Brian May pays tribute to beloved dad who gave blessing to pursue Queen career

22 April 2022, 13:28

Brian May became a global guitar icon with Queen, but it could've been a very different story.
Brian May became a global guitar icon with Queen, but it could've been a very different story. Picture: Instagram/Brian May/Matthew Baker

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

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Brian May has been one of the most celebrated guitarists in rock music for almost fifty years.

Alongside Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, Brian May reached levels of critical and commercial success with Queen that most musicians can only dream of.

But it could've been a very different story altogether, as May was pursuing other career ambitions at the time the band was starting to make a name for themselves.

He was studying for a Physics PhD, which he eventually abandoned when Queen's notoriety began to rise. Much to the dismay of his father, however.

It took some time for his father to accept his decision to pursue rock 'n' roll, but after seeing his son perform at Madison Square Garden in New York City, he finally came around.

To celebrate his father's 101st birthday recently, Brian shared a photo of his dad Harold as a young man, saying: "He gave me so much."

Sadly Harold May passed away at the age of 66, so missed out on seeing his son perform with Queen at the peak of their powers, such as their historic Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium.

Clearly, he still holds the memories of his dad close to his heart, after he finally accepted that Brian made the right choice in following his dreams with music.

The full caption states: "Yes - this is my great Daddy, as a boy in the 1930s. His name was Harold May, but in the family they called him ‘Son’. Today was his birthday and he has been in my mind all day. He gave me so much."

He continued with a tender send-off, writing: "Thanks kind folks for sending him birthday wishes. He would have been 101 years old today. Love you, Dad. Bri.”

A couple of years ago Brian shared a similar sentiment for Harold's 99th birthday, posting a picture of him and his parents backstage at Madison Square Garden on the night his father told him: "I get it now".

At the time he wrote: "This was the moment when my Dad finally shook my hand and said 'OK - I get it now'".

"A big moment for me, because my Dad had until that point been unable to accept the fact that I had thrown away my scientific career to become what he called a pop star.”

Harold actually had a fairly significant part to play in Queen's success, helping Brian create the iconic Red Special guitar which he wrote songs such as 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'A Kind Of Magic', and 'Don't Stop Me Now' on.

Several years ago Brian reminisced about his father's contributions to his career, saying: "He was a genius at handiwork and anything electrical - and of course, he worked with me creating the Red Special guitar which has been with me all around the world many times over the last 50 years. Amazing.”

In 2021 for his dad's centenary year, Brian posted a snippet from an interview where he and Harold talked about working on the Red Special together.

Brian was clearly in awe of his dad, and that still seems to be the case.

With Queen, Brian may have become one of the world's most successful and historic rock 'n' roll musicians.

But decades later, he did honour his father in completing his Physics PhD at Imperial College, London in 2007, picking up where he left off in 1974.

His revived thesis 'A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud', and was approved nearly forty years after it was begun as little research on the topic had been done in the time since.

Brian finally graduated as Dr Brian May in 2008, an achievement that would have undoubtedly made his father immensely proud.