Want to play guitar like Brian May of Queen?
We won’t stop you now. With the Brian May Player Study from Fret Zealot, you can learn May’s trademark style, including his use of vibrato, flowing lead, and behind the beat playing.
May co-founded Queen along with Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor in 1970. He had previously played with Taylor in a band called “Smile” while they were in college. Queen went on to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world with songs penned by May, including “We Will Rock You”, “I Want It All”, and “Fat-Bottomed Girls”. Following Mercury’s death in 1991, May continued to perform, both with Queen and on solo projects. American Idol finalist Adam Lambert has taken on the mantle of lead singer for the group since 2011.
Brian May is widely regarded as a guitar virtuoso. He was ranked #26 on Rolling Stone’s 2011 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Most of his guitar work, both live and in the studio, is done on a guitar he built with his electronics engineer father at age 16. The guitar, called the “Red Special” was made out of wood from an 18th century fireplace, as well as items like buttons, shelf edging, and motorcycle valve springs. He also prefers to use coins to strum, rather than picks. May creates multi-part harmonies in his guitar compositions and uses styles like sweep picking, tremolo, tapping, and slide guitar. He creates unique sounds on the guitar, imitating an orchestra, trombone, piccola, and chimes. Queen used to use a sleeve note on their early albums to let listeners know that no synthesizers were used – it was all guitar.
May is not only a star in the music world – he also is a certified star expert. He earned his Ph.D in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007. He held the position of chancellor with Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013 and was a science team collaborator with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He’s one of the co-founders of Asteroid Day, and has the asteroid 52665 Brianmay named after him.
When you tap into Brian May’s signature style with the player study course, you can also learn multiple Queen songs with lessons from Fret Zealot.
Don’t Stop Me Now didn’t chart very high when it was released as a single in 1979, but time has been very kind to it. The song has become more popular over the years thanks to consistent airplay, use in TV shows, ads, and movies, and through cover versions.
A favorite song for sporting events, “We Will Rock You” is usually followed by “We Are the Champions”. They were the last two songs Queen performed at Live Aid in 1985. The song is nearly completely a cappella except for a 30 second solo by May toward the end. The “stamping” effects were made by the band overdubbing the noise of themselves stomping and clapping, and adding delay to make it sound like there were many people participating.
A song written by Freddie Mercury as a tribute to his musical inspirations, Elvis Presley and Sir Cliff Richard, Mercury said he wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in five to ten minutes. “I did that on the guitar, which I can’t play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords,” he told Melody Maker magazine in 1981. “It’s a good discipline because I simply had to write within a small framework. I couldn’t work through too many chords and because of that restriction I wrote a good song, I think.”
One of Queen’s biggest songs, Bohemian Rhapsody is a six minute “mock opera”, a combination of three songs Mercury wrote. It has no refraining chorus and multiple “sections”, similar to a suite of classical music or a piece of opera. It was recorded at five different studios over August – September 1975, and the recording technology at the time required them to bounce the tracks over eight generations of 24-track tape – they needed almost 200 tracks for overdubs.