2017: A year in the life of Brian May
"Just out of this world" – that’s how his life in Queen is summed up by Brian May – or rather, Doctor Brian May, CBE, for whom 2017 has been another memorable year in a career of many
In July 18, 2017, when Queen + Adam Lambert played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, 20,000 people sang Happy Birthday to one of the band, who would be turning 70 just a few hours after the show ended: Brian May. Reaching such a landmark was a rather strange experience for Queen’s guitarist – now Dr Brian May, CBE, let us not forget. “I can’t really believe that I’m that age,” he says. “It’s really odd.”
It has been a busy year for the doc. The Queen + Adam Lambert tour ran through North America and Europe, heading into the UK at the end of November. A 40th-anniversary box-set reissue of Queen’s classic album News Of The World was released. And there was May’s book Queen In 3-D, featuring hundreds of previously unpublished photographs that he shot on vintage stereoscopic cameras throughout his career with the band, plus his written account of Queen’s history – as close as he has come to writing a full autobiography.
Twenty-six years since the death of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, and 20 years since bassist John Deacon retired from the music industry, May and drummer Roger Taylor are not yet ready to let go of the band they co-founded back in 1970. “I don’t want to retire,” says May, adding with a wry smile: “I’m just thankful that I got to this point.”
May talks to Classic Rock about the past, present and future of Queen, the long-awaited Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Axl Rose, Elton John, and why it would be nice if people called him ‘Doctor’.
For many Queen fans it’s taken a while, but do you feel that Adam Lambert has now really proven himself as the singer for the band?
He has. Adam is amazing, he really is. I constantly wonder where that came from. How did the universe manage to make that happen?
Could you see Queen making a new studio album with Adam?
I don’t know. We enjoy interpreting the canon, the oeuvre, and that’s as far as we’ve got.
Has this latest tour been fun, hard work, a bit of both?
It’s still hard pressing the button to be away from home for two months at a time, more than a couple of times a year. But it’s worth it because something great happens. There’s magic, and you see joy in people’s faces. It’s what it always was. Somehow it’s all worth it.