Top 10 Rock Guitarists Of All Time – #8 Brian May (Queen)

You’re going to love this article about one of the best rock guitarists of all time. In this article, we’ll be diving into the talents of #8 on our list, Brian May from Queen. If you’re a fan of rock music and have always admired the power and beauty of the guitar, then you’re in for a treat. Brian May’s contributions to rock music are legendary, and we’ll be exploring his iconic style, his impact on the genre, and some of his most memorable performances. So, grab your air guitar and get ready to rock out with Brian May!

But wait, there’s more! In the remaining articles of this series, we’ll be showcasing the top 10 rock guitarists of all time. Each article will highlight a different musician who has left an indelible mark on the world of rock music. From the pioneers of the genre to the modern-day legends, we’ll be covering it all.   So Far we have named Pete Townshend as the #10 of all time and Carlos Santana as #9!  So, stay tuned and get ready to discover the incredible talent and influence of these extraordinary musicians.

Whether you’re a die-hard rock fan or just curious about the world of guitar virtuosos, this series is sure to captivate and inspire you. Let’s embark on this musical journey together!

Top 10 Rock Guitarists Of All Time - #8 Brian May (Queen)


Welcome to the third article in our series on the top 10 Rock guitarists of all time. In this article, we will discuss the immense talent and contribution of Brian May, the lead guitarist of the iconic band Queen. Brian May’s unique style, innovative techniques, and unforgettable solos have made him one of the most influential guitarists in the history of Rock music.

Before we delve into the details of his life and career, let’s recap the previous articles. In our first article, we explored the genius of Jimi Hendrix, followed by the blues-inspired brilliance of Eric Clapton. We then moved on to the unmatched skills of Eddie Van Halen, the virtuosity of Jimmy Page, the soulful playing of David Gilmour, the lightning-fast fingers of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the mesmerizing talent of Slash. Now, let’s dive into the world of Brian May.

Background information

Brian May was born on July 19, 1947, in Hampton, Middlesex, England. From a young age, he showed a keen interest in music and demonstrated a natural aptitude for playing various instruments. May’s interest in music was fostered by his parents, who exposed him to a wide range of genres and artists, including the likes of Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Les Paul.

Purpose of the article

The purpose of this article is to shed light on Brian May’s remarkable journey as a guitarist and to celebrate his immense contributions to the world of Rock music. We will delve into his early life and upbringing, explore his role in the formation of Queen, examine his unique guitar style, highlight his most iconic songs and solos, discuss his influence and impact, and explore his collaborations and solo career. We will also take a look at the instruments and equipment that May has used throughout his illustrious career, as well as his achievements and awards.

Brian May’s Early Life

Childhood and upbringing

Brian May’s childhood was filled with music and creativity. He developed a deep love for the guitar and spent countless hours practicing and honing his skills. His parents recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue his passion. In his early years, May built his own guitars from scratch and experimented with different sounds and techniques.

Musical influences

May drew inspiration from a diverse range of musical influences. His early exposure to artists like Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Les Paul played a significant role in shaping his musical style. May also took inspiration from blues and rock guitarists, including Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. These influences would later contribute to the unique sound and style for which May became renowned.

Top 10 Rock Guitarists Of All Time - #8 Brian May (Queen)

Formation of Queen

Queen’s origins and lineup

Queen was formed in 1970 with May, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor coming together to create a sound that would revolutionize the Rock music scene. Each member brought their own distinct style and musicality to the band, and the combination of their talents resulted in a truly unique sound.

Brian May’s role in the band

As the lead guitarist of Queen, Brian May played a pivotal role in crafting the band’s sound. His melodic and intricate guitar solos became a trademark of Queen’s music, and his rhythm guitar playing provided a solid foundation for the songs. May’s ability to seamlessly blend different genres and his innovative songwriting ensured that Queen’s music remained fresh and timeless.

Brian May’s Guitar Style

Unique techniques and sound

Brian May’s guitar style is instantly recognizable and distinct. His use of harmonies, intricate fingerpicking, and orchestral techniques helped create a larger-than-life sound for the band. May also incorporated guitar orchestrations and layered guitar parts, giving the music a symphonic quality. His innovative approach to playing the guitar set him apart from his contemporaries and continues to influence musicians to this day.

