Queen’s Brian May has spilled the beans on his favourite guitarists of all time.
The guitarist spoke about this while discussing the recent fan-voted all time great guitarist list, which was collated by Total Guitar.
The magazine picked Brian May as number one, but despite this May was keen to speak about what guitarists inspire him, as opposed to his own personal glory.
Speaking about the list, Brian May paid tribute to some of his all time favourites, including Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, Nuno Bettencourt, while paying particular tribute to the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
“The nice thing about guitar playing is that everybody’s different”, May said on the list itself.
“You can’t really rank people. Of course I’ve got my favourites too. But the fact that people put me in that position makes me smile. It’s a lovely feeling”.
Playing down his own personal achievement of reaching top spot, Brian May listed his all time favourite guitarists.
“I’m not in the first million guitarists in the world; I know that”, he insisted. “There’s people I listen to every day that do things that I could never do”.
May then revealed, “I listen to [Extreme/Rihanna guitarist] Nuno Bettencourt and I just smile because it’s so beautiful and it’s so way out of what I could ever do. It doesn’t bother me, ’cause I don’t feel in competition. I just love the guy and I love what he does”.
“Same with Jeff Beck. Same with Ed Van Halen. We worked together, and it was the most wonderful experience. My jaw dropped every time he touched the strings. It was just beautiful”.
“There are so many wonderful guitarists”, May continued. “Steve Vai is just colossal, beautiful. And of course I still have my old heroes. Eric Clapton is still my hero. Jimi Hendrix is still my hero. Of course — it’s always gonna be that way. Jeff Beck, to me, is something so exceptional and outside anything you could have imagined”.
“anything to prove”
One musician who came in for partular praise by May was the late Kurt Cobain, former frontman of Nirvana.
Speaking of Cobain, May stated that he was a wonderful example of a guitarist who did not feel the pressure of having anything to prove.
“I don’t think any guitarist should feel like they have anything to prove”, he said.
“It’s not a competition. Kurt Cobain is a great example. There’s not a lot of technical stuff there, and he didn’t work that hard at being technical, and yet he gives us a legacy of some of the greatest guitar music of all time. So it’s not about technique. It’s about what you put into it and what you feel and how that feeling gets across in your guitar playing”.
Earlier this month, Brian May insisted that he has no intention of slowing down after receiving his knighthood.
Later this year, Queen who are fronted by Adam Lambert will embark on a US Tour, with tickets going on sale from Friday 31 March at 10am. More information here.