Brian May’s Red Special

Brian May’s Red Special

The Story of the Home-Made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World

by Brian May with Simon Bradley


Brian May and his father Harold started to hand-build an electric guitar in 1963. Brian dreamed of a guitar that would outperform any of the existing commercially made electric guitars; his father had the technical knowledge and skills to help make the dream come true. Brian played his guitar on every Queen album and in all of Queen’s live shows around the world.

In Brian May’s Red Special (October 2014, Hal Leonard Books, $30) fans will discover everything they ever wished to know about Brian’s unique instrument. Brian talks about every aspect of the Red Special, from its birth to playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, from Live Aid to the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics – and beyond. All of this is accompanied with original diagrams, sketches and notes dating from the building of the guitar, as well as a great selection of photographs including Brian on stage with his guitar, close-ups and x-rays.

“My dad and I decided to make an electric guitar. I designed an instrument from scratch, with the intention that it would have a capability beyond anything that was out there, more tunable, with a greater range of pitches and sounds, with a better tremolo, and with a capability of feeding back through the air in a ‘good’ way’.”

Featuring rare and previously unreleased photographs of Brian and his father, Queen, and the Red Special, including photographs of the guitar fully dismantled, Brian May’s Red Special is the story of a truly unique instrument, told by the man who has been playing it for more than half a century.

October 14, 2014
8.5″ x 11”

144 pages


Brian May is best known as the lead guitarist of the supergroup Queen. In addition, he has a PhD in Astrophysics and is an expert in 3D photography. He co-wrote Bang! The Complete History of the Universe with Chris Lintott and Patrick Moore, A Village Lost and Found with Elena Vidal, and Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell with Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming. He lives in London.

Simon Bradley has been a professional guitar journalist since 1966 and is currently a multimedia editor at Guitarist magazine. He has also written for Total Guitar, What Guitar?, Guitar Techniques, SFX, T3, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Future Music, Computer Music, Rhythm, and many websites. He lives in London.




Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on October 7, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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