Brian May: 9 interesting facts about the Queen guitarist

23 July 2018, 16:43 | Updated: 24 July 2018, 14:29

Brian May
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

He's one of the world's most successful and recognisable guitarists of all time (and not just because of the hair).

Now that the Queen and Freddie Mercury movie Bohemian Rhapsody is on the way, let's take a look at the most interesting and important facts about the legend that is Brian May.

  1. What are Brian May's best solo songs?

    Outside of Queen, Brian May has released two solo albums: 1992's Back to the Light and 1998's Another World.

    His biggest solo songs were 'Driven By You' and 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' from his debut album (the latter of which was re-tooled with Freddie Mercury's vocals in 1995). He also teamed up with rapper Dappy for the 2012 track 'Rockstar'.

    He also provided the soundtrack to the 1999 movie Furia, starring a young Marion Cotillard.

    11 fascinating Freddie Mercury facts

  2. Who is Brian May's wife?

    Brian May and Anita Dobson
    Picture: PA

    From 1974 to 1988, Brian May was married to Christine Mullen.

    Brian met EastEnders actress Anita Dobson in 1986, and she inspired him to write the 1989 hit 'I Want It All'. They married on 18 November 2000, and remain together ever since.

  3. How many children does Brian May have?

    With his first wife Christine Mullen, he has three children: James (born 15 June 1978), Louisa (born 22 May 1981), and Emily Ruth (born 18 February 1987).

  4. How old is Brian May?

    Brian May was born on July 19, 1941.

    He celebrated his 71st birthday in 2018.

  5. What is Brian May's guitar of choice?

    Brian May mainly used his "Red Special", which he designed when he was only 16 years old. It was made with wood from an 18th century fireplace.

    He said of his guitar: "I like a big neck – thick, flat and wide. I lacquered the fingerboard with Rustin's Plastic Coating. The tremolo is interesting in that the arm's made from an old bicycle saddle bag carrier, the knob at the end's off a knitting needle and the springs are valve springs from an old motorbike."

    He also prefers to use coins, instead of a more traditional plastic plectrum, as it gives him more control in playing. He is known to carry coins in his pockets specifically for this purpose.

  6. Is Brian May also a scientist?

    Brian May studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc (Hons) degree and ARCS in physics with Upper Second-Class Honours.

    From 1970 to 1974, he also studied for a PhD degree at Imperial College, studying reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System. The title alone sounds very technical!

    However, when Queen found success, he abandoned his studies, but co-authored two peer reviewed research papers, which were based on his observations at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife.

    In 2006, May re-registered for his PhD at Imperial College and submitted his thesis in August 2007. He graduated at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 May 2008.

  7. What is Brian May's connection with badgers?

    Brian May
    Picture: Getty

    Brian May formed a group to promote animal welfare. Save Me (named after the Queen song), campaigns for the protection of all animals against unnecessary and degrading treatment, particularly focusing on the hunting of foxes and the culling of badgers.

    He has said that he would rather be remembered for his animal rights work than for his music or scientific work.

  8. Which actor is playing Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody?

    British actor Gwilym Lee will play Brian May in the upcoming movie Bohemian Rhapsody.

    Lee is perhaps best known for playing DS Charlie Nelson in Midsomer Murders and the 2017 drama Jamestown.

  9. What is Brian May's net worth?

    Brian May has an estimated net worth of £133 million ($175m), according to The Richest.