I love making special things happen and that was one of them - I thought about what Freddie [Mercury] would do as a figurehead of the band.

"It was a fascinating project to be involved in, I did the whole arrangement for the orchestra.

"I was first asked to stroll through the state Rooms playing, but I said I couldn't see myself doing that so I suggested the roof. Once they had gone for it my neck was on the line. I rehearsed with the orchestra, but we never got it right. So I went up there thinking 'what will this be like?' It was very hard to hear the orchestra, but it went perfectly. It was a completely heart-stopping experience and it taught me to deal with the fear."

In a stellar career spanning more than four decades, Brian cites that Palace roof experience as probably his proudest achievement. He also has fond memories of Queen's unforgettable appearance at Live Aid in 1985 - hailed as one of the greatest live performances ever.

He said: "Those experiences were very comparable because they were both for very worthy causes and gave you a warm feeling. Both involved so much skill in handling adrenaline and fear."

As a child Brian was influenced by his dad's love of aircraft.

"When I was a kid I wanted to fly planes - my dad had models of aircraft around the house. We used to go to Farnborough Air Show together. I made models of Spitfires, Hurricaines and Mosquitoes and wanted to be a fighter pilot. Then things changed when I was a teenager and I attacked my dad and said 'why did you go to war'?

"I became very keen on music and astronomy and I still get very excited watching fighter planes - some of my most vivid memories are of seeing the three V bombers at Farnborough.

"I am still very much anti-war but, of course, how can you be anything other than supportive towards the boys and girls who go out there and risk their lives for us?

"If I was in my dad's situation I would probably have done the same thing."

How does Brian explain Queen's massive cross-generation appeal? The band's fans range from children to pensioners.

He said: "I don't really know, but we were very lucky to have that. I think there is a passion in the way we wrote and recorded that people could identify with. We all share the same demons. Our songs generally express people's inner feelings. We were very fiercely competitive between the four of us as we all wrote."

Freddie died in 1991 - Brian said he thinks about Freddie every day - and in 2005 former Free and Bad Company lead vocalist Paul Rodgers joined Brian and drummer Roger Taylor to tour with Queen.

Brian said: "It was really good for Paul and for us to do that, but we have no plans at the moment to collaborate again."

Neither do they plan any more live shows with another lead singer, although Brian revealed they might get together for a one-off gig to celebrate Queen's 40th anniversary this year.

He said: "I've spent a lot of time looking into the past and it's enough after a while. I'm happy to be going on tour with Kerry in May, it's [a] new phase and I prefer that."

How bohemian were Queen?

Brian said: "We were very much a product of our time and place - we lived in Kensington and all that that meant in those days, with Biba and Kensington Church Street. It was very colourful, not exactly bohemian, more polished than that."

He's still in regular touch with fellow band members Taylor and bassist John Deacon.

"I see Roger all the time, we have a lot of meetings. John really seriously retired from live music (in 1997)."

Not just a phenomenally talented musician Brian is also an astrophysicist (he has a PhD in the subject). He appeared in the 700th episode of The Sky at Night earlier this month with Sir Patrick Moore and Professor Brian Cox.

So what's on the other side of a black hole? "Ask Brian Cox" said Dr May.

He has a life-long interest in collecting Victorian stereoscopic photography and in 2009, co-authored a book, A Village Lost and Found, on the work of English stereophotography innovator T R Williams.

He's also a passionate animal rights campaigner, founded the campaign group Save Me and is particularly active in working against badger culling and the repeal of the fox hunting law.

Is it true he would rather be remembered for his animal rights work than his success in music or science?

"Probably yes, if I can change anything - the way people regard animals and stop them abusing and exploiting them."

"Just more and better. It's a great challenge to make Anthems work on the road - I'm certainly very proud of the place we have got to."

TRANSCRIPT BRIANMAY.COM

© brianmay.com


**Tue 22 Mar 11**
RECORD STORE DAY

The Foo Fighters are releasing a very special vinyl album of their favorite cover tunes that they have recorded over the years, called "Medium Rare" EXCLUSIVELY for Record Store Day participating stores. The album will be a limited run and will hit shops in time for April 16th Record Store Day.

Band On The Run (original by Paul McCartney & Wings)
I Feel Free (original by Cream)
Life of Illusion (original by Joe Walsh)
Young Man Blues (original by Mose Allison)
Bad Reputation (original by Thin Lizzy) * new recording
Darling Nikki (original by Prince)
Down In The Park (original by Gary Numan)
Baker Street (original by Gerry Rafferty)
Danny Says (original by The Ramones)
Have A Cigar (original by Pink Floyd)
Never Talking To You Again (original by Husker Du)
Gas Chamber (original by Angry Samoans)
This Will Be Our Year (original by The Zombies)
* new recording

It will be remembered that Brian May appeared on the Foo Fighters' 2000 cover of "Have A Cigar" on the album "Mission Impossible 2: Inspired By & Score".

As previously reported, Queen are going to be a big part of Record Store Day in the U.S. & Canada with the limited edition release of a commemorative edition of their very first single 'Keep Yourself Alive b/w Son and Daughter'.

Check out stores participating in Record Store Day in your country HERE.

© brianmay.com


**Tue 22 Mar 11**
BRIAN MAY ANECDOTE BY DAVE GROHL

Elle Magazine cover April 2011The Rock GodThe highly amiable Dave Grohl was interviewed by Elle Magazine (April 2011) - altogether the interview is a very enjoyable read...

Here's one or two extracts - including Brian visiting his 'garage' studio....

ELLE MAGAZINE
April 2011

THE ROCK GOD

From Nirvana to the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl has shaped the world of rock. He talks love, family and music with Hanna Hanra

Dressed in black with shoulder-length hair and a trimmed goatee . . .

He has sung to 70,000 people in Hyde Park, is one quarter of the Josh Homme / John Paul Jones / Alain Johannes supergroup that is Them Crooked Vultures and has worked with, among others, Brian May . . .

Like many drummers I've met, Grohl is in constant motion as he speaks, tapping on his thigh, swinging on his chair. He is also in constant conversation about music. He loves it - making it, writing it, talking about it. It threads through everything for him. 'Studio memories are really vivid and they last forever,' he says. 'So when I hear a song on the radio that we've made, I remember that day. I remember what I was wearing, what I ate. Making this album here in the house, that was part of the concept. . .

'That's Brian May's underpants,' says Grohl, pointing to a pair of green pants above the door. 'We hang them up there like mistletoe. Brian came down to play on the record and he shows up at the studio wearing running shorts, socks and sneakers, with two huge bags. so he puts the bags down and says, "I'm going to change my clothes," then comes back in these, like, MC Hammer pants, plays the lead, hangs out and then has to split. An hour later, he called and said, "You guys, I left one of my bags in the room, just leave it in there, I'll come back and get it." So I was, like, OK, and hung up the phone and looked in there. And there they were.' It's one of a long line of slightly surreal anecdotes that Grohl shares with me . . .

© brianmay.com


**Tue 22 Mar 111**
Q AND A WITH BRIAN MAY

MELBOURNE COMMUNITY VOICE
22 Mar 2011 - Andrew Shaw

Brian May
Queen guitarist Brian May looks back on his regal career.

What kind of band was Queen setting out to be in 1971 – did you have a musical vision?

It was a vision in our head really. I think we would have described at the time as very heavy underneath but very melodic and very harmonic on top and there wasn’t really a model. We had heroes, you know, Jimi Hendrix was a huge hero and Zeppelin were sort of almost contemporary but they were our heroes as well. They managed to do some of what we wanted to do but they didn’t have this other side to them. We were very fond of Yes at the time who had an element, they had this very complex harmonic element which was an inspiration, but our heroes also went much further back in time so there’s people like George Formby and the Big Bands and The Tempra and [sic Temperance] Seven, all sorts of strange eclectic influences on us.

I think we were like a sponge and we observed all of this wonderful music that was around us at a very particular time in history, it couldn’t really happen now I don’t think, but we grew up with all of these sounds in our heads and we knew what we wanted. The lucky thing was that Freddie and Roger and I had a very similar vision in our heads so when we came together it was easy to know which decisions to make to try and make this happen.

Tell us about Freddie back then, was he always the flamboyant showman?

He was always a rock star, he really was, that’s the funny thing. He was a very shy boy, very shy, very insecure I would say. He came from a very strict public school upbringing and very repressed in a sense and so his reaction to that was to go completely the other way, to be completely outrageous and build a character around himself which he inhabited, and it came to its climax when he actually changed his name as well and became Freddie Mercury instead of Bulsara. So he was... I regard Freddie was a completely self made man. He had his vision, he had his dream and he constructed everything about his life to make this dream happen and we were part of this whole kind of journey.

