Brian May Biography

Brian Harold May was born on July 19th, 1947 in Hampton, Middlesex. At the age of 5, he was enrolled in piano lessons, which he hated, as he had to practice on Saturdays. Brian’s father enjoyed making things, and Brian took after this. When he was 6, he learned how to play the ukulele. Soon, Brian wanted to take up guitar, and for his 7th birthday, he got a Spanish Acoustic. However the guitar was too large for him, and was in need of modification. With the help of his father, they carved down the wooden bridge to make to strings lower. Brian wanted an electric sound, and he created himself a pickup by twisting copper wire around 3 small magnets.Although he hated piano, he kept in lessons till the age of 9. He stuck with the guitar, but his acoustic just wasn’t good enough anymore. Money was short, and guitars on the market were quite expensive, so Brian & his father, who were both great at making things, came up with the idea to build Brian’s guitar.Finding the parts was not easy. The neck was hand carven by Brian from an old fireplace mantle that a friend, whose house was being renovated, was throwing out. The body was made from a piece of oak and whatever other wood he & his father could find. Fret markers were made from buttons from his mother’s button box. When Brian was trying to make pickups, he ran into a problem, as he could not get the sound he wanted, so he bought 3 burns pickups, which he modified himself. The bridge was hand carven out of steel, and the tremolo system included 2 springs taken off of an old motorbike. The whammy bar was the kickstand of an old bike. The work of art became known as the Red Special.Later, Brian attended Hampton Grammar School, now just Hampton School. Whilst going here, he formed his first band with Tim Staffell, called 1984 after a George Orwell’s novel.After graduating from H. G. S. with 10 O levels, Brian went on to study astronomy at Imperial College in London. Eventually, Brian & Tim formed Smile, with Roger Taylor. Ultimately, Tim left, Freddie joined (and later John), and they formed the epic band Queen. Brian was partway through his Ph.D programme, studying reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System, when Queen became successful. He didn’t complete his thesis until 2007.
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