It isn’t every day that a legend joins with Astronomy magazine, so the brand is proud to announce that astronomer, songwriter, producer, and performer Brian May has joined the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. May, 64, is of course known around the world as guitarist, songwriter, and singer for Queen, one of the most successful bands in the history of rock ’n’ roll (the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001). Not everyone knows that May also is a Ph.D. astronomer, having studied astrophysics at Imperial College London just as Queen was gaining success, leaving his postgraduate work in 1970 for full-time band work, and then returning years later to finish his doctorate. May’s dissertation dealt with radial velocities in the zodiacal dust cloud. He also co-authored the book Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) with Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott.
May’s musical career began in earnest with the group Smile in 1968, which included Roger Taylor as drummer and led to meeting Freddie Mercury and John Deacon. These four musicians formed Queen soon thereafter. May’s guitar work in the band with his famous “Red Special” homebuilt guitar is among the most celebrated in pop music, and his backing vocals added much to the group. May’s songwriting credits include “We Will Rock You,” “Tie Your Mother Down,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Hammer to Fall,” “I Want It All,” “The Show Must Go On,” “Save Me,” “39” (which is about relativistic space travel), “Who Wants to Live Forever,” and many others. His credits include 22 top 20 hits worldwide.
May has also performed and produced solo work with The Brian May Band, explored more Queen material with Queen + Paul Rodgers, ventured into writing and producing in musical theater, and produced and played with a large number of other musicians. He has recently toured with British singer Kerry Ellis on an “Anthems” tour. In 2005 May was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to the music industry.
May continues to be actively interested in astronomy as well as animal welfare, and for more on his many activities, check out: www.brianmay.com.
An upcoming issue of Astronomy will feature May’s first contribution to our magazine. Stay tuned for more!