Back in the early days did you ever imagine that Queen would have such an impact on popular music, still be talked about 40 years on?

No, I still think it’s a dream sometimes; sometimes I think that... you know there’s this theory that there is only me that exists and everything else is a dream. I still get that feeling sometimes because everything is so incredibly, I was going to say lucky but it’s unusual in every respect. We had these incredible dreams but I think along with the precociousness and the belief and the sort of belligerence of trying to achieve your dream, there is a little piece of you inside which says no this is impossible, we could never do this. I still have that and I wake up some mornings and think how did that happen? How did we become this worldwide phenomenon? It’s great, it’s amazing and I feel very grateful and I think I still have a problem putting it in its place and maybe that’s just, maybe that’s lucky too.

Deep Cuts, Volume I (1973–1976) is a compilation of Queen tracks between 1973 and 1976.

TRANSCRIPT BRIANMAY.COM

© brianmay.com


**Mon 21 Mar 11**
QUEEN LEGEND WILL ROCK RAF

Brian May and Kerry Ellis to play RAF Cranwell

RAF NEWS
21 March 2011

ROCK royalty comes to College this summer when legendary Queen guitarist Brian May headlines an open air concert at RAF Cranwell.

The superstar will top the bill at the Anthems In The Park fundraiser outside Cranwell’s historic College Hall on July 16.

He told RAF News: “My dad, Harold May, was in the RAF for seven years. He joined up when war broke out in 1939. He was a radio operator/navigator and flew in Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.

“He did not like talking about his experiences, except when people wanted to know about the aeroplanes themselves, which he loved.

“I have some pictures of them that he left to me – one in particular of a Beaufighter which was his ‘home’ for a while.

“He met my mum, Ruth Fletcher, in the RAF. She was a Dental Orderly in the WRAF, and I believe it was at Cranwell that they met.

“As soon as the war was over they got married and soon I was on the way.

“My dad got his ‘commission’ just before he was demobbed, I believe – something he cherished and had worked very hard for. He had a family on the way.”

Kerry EllisAlso appearing in Anthems are West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis, pictured inset right, and the Band of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell under the baton of Director of Music Flight Lieutenant Matt Little, plus the Salon Orchestra of the Central Band of the RAF. Cranwell’s Station Commander, Group Captain Dave Waddington, said: “Anthems in the Park is a fantastic occasion and I’m very grateful to both Brian and Kerry for agreeing to perform for us and making what would otherwise be an enjoyable event into a truly outstanding and memorable one.”

The evening will also include an air display and the musical programme will finish with a stunning firework display.

The event has been organised by a team of volunteers and all profits will be donated to charity – the major beneficiary will be the RAF Benevolent Fund.

“If you are tempted to spend an evening at the home of the Royal Air Force, being entertained by world-famous stars at what is surely the premier music event of the summer, then please support us by buying a ticket and joining in the fun,” said Gp Capt Waddington.

Tickets are £25 for adults, £15 for children (5 to 17; under 5s free) and £65 for a family (two adults and two children aged 5-17).

They are available at www.ticketline.co.uk or go to www.rafbf.org/cranwell or www.raf.mod.uk/cranwell. The ticket sales hotline is 0844 888 9991.
Gates open at 4.30pm, with a fly-past at 7.10pm, and the concert starts at 7.30pm.

Concert goers are asked to provide their own seating and for those who do not wish to bring picnics food and drink is available to buy on the night – including Pimms.

Lotus logo

© brianmay.com


**Wed 02 Mar 11**
AN AUDIENCE WITH BRIAN MAY

Uncut April 2011UNCUT MAGAZINE - April 2011
FIRST CUTS
AN AUDIENCE WITH BRIAN MAY

The Queen guitarist and self-confessed “mild man of rock” gets worked up about astronomy, Axl Rose, cross-dressing and badgers . . .

BRIAN MAY is not a natural axe hero.  I contrast to the red-blooded, hedonistic pursuits favoured by many of the guitar greats, May is a studious, meticulously polite suburban academic, with a keen interest in nerdy pursuits such as physics and stereoscopic photography.  In Freudian terms, he is all superego and no id.

