Brian May, English guitarist with British rock band Queen was born July 19th 1947. In 1968 May formed the band Smile with Tim Staffell as the lead singer and bassist, and later, drummer Roger Taylor, who also went on to play for Queen. However in 1970 Staffell departed leaving the band with a catalogue of nine songs. Smile reunited on 22 December 1992. Taylor’s band The Cross were headliners, and he brought May and Staffell on to play “Earth” and “Carpenter”. May also performed several other songs that night. Following Staffell’s departure in 1970. Freddie Mercury joined the band shortly thereafter, changed the name of the band to “Queen”alongside, Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar, guitars), who was recruited prior to recording their eponymous debut album, and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Queen’s earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works, incorporating more diverse and innovative styles in their music. Before joining Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had been playing together in a band named Smile with bassist Tim Staffell. Freddie Mercury (then known as Farrokh/ Freddie Bulsara) was a fan of Smile, and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques
Queen enjoyed success in the UK with their debut and its follow-up, Queen II (1974), but it was the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera (1975) that gained the band international success. The latter featured “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which stayed at number one in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks; it charted at number one in several other territories, and gave the band their first top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Their 1977 album, News of the World, contained two of rock’s most recognisable anthems, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world, and their performance at 1985′s Live Aid is regarded as one of the greatest in rock history. May generally sang the lower-range backing vocalist. On some of his songs, he sings the lead vocals, most notably the first verse of “Who Wants to Live Forever”, the final verse of “Mother Love”, the middle eight on “I Want It All” and “Flash’s Theme”, and full lead vocals on “Some Day One Day”, “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettoes)”, “’39”, “Good Company”, “Long Away”, “All Dead, All Dead”, “Sleeping on the Sidewalk”, “Leaving Home Ain’t Easy” and “Sail Away Sweet Sister. May also composed many great songs such as “We Will Rock You”, “Tie Your Mother Down”, “I Want It All”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Who Wants To Live Forever” and “The Show Must Go On”, “Hammer to Fall”, “Flash”, “Now I’m Here”, “Brighton Rock”, “The Prophet’s Song”, “Las Palabras de Amor”, “No-One But You” and “Save Me”.
After the Live Aid concert, in 1985 Queen released “One Vision”. For their 1989 release album, The Miracle, the band had decided that all of the tracks would be credited to the entire band, no matter who had been the main writer. May composed the songs “I Want It All” and “Scandal” (based on his personal problems with the British press). For the rest of the album he did not contribute so much creatively, although he helped in building the basis of “Party” and “Was It All Worth It” and created the guitar riff of “Chinese Torture”. On Queen’s next album Innuendo May’s contributions increased, for the title track he did some of the arrangement for the heavy solo, then he added vocal harmonies to “I’m Going Slightly Mad” and composed the solo of “These Are the Days of Our Lives”, a song for which the four of them decided the keyboard parts together. He changed the tempo and key of Mercury’s song “The Hitman” and took it under his wing, even singing guide vocal in the demo. May also co-wrote some of the guitar lines in “Bijou” .
Sadly In 1991, Freddie Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of AIDS, and Deacon retired in 1997. Since then, May and Taylor have infrequently performed together, including a collaboration with Paul Rodgers under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers which ended in May 2009.The band have released a total of 18 number one albums, 18 number one singles, and 10 number one DVDs. Two songs that May had composed for his first solo album, “Headlong” and “I Can’t Live With You”, eventually ended up on Queen albums. His other composition was “The Show Must Go On”, a group effort in which he was the coordinator and primary composer, but in which they all had input, Deacon and Taylor with the famous chord sequence. In recent years, he has supervised the remastering of Queen albums and various DVD and greatest hits releases.
In 2004, May and Taylor announced that they would reunite and return to touring in 2005, with Paul Rodgers (founder and former lead singer of Free and Bad Company). Brian May’s website also stated that Rodgers would be “featured with” Queen as Queen + Paul Rodgers, not replacing the late Freddie Mercury. The retired John Deacon would not be participating. Between 2005 and 2006 Queen and Paul Rodgers embarked on a world tour, the first leg being Europe and the second, Japan and the US in 2006. On 25 May 2006, Queen received the inaugural VH1 Rock Honors at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, and May and Taylor were joined on stage with the Foo Fighters to perform a selection of Queen songs. On 15 August 2006, May confirmed through his website and fan club that Queen + Paul Rodgers would begin producing their first studio album beginning in October, to be recorded at a “secret location”. The album, titled The Cosmos Rocks, was released in Europe on 12 September 2008 and in the United States on 28 October 2008. Following the album the band again toured through Europe and parts of the US, opening on Kharkiv’s freedom square in front of 350,000 Ukrainian fans. The show in Ukraine was later released on DVD. Queen and Paul Rodgers officially split up on 12 May 2009. Rodgers does not rule out the possibility of working together again.
Soon after performing with American Idol finalists Kris Allen and Adam Lambert during the programme’s season finale in 2009, May and Taylor contemplated Queen’s future following the amicable split with frontman Paul Rodgers. Two years later, at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards, Queen was presented that year’s Global Icon Award, accepted by May. As part of the broadcast, Queen performed a short set with Lambert, receiving an overwhelmingly welcoming response. In 2012 they announced a short summer tour of Europe including three dates at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, as well as shows in Ukraine, Russia and Poland. As with the partnership with Paul Rodgers, John Deacon did not participate. They performed together in 2013 at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on 20 September. May, Taylor and Lambert toured North America on Good Morning America. Due to ticket demand, more dates were soon added including shows in Australia and New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, UK, Europe and South America at the Rock in Rio Festival. In 2016, the group toured Europe and Asia on the Queen + Adam Lambert 2016 Summer Festival Tour and also closed the Isle of Wight Festival. they performed “Who Wants to Live Forever” as a tribute to the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. On 12 September they performed at the Park Hayarkon in Tel-Aviv, Israel in front of 58,000 people
Queen received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1990, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. May was also appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005 for “services to the music industry and for charity work”. May was awarded a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007 and was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013. He was a “science team collaborator” with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He is also a co-founder of the awareness campaign, Asteroid Day. Asteroid 52665 Brianmay was named after him. May is also an animal rights activist, campaigning against the hunting of foxes and the culling of badgers in the UK.