Nev recalls his first meeting with Brian May.
I’D BEEN AT Guitarist mag just months when my boss bumped into Brian May at an event and asked if he’d be willing to talk to us. He agreed and it was arranged for me to visit Queen’s office in Notting Hill. Brian’s one stipulation was, “Don’t be late, as I have to be elsewhere later that day.” I’ve always had an issue with poor punctuality so no problem there. How wrong could I be?
I lived in north Essex so gave myself 90 minutes extra just in case. The office was the other side of London, it was pre sat-nav and mobile phone but I was confident I’d get there on time. I would have done, too, had it not been for an accident that shut the A12 for two hours. I was stranded, I daren’t abandon the car and was in blind panic with my blood pressure peaking off the scale.
I arrived 45 minutes late, parked on the pavement, dashed in and squeaked my apologies. Brian was as nice as pie: “Better move your car or you’ll be clamped,” he said. I duly did so and returned. He was at a filing cabinet choosing cover shots, pulled out a few nice ones and ushered me to follow him upstairs to where our chat would take place.
Only then did I notice he was wearing white clogs. Now, no one wore white clogs in 1985. Except Brian. Oh, and me! How foolish I felt as we clomped up the uncarpeted wooden stairs in our matching white clogs. I had no idea of Brian’s taste in footwear and was convinced he’d think I was some idiot fan who aped everything he did.
We sat down, I switched on my recorder and Brian opened a huge flightcase to reveal the Red Special: “Here’s the battered relic,” he said, handing it to me. I made various comments about its build, playability and finish and we talked for a further hour, all the while me clutching the iconic guitar.
The interview went great. We bade our farewells and I dashed back to the car, itching to put the tape into my cassette player and listen back. Horror of horrors! I’d noodled through it from start to finish, but honestly had no idea I’d played a note! I nearly died, and I cringe even now as I recall it, but Brian didn’t say a thing.
Do enjoy Jon Bishop’s feature on the playing of this unique guitarist and, as you can see, one of rock’s real gents.
And I’ll see you soon.