The musician Brian May named the “god of guitar”

In the realm of rock and roll, a handful of names resound with unparalleled reverence and esteem. Brian May, often hailed as the “deity of the guitar,” embarks on a journey that transforms him from an ardent music connoisseur into an iconic maestro. Let’s delve into the extraordinary life and profound influences that have shaped the artistry of this legendary musician.

Brian May’s musical odyssey commenced in the heart of the countercultural maelstrom of the 1960s. This was an era characterized by the meteoric ascent of rock music. During his adolescent years, May found himself immersed in a cultural revolution that would indelibly influence his musical sensibilities.

May’s evolution as a guitar virtuoso was profoundly molded by the musical luminaries he held in high regard during his formative years. Rather than replicating the style of a solitary artist, he aspired to amalgamate the artistic essence of legends such as Buddy Holly, James Burton, Hank Marvin, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Pete Townshend from The Who. These virtuosos served as the guiding stars that ignited the fervor for the six-stringed instrument within him.

May vividly reminisces the countless hours he spent, concealed beneath his bedcovers, with headphones ensconced. Among his musical idols, Little Richard stands out distinctly. It was an epiphany, a moment of sheer astonishment, and yet, it was also the joy of recognizing that people could indeed vocalize in such an extraordinary manner. He fondly recalls, “When I first heard Little Richard, it was a moment of shock, but there was also the joy of realising that people could actually sing that way.”

Among his array of influences, Pete Townshend holds a sacred place in the depths of Brian May’s heart. He has even likened Townshend to a deity of the guitar. The zenith of May’s admiration for Townshend was reached during a live performance by The Who in London, an event he attended in 1969.

At a mere 22 years of age, fresh off the formation of Queen, May had the privilege of witnessing The Who in their full glory. This experience can only be described as a masterclass in the artistry of rock ‘n’ roll. Townshend’s influence could not have been more timely in May’s burgeoning career.

In a candid conversation with BBC Radio 2, May reflected on his formative years and the indelible impact of The Who: “They came from Shepherds Bush. Very much a local phenomenon for us and we used to go and see them. Rog(er Taylor) and me. It was about the most dangerous concert you could ever go to. Because you never knew if they would turn up, to start with.”

He continued, “And when they did turn up it was mayhem let loose. It was just so loud, dangerous and anarchic, I guess. This was long before punk. So I think The Who kind of wrote the recipe for punk, if you like. So they played local to us and we went to see them a lot. We followed them, we loved them. They ripped out the rulebook”.

In a separate interview with Total Guitar, May provided insight into how Pete Townshend’s artistic prowess served as a blueprint for Queen’s musical ventures: “We (Queen) wanted to take people off into the stratosphere. It’s always been that way with us. We were inspired by our heroes to do that, and I put The Who way up top of that list. Pete Townshend is the master of mood change, a master of the suspended chord. I owe so much to him.”

He further extolled Townshend’s guitar virtuosity, noting, “I’d seen feedback. I’d seen Pete Townshend – again, wow! Pete Townshend’s a god of guitar and always will be! I’d seen him stand there and let the guitar explode into life on its own.”

Brian May’s transformation from an ardent music aficionado into a virtuoso of guitars par excellence stands as a testament to the profound impact of musical influences and the indelible mark left by the countercultural movement of the 1960s. The memory of experiencing The Who live and the mastery of Pete Townshend’s guitar artistry are etched in the annals of his heart, serving as an eternal fount of inspiration in his journey with Queen.

In conclusion, Brian May’s musical voyage and his heartfelt homage to his muses serve as a poignant reminder of the timeless influence of music and the enduring legacy of the world of rock ‘n’ roll.


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