Although Queen is often remembered by Freddie Mercury’s powerful voice, stage presence and songwriting, the band wouldn’t certainly be the same without the guitarist Brian May. Born in Hampton Hill, Middlesex, England in 1947, he started his career when he was still a teenager and had a powerful secret weapon, which was the “Red Special”, a guitar built by him and his father.
Combined with his ability and the habit of playing the guitar using a coin instead of a pick, May has definitely one of the most unique guitar sounds in the world. It has always been the perfect combination for the music he composed alongside Freddie, John Deacon and Roger Taylor, helping to make Queen one of the most successful groups in the world.
Over the decades he was responsible for many classic and amazing guitar solos and May always liked to praise other artists that he loves. Once he even mentioned an unexpected guitar solo that in his opinion is brilliant.
The unexpected guitar solo that Brian May said is brilliant
Queen is one of those groups that were so successful and had many classic songs that they were able to cross the barrier of Rock and Roll and become a band that even people who don’t like the music genre know the band and often listen to them.
Queen did that naturally, never trying to follow trends or trying to become something they weren’t. Many other artists tried to follow that path and achieve a bigger audience. It’s something that happened to Rainbow, a band formed by the legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who first achieved fame with a Hard Rock and Heavy Metal sound, singing about wizards and other mystical stories.
After Ronnie James Dio decided to leave the band in 1979, Blackmore decided that it was time to change the band’s sound. So they try to be a band that could be played more often on the radio. With that in mind he recruited the singer Graham Bonnet and released the album “Down To Earth” (1979).
One of the most famous tracks of that record was “Since You Been Gone”, which was originally written by Russ Ballard. The single achieved gold certification with more than 400.000 copies sold in the United Kingdom. Also reaching the position 57 on the United States Billboard Hot 100.
Brian May praised the guitar solo and the song
In an interview for the 2015 documentary “Ritchie Blackmore Story” (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the Queen guitarist praised the track “Since You Been Gone”, saying that the guitar solo composed by Blackmore is brilliant.
“I think Cozy (Powell) was a perfect foil for Ritchie and I know even Cozy found it hard at times. Cozy used to tell me, ‘He ain’t easy, you know’. But I think Cozy had such a respect for Ritchie and likewise the other way around. So I think it was a great combination”
Brian May continued:
“I’ve seen Ritchie lose it with someone. I better not say who it is. But it was very explosive. He doesn’t suffer people to be fools. And I know Ritchie can be quite physical.”
“I love ‘Since You’re Been Gone’. It’s uncompromising and it has the perfect element of pop, which is you can sing it and it’s in your head all day. It’s passionate, it has a real tug on your emotions. But Ritchie’s in it and Ritchie is powering the whole thing (on guitar). The under solo is just brilliant. They did the immortal version of it,” Brian May said.
“Since You Been Gone” was first released by Russ Ballard on his 1976 album “Winning”. Besides Rainbow, other groups like Head East had covered the track in the late 70s. Curiously, Brian May himself played the track during his “Back To The Light” solo tour in 1993. At the time, the musician had in his band the drummer Cozy Powell, who originally recorded the track with Rainbow.
May says that people should talk more about Ritchie Blackmore
Brian May always praises Blackmore when he has the chance over the years. In conversation with My Planet Rocks in 2013 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he said that people should talk more about the Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist.
Brian said that you could never know what to expect when you went to see Purple or Rainbow. Because Blackmore always could do extraordinary things. “Ritchie Blackmore playing guitar, who is extraordinary. People don’t talk about Ritchie Blackmore enough. I don’t know why. But he was such a trailblazer and technically incredible, unpredictable in every possible way which is great. I mean, that’s what you love isn’t it?”
“You go to a gig and you want to see something which is not predictable, not like just reproducing something. You never knew what you were gonna see when you went to see Purple when Blackmore was in it, but also Rainbow.”
“This (Rainbow) was his own thing and it was wild and dangerous. This is a good Pop record but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is great Rock music in my opinion. I think it’s perfect,” Brian May said.