“Even when Freddie was nothing and nobody, he was Jimi Hendrix in his mind. And I enabled him to have that at his fingertips”: Brian May on his symbiotic songwriting relationship with Freddie Mercury – and the guitar innovations he never got credit for

Brian May plays onstage with his Red Special
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)

His tone is unmistakable, his solos are breathtaking and his influence is boundless. Even if somehow, some way, you’ve managed to make it this far without knowing his name, undoubtedly, Brian May’s music – most likely with Queen – has been a part of your life.

With his trusty, self-built Red Special guitar in hand and a sixpence between his fingers, May – beside Freddie Mercury, his partner in crime – charged through soaring guitar solos and melodic riffs soaked through cuts like We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody and Hammer to Fall.

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.