Queen guitarist Brian May has decided to pay tribute to Buddy Holly by covering one of the songwriter’s compositions, partially for the experience – May says he has never covered a Holly number – and partially because of May’s genuine affection for the 1950s icon. The rendition will be released to the public on April 14th.
“I heard Buddy Holly make that incredible sound on his guitar, that clang, singing that beautiful song, hearing those wonderful harmonies of the Crickets,” May recalls. “And it completely motivated me. I just thought, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to make music that does that to people, makes them feel this kind of yearning, makes them feel this joy and passion.’”
The guitarist is in the process of re-issuing Another World, his second solo work, and one that was written following the death of Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury. Drummer Cozy Powell died during the recording of Another World, and May released the single ‘Business’ in tribute to the deceased percussionist. The album was originally released in 1998, and the guitarist appeared as himself in an episode of the BBC comedy series Smith and Jones.
More recently, May has acted as custodian of the Queen legacy with bandmate Roger Taylor. Bassist John Deacon is still alive as of the time of print, but retired from the band following the release of 1997 single ‘No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)’. Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers collaborated with May and Taylor on The Cosmos Rocks, but he left their orbit in 2009. Since 2011, Queen has toured with Adam Lambert, an American singer who pops up in Bohemian Rhapsody, the film that centred on Freddie Mercury’s life.
In his interview with Far Out, May explained that he found it difficult to finish recording Back To The Light, his first solo album, as he was still processing the death of Mercury. “For me, it was nice to finish up the album with something that was pure joy,” he explained.”I was able to be reckless with it because the record’s out there, and nobody can spoil that. I can play anything I like, but I’d like to play the way I feel. It has this great [imitates guitar] riff to it. It’s archetypal: it’s in the river of rock! I like the sentiment, and I love Steve Marriott as a vocalist. He’s one of the great unrecognised geniuses of vocalists.”
Stream May’s cameo in Smith and Jones below.