Brian May suffers heart attack amid excruciating pain - and thinks his guitar strap could be to blame

Brian May of Queen performs at ANZ Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
(Image credit: Don Arnold/WireImage)

Brian May has been making headlines throughout the COVID-19 quarantine period, first for teaching Bohemian Rhapsody and inspiring countless collaborative jams, then for tearing his buttocks in a freak gardening accident. And now the Queen guitarist has admitted he recently suffered a heart attack, which left him “near death”.

In a new Instagram post, the Queen guitarist revealed that he continued to experience pain for a week after returning home from his gardening injury earlier this month.

Upon his return to hospital, an MRI scan revealed he had a severely compressed sciatic nerve - something May contributes to “50 years of running around with a guitar strap over my left shoulder holding a heavy guitar… But it probably was all worth it!”

The guitar hero also discovered that a 40-minute period of chest pain and tightness during his gardening injury had, in fact, been a small heart attack. He has since had stents implanted to restore the flow of blood to blocked arteries.

“I’m incredibly grateful that I now have a life to lead again,” said May. “I was actually very near death because of this, but the pain that I had was from something completely different.”

Fortunately, May is still in good spirits - even joking about one particularly pertinent Queen album title…

“Sheer Heart Attack, eh?” he said. “Well, I think I always worried a little bit about that album title. I wondered if it might upset some people who had actually had heart attacks. I’m actually quite relieved now that I’m in that club - and I don’t find it upsetting at all!”

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on on May 24, 2020 at 7:42pm PDT

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Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar (opens in new tab), Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as the best part of 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe (opens in new tab).