“I don’t mind being the mild man of rock,” he says.  "I seem to be a person who needs all these different threads in my life.  It’s like massaging different areas of my brain.  I also try to be a decent family person if I can.”

May is currently overseeing a mammoth series of Queen re-releases – commemorating the 40th anniversary of the band and the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death.  But obligations to his old band aside, May has also become well-known as an animal rights campaigner.  Last year, he found himself at the centre of a tabloid storm when he dismissed a news story about twin babies in east London who’d been attacked by foxes.  “Fox attacks babies?” he wrote on his blog.  “Sure! And monkeys will fly out of my butt.”

“No, I don’t regret anything I said,” he says today. “I do all I can to campaign on behalf of wild animals, like foxes and badgers.”

And with that, he prepares to answer a bumper crop of your questions about astronomy, vegetarianism and what Freddie really thought of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. . .

STAR QUESTION:
===========
Brian, one component of your distinctive sound is the very strong vibrato. Is this due to a natural tendency to shake, or is it the result of hard work and practice? If the latter, please share with us how you set about developing such a fab vib!
Hank Marvin

Well Hank, of course, has his own distinctive vibrato which is produced with the right hand. He uses his tremolo arm to vary the pitch slightly and has a very rich, expressive and distinctive vibrato sound which all of us kids in the old days used to worship! Mine is different. It's mainly with the left hand. I only use the tremolo arm to sweeten things. Every guitarist's vibrato is different. Eric Clapton's is very much his left hand floating in the air, making a kind of linear oscillation, if I can put it that way, as a physicist! For me, the joint that joins the first finger to the hand is always anchored to the neck, and it always wobbles and rotates around that point. When it does that, no matter which finger is on the string, it's that pivot point that produces the lateral movement that creates the vibrato. Once you know that's there, you work out how to control it.

I remember seeing Queen live in 1979 and throwing a couple of sixpences on stage, thinking you might need them as a plectrum.  Did this happen a lot?

Nick Armstrong, Umea, Sweden

Well, thank you Nick!  People do, very kindly, bring me envelopes of sixpences.  They’re not that hard to find, you can buy bags of them pretty cheap.  Do they knacker the guitar?  No.  They're made of nickel-silver so the metal dust you get on your guitar is from the sixpence rather than from the strings.

Do you see links between astronomy and music?
Chris Carling, Birmingham

Its’s odd, because throughout history a lot of great astronomers have been musicians.  And, a lot of musicians are into astronomy.  So there must be a link somewhere in the human psyche.  I don’t find that they link up much in practice.  I suppose the great example in my life is the song “’39” which is really about relativistic time travel. 

Really the song is about the human drama of that, rather than the physics of it.  It’s on A Night At The Opera.  It’s about a man going on a trip to find new worlds, and he comes back, what seems to him to be a year later, but in fact it’s 100 years later.  It’s the story of what he finds when he comes back.  It’s not really about physics, but the physics gave me the idea.  No, I don’t link them that much, but find that one is a great foil for the other.  It works all different parts of your brain, I suppose.

Did Queen argue a lot in the studio?
Eric Hansen, St Louis, MO, USA

All the time.  It was a terrible battle, particularly between me and Roger.  Do you know who was the easy-going presence?  Freddie.  Freddie was the greatest diplomat in the studio.  I know it’s contrary to his image, and he comes across as a very stubborn figure, but he was fantastic at finding compromises and defusing tension in the studio.  There’s a longstanding, brotherly relationship between me and Roger, but we always pull in opposite directions.  It’s better these days.  Nowadays we’ve both grown up quite a bit.  Usually, if something goes wrong now, we just ring each other up and talk and that’s that.

When did you first become a vegetarian?
Claudia Manzoni, Milan, Italy

It’s a gradual thing.  I’m not a perfect vegetarian.  I tend to be travelling along a line.  I haven’t eaten beef, lamb or pork in a very long time, but I lingered on eating bits of fish occasionally.  I’m becoming someone who prefers not to eat dairy either, and a lot of that is to do with issues of cruelty in dairy farming.  There’s a proposal to introduce a huge factory dairy farm factory in Monkton, where there will be thousands of cattle hooked up to machines their whole lives and never able to see the sunshine.  I find that appalling.  The dairy industry is also pushing very hard to kill native badgers, in the name of trying to cure bovine TB.  To me that’s a crime against nature, against decency.

