|Brian May Quick Info|
|Height||6 ft 1½ in|
|Date of Birth||July 19, 1947|
Brian May is a legendary English guitarist and songwriter who is widely recognized as a member of the rock band Queen. A virtuoso talent, his trademark guitar the ‘Red Special’ and sixpence coin (used as a pick) are as symbolic of May as are his layered guitar works in many of the band’s chart-topping musical numbers. Apart from his artistic bent, May is also a keen astrophysicist and received his PhD in 2007. Over the years, he has used his fame to promote the cause of animal rights, which is very dear to him, with his 2 million followers on Instagram and 1 million followers on Twitter. Since 2000, he has been married to actress Anita Dobson.
Brian Harold May
Hampton, London, England, United Kingdom
Windlesham, Surrey, South East England, United Kingdom
Brian studied at Hampton Grammar School in London. While at the school, he received 10 GCE Ordinary Levels and 3 GCE Advanced Levels in subjects like Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Physics.
Furthermore, he got enrolled at Imperial College London to study Physics and Mathematics and graduated with a bachelor’s degree (Hons) in Physics in 1968. He began work on his PhD in 1970 but dropped out to focus on his musical career. In 2007, he completed his unfinished thesis titled “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.” May received his PhD in Astrophysics from Imperial College in 2007.
Musician, Record Producer, Singer, Songwriter, Author, Astrophysicist
- Father – Harold R. May (Draughtsman at the Ministry of Aviation) (Died in 1991)
- Mother – Ruth Irving (Fletcher)
- Siblings – None
- Others – Harold May (Paternal Grandfather), Louisa Emma Barrett (Paternal Grandmother)
Brian is represented by the UK-based Duck Productions Ltd.
- Hollywood Records Inc.
- Parlophone Records Limited
6 ft 1½ in or 186.5 cm
78 kg or 172 lbs
Girlfriend / Spouse
Brian May has dated –
- Christine Mullen (1969-1988) – Brian and Christine Mullen crossed paths for the first time in 1969 and dated for 7 years before getting married in 1976. They were married for over a decade and became parents to 3 children – a son named James May (b. June 15, 1978) and daughters, Louisa May (b. May 22, 1981), and Emily Ruth May (b. February 18, 1987). Their marriage suffered in the late 80s and they got officially divorced in 1988.
- Deborah Vidacovich (1974-1978) – During his American tour with Queen, Brian came across Deborah Vidacovich at a rock and roll bar in New Orleans. He was instantly smitten with Deborah but could not pursue her as he became hospitalized with hepatitis soon after. The single Now I’m Here was inspired by his crush, whom he called Peaches in the song. Their dalliance lasted from April 1974 to October 1978.
- Anita Dobson (1988-Present) – The Queen guitarist first laid eyes on the EastEnders actress Anita Dobson at a preview screening of the film Down and Out in Beverly Hills in 1986. The two worked together on Anita’s first album, most notably the song Anyone Can Fall in Love, released in August 1986. Their intense attraction was the reason for his divorce from then-wife Christine and the two officially began dating in 1988. They courted each other for 12 years with their relationship going through its own share of drama. In 1999, it was revealed that Brian had cheated on Anita with his secretary Julie Glover which led to an indefinite breakup. However, the couple overcame this difficult time and finally tied the knot on November 18, 2000, in a civil ceremony with bandmates Roger Taylor, John Deacon, and his 3 children in attendance.
- Julie Glover (1999) – Brian had a brief affair with his secretary Julie Glover in 1999 while he was in a relationship with Anita Dobson.
Race / Ethnicity
He has English ancestry on his father’s side and is of Scottish descent on his mother’s side.
However, his hair has turned gray due to his advanced age.
- Flamboyant, curly hair
- His guitar named “Red Special”
Music from his band Queen has been featured in commercials for the following brands –
- Ford (Featuring Driven By You)
- Pepsi (2004) ( Featuring We Will Rock You)
- Mountain Dew (2000) (Featuring Bohemian Rhapsody)
- Dr Pepper (2007) (Featuring I Want It All)
- Coca-Cola (Featuring I Want to Break Free)
- Carlsberg (Featuring Love of My Life)
- Viagra (2004) (Featuring We Are the Champions)
Best Known For
- His musical work as a guitarist and songwriter with the rock band Queen from 1970 to 1991 until Freddie Mercury‘s untimely death
- Being an accomplished scientist and making valuable contributions in the field of astrophysics and spectroscopy
- Raising awareness for animal rights and consistently campaigning against the culling of badgers and hunting of foxes in the UK
- As a member of Queen – The band released their eponymous debut album Queen in July 1973.
- As a solo artist – His debut album Back to the Light was released in September 1992 in the UK and reached the US audience in February 1993.
- As Queen + Paul Rodgers – Their debut album The Cosmos Rocks was released on September 15, 2008, and was met with mixed reviews.
First TV Show
In 1974, Brian made his first TV show appearance on BBC’s Top of the Pops as a member of Queen alongside his bandmates.
