(hennemusic) Queen explore the guitar solo Brian May performs in concert in latest episode of the band's 50th anniversary video series The Greatest.
May delivers all Queen music with his custom-made Red Special guitar, which he designed and built with his father when he was 16 years old; it was later replicated, with slight modifications, in the early 2000s.
The rocker's extended solo is a defining feature of Queen's live shows, using delay effects and a mix of set and improvised portions as it evolved through the years.
"The guitar solo, it's half and half," explains May. "There are certain things which I know are going to be good things to try, but basically it's improvised. But there are certain things which will always be in there because they work.
"I had to be very careful because you can fall into a trap. If something works great and you get a good response, the tendency is to keep doing it, but it doesn't work that way. You've got to, sort of, take it to its natural peak and then let it go and try something else because things get old. You know, you have to keep yourself fresh and the audience fresh."
"Sometimes I would get fed up with it," he admits. "Sometimes I really would curtail it and not want to do the whole thing, and then sometimes the mood would be right and you go for it and it would just be great."
When Queen resumed touring in the 2000s, first with Paul Rodgers, and now with Adam Lambert, the Guitar Solo had evolved once more, and to this very day continues to produce a moment that's unique to each performance.
May's solo on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was recently named by Total Guitar readers as the greatest guitar solo of all time. Asked when receiving his award the one he holds in the highest regard? His solo on Queen's 1974 hit, "Killer Queen. "It has always been a favourite of mine," May told the magazine. "It was something a bit more complex, an adventure in putting guitar harmonies into the solo."
For those interested in learning more about Brian's historic relationship with his hand-built guitar that rocked Queen and the world, he has recently issued an updated version of his Red Special book co-written with Simon Bradley; additions include 2 brand new chapters and an updated Galley chapter. Watch the episode here.