- "We'd all take the piss out of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', even Freddie, Especially Freddie!" -

Brian May

How did you get involved in the making of Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy album?
Judo Jump, via email

I can’t remember when I first met Axl [Rose], but we invited them to play the [1992] Freddie tribute.  They did a fantastic job, and also donated a lot of money to the Mercury Phoenix Trust.

Subsequent to that, my solo band supported GN’R on tour and we got on very well.  People think of Axl as difficult, but he was always very attentive to me. When they were making that album, after God-knows-how-many years, he was talking to [Queen’s old producer] Roy Thomas Baker, who was doing some production for them at the time, and they came up with the idea of contacting me to help them work out a direction.  I flew out to meet him and he played me pretty much the whole album.  We had a long night, talking, thinking, figuring out potential directions, and then I had a couple of days just trying things out.  I think I played on two-and-a-half tracks, but they didn’t end up using my parts.  They used about 10 guitarists subsequent to that!  I have rough mixes of these tracks somewhere in my archive, but I’m not going to let anyone listen to them, out of loyalty to Axl!  It was fun, to throw something in there to help out a friend.

How do you answer people who say that you destroyed Queen’s legacy by working with Paul Rodgers?
Romania, Belfast, N Ireland

Hmm.  The great thing about working with Paul is that he was nothing like Freddie.  It wouldn’t have worked if we’d got a Freddie soundalike.  That partnership wasn’t planned, or premeditated.  We performed “All Right Now” at a Fender Anniversary concert and it felt like such a natural combination.  Then Paul’s lady, who later became his wife, said: “All you two need now is a drummer.”  Ha ha!  So Roger got involved and we did a couple of gigs and it felt good.  Suddenly the button was pressed.  We played amazing concerts in massive venues around the States and Europe and eventually all the way around South America.  I think, at that point, some of the cracks were beginning to show, and it was hard to keep our balance internally.  I think we had to part company to maintain our friendship!  Anyway it would have been silly for Paul to just be a Queen frontman.  He’s got so much of his own history and legacy to pursue.  He’s still a blues man; he’s his own man.

Can you explain your views as an animal rights campaigner?
Joe Sloane, Winchester

The way we treat all animals is way out of date.  They are thinking, feeling, creatures, not so different from us.  We treat animals in all situations appallingly.  There has to be a fundamental re-evaluation of where human beings stand.  That’s the root of my campaigning.  If the government persist on trying to wipe out our native wildlife because they can't solve the problems of wildlife, then we have to protest very strongly.  We have to hit people where it hurts them, because I think they’re hurting us.


STAR QUESTION:
===========

What's it like to be back in the world of astrophysics?
Patrick Moore

Part of the reason I'm back is Patrick. He's become a great friend over the past 10 or so years, and he's been incredibly encouraging and persistent in getting me to open the file on my PhD, which I completed a couple of years ago. It's wonderful to have that door open again. It wasn't like I was pining the whole time for astronomy but there was a certain sense of unfinished business. I now feel in touch with a whole community of astrophysicists, which is very important to me.


Do you think Freddie’s sexuality damaged Queen’s popularity?
Alex, Australia

On the whole, no.  His sexuality was an open secret, but nobody really cared out there, especially among the fans.  They refused to believe he had any gay tendencies, ha ha.  But it did affect us in America, particularly when we did the video for “I Want To Break Free”.  As you know, it was based on a spoof of the ladies of Coronation Street.  That video was the idea of Roger’s girlfriend, and of course, Roger was a very convincing schoolgirl.  Every one who worked on the video ended up fancying him!  The cross-dressing was a joke that was well understood in Britain, but not in the States.  I was in America at the time and a lot of people went literally white at the sight of us dressed up as women.  Rock stars do not dress up in women’s clothes, rock stars are not homosexual.  I think that, in combination with a few other things, killed our career in America.

When was the last time you contacted John Deacon?
Ishkur, Croatia

Well, we don’t communicate.  That’s an odd thing to say, isn’t it?  And that’s really his choice, because he doesn’t want to be connected to the business, if you like.  We communicate in a roundabout way when there are business decisions to be made, ‘cos John’s still very much concerned with that side of things.  He was always good at that role.  But he doesn’t want anything to do with performance.  And that’s just something that we respect.

