The guitarist that Brian May said is a master of invention

Brian May with Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi

The guitarist Brian May helped to form Queen alongside the drummer Roger Taylor and vocalist Freddie Mercury in 1970. One year after they invited the bassist John Deacon to join them and the classic line-up of the band was complete. They remained together until Mercury’s death in 1991 at the age of 45. Within only two decades they quickly became one of the biggest bands in the world, playing to sold out stadiums and becoming one of the best-selling bands of all time.

They have sold an estimated amount of 250 to 300 million records worldwide and still are one of the most influential bands in the history of music. Their sound and lyrics wouldn’t certainly be the same with Freddie Mercury but another very important element of the group was the guitarist Brian May. With a unique guitar he built with his father when he was 16, combined with his talent and habit of using a coin to play the instrument, May created a unique sound, with amazing harmonies and solos.

He always had a broad musical taste and liked all kinds of bands and artists, from The Beatles to Motörhead. The guitarist always praised his heroes and once mentioned a guitarist that in his opinion is a master of invention.

The guitarist that Brian May said is a master of invention

Brian May himself could be called a “master of invention”, because his guitar, the “Red Special” was born when he was 16 and built from scratch, the instrument with his father who was an electronics engineer. However, May once mentioned the legendary Led Zeppelin founder, guitarist and producer Jimmy Page as a “master of invention”.

In 2020, Brian May was elected by the readers of Total Guitar magazine as the greatest guitarist of all time. Shocked by that poll, the Queen co-founder talked about many other guitarists in an interview for the magazine and praised Jimmy Page. “He’s almost my generation, but a little bit older, and we went to the same primary school, although he was, I think, two or three years above me – and that’s a lot when you’re small. So I always looked up to him, I gotta say, because he’s kind of a local boy to me.”

“Strangely enough, we live quite close to each other at the moment. To me, he’s a master of invention, that’s what I would say. And he’s a major, major force in defining what heavy rock became as it was being born. I never get fed up of listening to those Zeppelin albums, and I never will.”

He continued:

“And it’s a funny feeling as well, because we were boys trying to do our thing and hoping that one day we might be rock stars and live their life, and listening to Communication Breakdown and Good Times Bad Times, I remember I had that feeling of, ‘Oh my god, he’s doing what I want to do and I either have to give up or else I have to try bloody hard,’” Brian May said.

In the same conversation, he joked saying that there must be something in the water of the area of Richmond, Twickenham and Feltham. The reason was because The Yardbirds came from there, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and of course, Jimmy Page.

He had the chance to see Led Zeppelin live before Queen existed

In 1969, many important things happened in the world as the first man on the moon, for example. But another really important thing for music happened in that year in England: Brian May and Roger Taylor went to see Led Zeppelin playing live.

May and Taylor already knew each other before Queen and even were part of another band called Smile. Both had the opportunity to go see Zeppelin playing live. He recalled that moment in an interview with BBC radio 2 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) back in 2019.

“‘Communication Breakdown’ from Led Zeppelin’s debut album. An amazing and earth shattering piece of work. So, in 1969 Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin II. They played 5 shows at the Lyceum Ballroom in London in October 1969. I was there with Rog (er Taylor). Seeing Zeppelin, for us was kind of exquisite torture, because they were what we wanted to be,” Brian May said.

In the following decades, May had the chance to meet Page many times. Curiously, there is a famous video recorded in 2005 when Jimmy Page, Brian May, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton are together meeting Queen Elizabeth II when they attended an event she hosted to honor the British music industry. She doesn’t seem to quite know them all.

Rafael Polcaro: I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG