Weird and wonderful facts about Queen's Brian May

19 July 2020, 10:00 | Updated: 19 July 2020, 10:01

Queen guitarist Brian May
Queen guitarist Brian May. Picture: Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Find out interesting facts about the Bohemian Rhapsody guitarist including his age, spouse, songwriting credits, net worth and his famous handmade guitar.

Brian May is most known for being the guitarist of legendary British rock band Queen - playing alongside frontman Freddie Mercury, drummer Roger Taylor and former bassist John Deacon - but that's by no means where his list of achievements end.

Find out more about the Bohemian Rhapsody rocker, including his age, songs and solo work, net worth, qualifications, CBE and his famous spouse.

READ MORE: Why Did Queen write We Will Rock You?

  1. What is Brian May's full name?

    Brian May's full name is Brian Harold May.

  2. Where is Brian May from?

    Brian May was born in Hampton, Middlesex to Ruth Irving (Fletcher) and Harold May. His mother was Scottish and father was English.

  3. How old is Brian May?

    Brian May was born on 19 July 1947. At the time of writing this article he is 73 years old.

  4. Who is Brian May married to?

    Queen guitarist Brian May with wife and former EastEnders star Anita Dobson at the New York premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody
    Queen guitarist Brian May with wife and former EastEnders star Anita Dobson at the New York premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody. Picture: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

    The guitarist is famously married to former EastEnders star Anita Dobson, with the pair tying the knot in 2000.

    He was previously married to Christine Mullen, who he wed in 1976 and divorced in 1988.

    May first met soap star Dobson in 1986, and it is said the 1989 hit I Want It All was inspired by her.

  5. How many children does Brian May have?

    Brian May shares three children with his first wife Christine Mullen; James (15 June 1978), Louisa (22 May 1981) and Emily Ruth (18 February 1987).

  6. Which Queen songs did Brian May write?

    Brian May frequently wrote songs for Queen, including many of their arrangements.

    His most famous songwriting credits for the band include:

    We Will Rock You

    Who Wants to Live Forever

    Tie Your Mother Down

    I Want It All

    ...and many more - take a look here for more

  7. What solo albums and songs did Brian May release?

    May has two official solo albums Back to the Light (1992) and Another World (1998), which was in part a covers album.

    His notable singles include:

    Too Much Love Will Kill You

    Driven By You

    May also released an album called Furia (2000), composing the soundtrack for the film of the same name.

  8. What other bands was Brian May in?

    May's first band was formed at Hampton Grammar School, and they were named 1984 after George Orwell's book of the same nam.

    In 1968 May formed the band Smile. which included Tim Staffell and later Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

    In 1992 he officially formed The Brian May Band, which had a changing line-up which included the likes of Cozy Powell, Mike Moran, Rich Wakeman, Jamie Moses, Catherine Porter and more.

  9. What guitar does Brian May play?

    Queen's Brian May and his guitar The Red Special with Paul Rogers in concert at The National Indoor Arena (NIA), Birmingham, UK - 2008
    Queen's Brian May and his guitar The Red Special with Paul Rogers in concert at The National Indoor Arena (NIA), Birmingham, UK - 2008. Picture: Jamie Cooper/Shutterstock

    Brian May is most known for The Red Special - an electric guitar designed and built by himself and his father Harold when he was a teenager in the '60s.

    Sometimes referred to as the Fireplace - a reference to the fact that the wood used to make the neck came from a fireplace mantel - or the Old Lady, the guitar went on to define May's signature style.

    The guitar was designed specifically to feed back after May saw Jeff Beck playing live and making different sounds just by moving the guitar in front of the amplifier.

    The name Red Special came from the reddish-brown colour the guitar had after it was stained and painted with numerous layers of Rustins Plastic Coating.

  10. What is Brian May's net worth?

    According to, May is worth $210 million (approx £166.61m).

  11. Is Brian May a real doctor?

    Yes... but not the medical kind. May was awarded a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London for work started in 1971 and completed in 2007.

    He previously studied Mathematics and Physics at Imperial College London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1968 with honours.

  12. Is Brian May a Sir?

    Brian May holds his CBE medal at Buckingham Palace in London in 2005
    Brian May holds his CBE medal at Buckingham Palace in London in 2005. Picture: Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

    No. Brian May hasn't received a knighthood yet, but he is a CBE, which stands for the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

    Almost there Brian!

  13. What is Brian May's connection to Badgers?

    May has become a key figure in animal welfare.

    2013 saw him team up with actor Brian Blessed and Flash cartoonist Jonti "Weebl" Picking, as well as animal rights groups including the RSPCA to form Team Badger.

  14. Why does Brian May love hedgehogs?

    May is a huge advocate for the hedgehog too, often sharing images of hedgehogs he's rescued or brought back to life.

  15. Does he like any other animals?

    Yes, May seems to be fond of all wildlife.

    A recent Instagram post saw Brian May write: "Lizard alert ! We have a new pal at the wildlife rescue. (Save-Me HQ - aka Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue) We’re temporarily looking after this lovely chap. We call him Eddie - Eddie Lizard !"

  16. What else is Brian May passionate about?

    Brian May is very passionate about ecological issues, including recycling and wants to make it easier to recycle our plastic waste in the UK.

  17. Who plays Brian May in the Bohemian Rhapsody film?

    May is played in Bohemian Rhapsody by Welsh actor Gwilym Lee.

Watch Brian May play the guitar solo to Bohemian Rhapsody as the cast look on:

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