Watch Brian May and his father discuss the Red Special in a vintage video clip

Brian May Red Special
(Image credit: Instagram/Brian May)

There are few guitars as iconic as Brian May’s homemade Red Special, which he famously built with his father as a teenager in the early 1960s.

Now, to commemorate what would have been May Sr.’s 100th birthday, the Queen electric guitar legend has posted a short clip to his Instagram page of father and son discussing the Red Special in an old video interview.

“Queen’s distinctive guitar sound emanates from the cheapest piece of equipment the band owns,” begins the narration, after which May explains that the guitar is “all made from strange objects, pieces of junk really, a fireplace.”

As for May’s father, he says that when he hears a Queen record, “I always know when it’s this guitar.”

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

A photo posted by on

Wrote May in the accompanying Instagram post, “Happy Birthday to my dear ol’ Dad. Long gone to the next place, of course, but always in my heart. And today he would have been 100 years old. But in this video he was younger than I am today.”

He continued, “[T]his is enough to remind me so clearly of the way my Dad spoke – a sound from a world that is no more, and his body language, and his pride in what we’d made together, even though it led me to abandon his dreams for what I might become. Maybe I should write a book about my Dad – because his gifts to me were many and everlasting. Happy Birthday Dad. I love you. Bri.”

You can check out the clip above. 

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Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.