Book Review: Brian Mays Red Special: The Story of the Home-made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World by Brian May and Simon Bradley
Whether you're a fan of queen, a guitar gear nerd, or just looking for a good rock 'n' roll read, you will find Brian May's Red Special to be an interesting book. Brian May takes the reader through a brief history of playing in his youth through playing with Freddie Mercury and beyond, playing for the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee celebration in London.
The book begins as Brian May starts playing guitar. He has an old acoustic, but he quickly grows out of it. When he asked for an electric guitar, he is told that they are too expensive. May tries to install pickups on the acoustic, but that doesn't work. May's father then agrees to help build the electric.
Everything about the guitar comes from their home. May's father kept a work space in their garage and would often work on random projects. He seemed to have a little bit of everything around. In the book, May details how they used wood from an old mantel for the body, mother of pearl buttons his mom had with her sewing supplies for the fret markers, and many discusses many aspects of the guitar. He talks about how he made things his own, doing things like having 24 frets on the neck -- something that was not a common feature of guitars of that time. It is fascinating that the Red Special sounded so good with parts so common.
The book also includes pictures and a few stories of shows and travels with the guitar. There is also a section on many of the different versions that manufactures have made, their copies of the Red Special. In addition to May's insight, there are two interviews with former guitar techs who had hands on experience working with the Red Special.
Brian May's Red Special is a light but entertaining read. It will appeal to music fans, queen fans, and guitar fans of all ages.