In his own words, Brian has admitted that he was pathetic at doing exercises most of his life. But, decades of living a rockstar life did catch up with him and he started experiencing persistent body pain in his later years. It is then that he became motivated to focus on his fitness. He now starts his day with a 40-minute workout regime followed by 10 minutes of meditation. May has credited the mindfulness app Headspace and the 7-minute workout app in helping him maintain his fitness goals. After struggling with knee problems for many years, he underwent knee replacement surgery. He then decided to replace steps like jumping jacks, chair step-ups, lunges, and high knees running in the workout plan with exercise biking as it put less pressure on his knees.
In 2017, Brian had mentioned being a vegetarian and had further added that he consumed meat only sporadically. As a staunch animal rights activist, he supports veganism and consumes mostly vegan food, but has admittedly found it difficult to overcome his penchant for dairy products like cheese. He has expressed his wish to eventually transition completely to a vegan lifestyle.
Brian May Favorite Things
- Guitar Riff To Play – Tie Your Mother Down
- Song From 1995 Album Made In Heaven – Mother Love
- Scene From The 2018 Film Bohemian Rhapsody – When Freddie informs his bandmates that he is going off to do his solo album
- Queen Song To Play Live – We Are the Champions, We Will Rock You
- Animal – Fox
- Singer – Doris Day
- Song – Secret Love by Doris Day
Brian May Facts
- Brian built his world-famous guitar the ‘Red Special’ at the age of 16 with help from his father who was an electronics engineer. The components used to construct the guitar were homemade materials like the 18th-century fireplace mantle, motorbike valve springs, mother-of-pearl buttons, a knitting needle, shelf edging, etc.
- On June 3, 2002, Brian performed the guitar rendition of God Save the Queen atop the roof of Buckingham Palace to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
- He was appointed as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services towards the music industry and charitable contributions on the Queen’s birthday honors list in 2005.
- May, considered a virtuoso guitarist by many, was listed by Rolling Stone magazine on the 26th spot in the list of “100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time” in 2011.
- Instead of using a traditional pick for his home-made guitar, May uses a sixpence coin as, according to him, it offers him more control while playing and produces the best guitar sounds. However, since the early 70s, these coins were pulled out of circulation so Brian had them custom-made by the Royal Mint in 1992 featuring his likeness on these coins.
- In June 2004, Total Guitar Magazine enlisted 2 of Brian’s guitar riffs in the list of “100 Greatest Riffs.” The songs that made the cut were Tie Your Mother Down on the 84th spot and One Vision at the 60th position.
- During his tour of 1998, he introduced a new support act, T. E. Conway. His alter-ego persona would have him appear onstage dressed in a colorful suit and wig, reminiscent of a Teddy Boy crooner. Conway would play rock and roll music from the 1950s before making way for the ‘real’ Brian May. However, the new act was not well-received and was retired by the tour’s end.
- He has listed Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who as his greatest musical influences. Among his guitar heroes are icons like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Steve Hackett, and Jimi Hendrix.
- In 2001, his band Queen was inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’.
- Brian along with his Queen band members became recipients of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
- In 2002, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording was awarded to his band at 6358 Hollywood Boulevard in California.
- The late 80s and early 90s was an especially difficult time in May’s life as he had to deal with his father’s passing, the end of his troubled first marriage, and the illness and subsequent death of Freddie Mercury in a short amount of time. He had later confessed that he suffered from severe depression as a result of it and had even contemplated suicide. He overcame this critical period by focusing all his attention on his music.
- One of his most successful collaborations in recent times has been with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert. Queen + Adam Lambert saw Brian May reuniting with former bandmate/drummer Roger Taylor, with Lambert stepping in as the lead vocalist. The trio has performed worldwide on tours since 2011.
- May is also well-known for his role as an animal rights activist. In September 2012, he was appointed as vice-president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
- He was appointed as the Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University in November 2007. He held the position from 2008 to 2013.
- In September 2015, a newly discovered damselfly species from Brazil was given the name Heteragrion brianmayi (of the genus Heteragrion, Odonata: Zygoptera).
- Brian had purchased a 157-acre plot of land in Bere Regis, Dorset in 2012 which has come to be known as “May’s Wood.” His team has planted around 100,000 trees and, with time, the place has been converted into a lush woodland.
- Brian’s lifelong fascination with stereoscopic photographs began in his early childhood. His book A Village Lost and Found, released in 2009, features an annotated collection of stereoscopic images from Victorian photographer T. R. Williams’ 1856 publication Scenes in Our Village. Co-authored by Elena Vidal, May’s book is accompanied by his personal invention, the ‘OWL focusing stereoscope’.
- May published Queen in 3-D in 2017 documenting his band’s 50-year long history through stereoscopic photographs. It contains more than 300 images and is also the only book about the award-winning band released by one of its members.
- May collaborated with NASA scientists on the New Horizons mission to work on the first stereoanaglyph based upon images of Ultima Thule (in the Kuiper belt) taken by the spacecraft.
- On 18 June 2008, he got an asteroid named after him called 52665 Brianmay.
- Visit his official website @ brianmay.com.
- Follow Brian May on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Featured Image by David J. Cable/Arcadia Photographic UK / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 2.0