On the doctor and the Red Special

Portrait of Brian May by David Cable
Brian May looks better than most rock stars his age.
Source: Wikipedia

This morning as I was working out Driven By You by Brian May came up on my playlist.  I love Queen’s music and this song comes from the third disc of their Greatest Hits compilation.  This disc contains quite a few collaborative recordings of Queen’s music, most made at tribute concerts after Freddy Mercury’s death, as well as a few solo recordings of Mercury’s.  Driven By You is in fact the only solo recording by any other Queen member included on the compilation, so I googled it.

It was released in 1991, mere days before Mercury’s death and became one of May’s biggest solo hits, reaching number six on the UK singles chart.

Curious, I googled Brian May and discovered a few interesting things:  I knew that he was the lead guitarist of Queen.  I did not know that his guitar, Red-Special, was home-built by him and his father from, among other things, an 18th century fireplace mantel and motorbike valve springs.  Brian May is also a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  Not a knight, but pretty close.

Brian May with Red Special guitar
Brian May in 1979 with his Red Special
Source: Wikipedia

But what really blew my mind is that he also has a PhD in astrophysics and had been the chancellor of a university for the past five years.  So, not only is he one kickass musician, but apparently he’s also super-smart.  This really makes me wonder about all those kids who drop out of high school to become rock stars.  Has anyone ever told them you can have it all?

Hey, I just realised something.  If the Queen were to confer a knighthood on Brian May, people could address him as Sir Doctor (though not “of TARDIS”, I think 😉  )

To get your weekend started right, here’s the song.  My favourite part?  That wicked guitar solo about two and a half minutes in, of course!  Enjoy.

5 thoughts on “On the doctor and the Red Special

  1. Brian May is one awesome figure – top astrophysicist, kick-ass musician…and, I think, the only person in the world to have ever performed ‘God Save The Queen’, on electric guitar, on the roof of Buckingham Palace…for the Queen. I mean, that’s like…wow. I think he’s also Chancellor of one of Britain’s better universities. Now, if only he were to appear as a guest on Dr Who… 🙂


    1. Now that would be cool. Or let him collaborate on writing an episode. I’m thinking him and Neil Gaiman?

      According to Wikipedia his term as Chancellor ended in May, but he’s also vice-president of the RSPCA. I didn’t mention that part.


      1. It would be an awesome episode…especially if Peter Jackson directed (and there’s talk of him doing just that with some sort of Dr Who ep). I think May’s involved in protesting a badger cull right now – I guess wearing his RSPCA hat. Fielded 300,000 votes of support.


  2. Have to say being a hardcore Doctor Who fan I was at first expecting a lot of Doctor Who! However this is fascinating. I think there must be a connection between being able to function highly in one area and being able to do so in others. Most artists I know are actually very intelligent people who express that through the creative side of themselves. This post is great inspiration to start exploring other areas of my brain!


    1. I admit that the title was intentionally misleading 😉 At least there was one Doctor Who reference in there.

      Glad if I can inspire. I have to admit the discovery inspired me as well, thus this post.


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