52 guitarists, week 14—Brian May

I’d like to point out at this stage in my 52 guitarists series that I am clearly not an expert on each and every guitarist I write about. That’s OK. I’m not writing biographies here. I’m writing about guitarists that have influenced me and hopefully explaining along the way how and why they influenced me. Because this is my website. My rules. Heck, I could type “The coolest guitarists are those who have tinkered with their own guitars and not just played them off the shelf”. Luckily I could say that in this week’s entry and still make it relevant because Brain May is that kind of guitarist.

As someone who gathered a series of guitar parts to build his own Notcaster—not a real Telecaster—I do happen to believe in that statement I just made coincidentally. Integrity maintained.

Obviously Brian May is an inspirational guitarist for many more reasons than his ability to construct a guitar that is as sought after as his Red Special. He’s also an inspirational guitarist because he has produced some truly phenomenal guitar parts in his time with Queen. I could showcase the obvious right now—Bohemian Rhapsody—but as epic as the guitar parts may be in that song, they aren’t my personal favourites. But more on what is later.

As a guitarist I admire Brian May for his ability to approach the guitar in ways most guitarists don’t. For example, Brian May has been known to use gold plated strings. Add to that his use of a sixpence coin for a plectrum and you can see how he has often been thinking outside of the box. The more I think about it, the guitar style applied to many Queen tracks is not what constitutes a popular music track. But Brian May and Queen were not about doing things the way other bands were doing them.

In regards to my personal favourite Brian May guitar moments, there are two that come to mind. The first is perhaps a relatively obvious choice to many Queen fans.

I could easily make this my guitar-related them song now that I think about it. I am a bit greedy when it comes to guitars and their related accessories.

But my favourite Queen track is one I came across when watching the film Iron Eagle from 1986. It was a cinematic masterpiece that featured Louis Gossett Jr and Jason Gedrick. The track that makes the track memorable to me 40 years later is One Vision. The opening guitar riff is so simple, but so damn brutal. I could play this all day long and feel like an absolute rockstar.

With one simple song Brian May showed how versatile his guitar playing could be. Blistering solos when required. Riffs like a master at other times.

I think it’s time to go listen to the simple yet epic tune We Will Rock You. I’ll be back next week after some epic fist pumps.

This is not a top guitarists list and there is no significance in the order the guitarists are placed in the list. This is simply a collection of guitarists that have been influential to me.

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