Innovation and experimentation

May was a true innovator in the world of Rock guitar. He constantly pushed boundaries and experimented with new soundscapes. One of his most notable inventions was the “Red Special,” a guitar that he built with his father from scratch. This unique instrument, with its distinct tone and sustain, became May’s signature guitar and played an integral role in defining his sound.

Iconic Songs and Solos

Key tracks showcasing May’s guitar skills

Brian May’s guitar skills are showcased in numerous Queen songs, but some key tracks stand out as true testaments to his talent. Songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with its intricate guitar arrangements and epic solo, “Killer Queen,” featuring May’s melodic and harmonious playing, and “We Will Rock You,” with its simple yet powerful guitar riff, have become timeless classics.

Memorable solos and riffs

May’s guitar solos and riffs are etched in the collective memory of Rock music enthusiasts. The soaring solo in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the anthemic riffs in “Tie Your Mother Down,” and the emotional solo in “Who Wants to Live Forever” are just a few examples of May’s unforgettable contributions to Queen’s discography. His ability to convey emotion through his guitar playing is unparalleled.

Influence and Impact

Inspiring future generations of guitarists

Brian May’s influence extends far beyond his time with Queen. His unique guitar style and innovative techniques have inspired countless guitarists around the world. His ability to create unforgettable melodies and his groundbreaking approach to songwriting have cemented his status as one of the all-time greats.

Recognition within the music industry

May’s contributions to the music industry have not gone unnoticed. He has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His impact on Rock music continues to be celebrated, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless artists across different genres.

Collaborations and Solo Career

Brian May’s work outside of Queen

In addition to his work with Queen, Brian May has also pursued a successful solo career. He has released several albums, including “Back to the Light” and “Another World,” which showcase his immense talent as a singer-songwriter. May’s solo work explores different musical styles and highlights his versatility as an artist.

Notable collaborations and solo projects

May has also collaborated with various artists outside of Queen, including Paul McCartney, George Michael, and Foo Fighters. These collaborations have allowed him to explore different musical territories and showcase his talent in new and exciting ways. May’s ability to seamlessly adapt to different musical styles is a testament to his versatility as a guitarist and musician.

Instruments and Equipment

Brian May’s signature guitar

One of the most distinct aspects of Brian May’s guitar playing is his use of the “Red Special.” This guitar, which May built with his father, has a unique design and sound. Its construction, using materials like fireplace tiles and motorcycle valve springs, contributes to its distinct tone and sustain. The “Red Special” has become synonymous with May’s playing and is an essential part of his sound.

Other gear and effects used by May

In addition to the “Red Special,” May has utilized various other guitars and equipment throughout his career. He has been known to use Gibson Les Paul guitars, Fender Stratocasters, and a range of effects pedals to create different sounds and textures. May’s attention to detail when it comes to his gear and equipment has played a significant role in shaping his sound.

Achievements and Awards

Recognition and accolades

Brian May’s immense talent and contributions to Rock music have earned him widespread recognition and numerous awards. He has won awards for his songwriting, guitar playing, and contributions to the music industry as a whole. May’s ability to captivate audiences with his virtuosity and creativity has earned him a rightful place amongst the greatest guitarists of all time.

Hall of Fame inductions

May’s impact on the music industry is evident in his inductions into prestigious Hall of Fames. In addition to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Queen, May has also been honored with induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. These inductions are a testament to May’s lasting influence and his significance in the history of Rock music.


In conclusion, Brian May’s brilliance as a guitarist is undeniable. His unique style, innovative techniques, and unforgettable solos have solidified his place as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. May’s ability to combine melody, emotion, and technical proficiency has had a profound impact on the world of Rock music.

Throughout his career, May has inspired countless guitarists and musicians and has left an indelible mark on the music industry. His contributions to Queen, as well as his solo work and collaborations, showcase his versatility and creative genius.

As we move forward with our series on the top 10 Rock guitarists of all time, we can’t help but be awestruck by the immense talent of Brian May. His ranking at number 8 is a testament to his extraordinary impact on the world of Rock music.

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James Walker

Hi, I'm James Walker, and I have a deep understanding of guitars as a dedicated educator and enthusiast. With years of experience, I enjoy imparting my extensive knowledge of guitars and techniques to aspiring players. Through teaching, I inspire a love for music and empower students to reach their full potential on the guitar.

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