How do you rate Hot Space now?
Gary Torngren, Oakland, CA

Ha!  It’s probably not my favourite Queen album, but there’s a lot of good stuff on there.  I can stand by every album that we ever made!  I think the seeds of that album came from John [Deacon] and his reaction to complexity.  He’d say that some of the best things are simple and funky and have a lot of spaces in them. And 'space' became a watchword for us, and it led us off in new directions. It also had a lot to do with working in Munich. After work we'd go down to one of these 'rock discos', as the Germans used to call them. We all decided that it would be good to make the kind of music that would sound good in that situation, with lots of breathing space to make it funky.

What did Freddie think of your collaboration with Bad News and their cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody"?
Craig Horner, Scotland

Oh, he loved it. Freddie's humour is something that's understood by fans but not so much by other people. He was hilarious company. Anyone who saw him live knows he could be a great clown. I remember showing him the bit in Wayne's World and worrying that he might be offended. "Darling, this makes me remember how we used to take the piss out of it."


STAR QUESTION:
===========

What telescope do you use> And what's the most amazing thing you've seen with it?
Wilko Johnson

I had no idea Wilko was a keen astronomer too! I have a Meade 10-inch, the kind of instrument I always promised myself. Not long ago I built myself a great little observatory and I put this telescope in it. It has a "GoTo" facility, which allows you to track stars - all very posh. The funny thing is, I mostly tend to use the little four-inch reflector telescope that I built with my dad when I was a kid. Largely because it is easier to get out and turn on if there's something in the sky that urgently demands attention. It still works really well. The most amazing thing I've seen with it? Well, Saturn is always the most amazing thing you can see in a telescope. It's exquisite. When Galileo first observed it, he thought it was two little circles linked together. It must have been an incredible moment for him when he worked out what it was. But as Wilko knows, there are so many wonderful sights you can see with a telescope. They become old friends.


INTERVIEW: JOHN LEWIS

TRANSCRIPT BRIANMAY.COM

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**Sun 13 Mar 11**
ROCK STAR BRIAN MAY PLEADS WITH MINISTER TO STOP WELSH BADGER CULL

Brian MayWALESONLINE
by Robin Turner, Wales On Sunday
Mar 13 2011

The former Queen star has told the
minister to "become a human being"

Animal-loving rock legend Brian May has pleaded with Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones to stop a planned badger cull, telling her: “Become a decent human being.” The 63-year-old Queen guitarist hit out after the minister revived plans for a controversial badger cull in North Pembrokeshire to curb tuberculosis in cattle.

The cull was delayed last year after the Badger Trust, aided by May, won a challenge in the Court of Appeal over previous plans. But this week Elin Jones announced plans to press ahead, mainly in north Pembrokeshire, despite recognising what she called the “genuine concern” of opponents.

May said, in a direct challenge to the minister: “Stop what you are doing Elin Jones – become a decent human being.” He added Jones was “appeasing” what he called the militant tendency among farmers. And he said it would cause an anger in Wales, with people “starting to hate farmers”.

The guitarist told Wales on Sunday: “The levels of bovine TB are actually dropping at this point so it’s quite scandalous to open up the slaughter of these wild animals at this point especially. You can kill as many badgers as you like and there will still be bovine TB in 10 years’ time in Britain. Really, the Welsh countryside is going to be covered with blood and I don’t think that’s going to be good for its image.”

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said Elin Jones did not want to reply directly to Brian May. But the minister said: “After full consideration of the evidence presented to me, including consideration of the consultation responses, I have reached the decision to proceed with legislation which would enable a government-led cull of badgers in the Intensive Action Area. I am aware this decision will cause some people genuine concern, but it is a decision I have taken based on full consideration of the matter.”

About 1,400 of the estimated 35,000 badgers in Wales are likely to be trapped and shot by contractors, the government has said, while insisting population levels would recover. TB-infected badgers are seen as prime conduits for TB in cattle, prompting Queen guitarist Brian May to attack what he called “an apparently insatiable lust to take revenge”.

In a move which will further enrage animal rights campaigners, alpacas, guanacos, llamas and vicunas, as well as goats and deer, will be subject to controls similar to those on cattle and compensation will be paid if they have to be slaughtered.

© brianmay.com

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