The author of some of the greatest riffs and sweetest solos in rock history, Queen’s Brian May knows a thing or two about making a guitar sing. So when our pals at Total Guitar were granted an exclusive audience with the 73-year-old musician, and, unprompted, he spoke with genuine passion about his favourite guitar solo of all time, we felt compelled to listen in.
“It’s [Eric] Clapton, Key To Love, from John Mayall’s Blues Breakers [with Eric Clapton] album,” May revealed. “It’s the hottest, burning, high-passion piece I’ve ever heard in my life – still to this day. I just love it. It totally rips, and I’ll never get over that. That’s one of my great inspirations.“
“He burned in that solo!’ enthuses May. “The whole track revolves around that solo. Every time I put it on, I’m just waiting... John Mayall’s great, but you’re waiting for that moment when Eric rips out and suddenly he’s whacking into those top notes. It’s incredible. Absolutely spine-chilling.“
Asked by Total Guitar’s Chris Bird to nominate a favourite Queen guitar solo, May goes deep, nominating his work on Killer Queen from 1974’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Killer Queen has always been a favourite of mine,” he says. “Again, that was always in my head. It was something a bit more complex, an adventure in putting guitar harmonies into the solo. It was quite a step into the unknown, that solo, and it has a melody that I put in there which doesn’t appear anywhere else in the song.”
“My dream was to use the guitar as an orchestra instrument, and I was lucky enough to make the dream come true.,” May adds.“The Killer Queen solo was the first time I really managed to get the harmony thing across, and all those harmonies move about, they’re not just following each other parallel – they all interact like a small jazz band would do.”
“With Killer Queen, it worked out so nice. I would probably put that forward as the one that perhaps I would want people to remember me by.”