Brian Harold May CBE (born July 19, 1947) is an English musician and astrophysicist, most widely known as the lead guitarist in the rock band Queen. He was ranked as the 39th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. He was recently appointed Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.
May was born in Hampton, in Richmond, and attended Hampton Grammar School (now Hampton School) where he excelled at Mathematics and Science and achieved 10 GCE O levels and four A Levels in Physics, Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Additional Mathematics. He was also a member of the school dramatics society.
May's father Harold worked as a draughtsman at the Ministry of Aviation. He had been a long-time cigarette-smoker, and this likely contributed to his early death. As a result, May dislikes smoking, even to the point where he has prohibited smoking indoors at his more recent concerts.
His avoidance of alcohol can be traced to an early concert where Queen played with the band Aerosmith, and May had a conversation with fellow guitarist Joe Perry backstage. Perry brought out a bottle of whisky and shared it with May.
He has stated in interviews that he suffered from depression in the late 1980s, even to the point of contemplating suicide, and that drug use would have worsened any problems he faced. At the time, during the recording sessions of the Queen album The Miracle, he was splitting up with his wife Chrissy, his father died, and as a result of Freddie Mercury's illness, Queen retired from touring.
May married actress Anita Dobson, who played Angie Watts in EastEnders, on November 18, 2000. He has three children: James (Jimmy) (1978), Louisa (1981), and Emily Ruth (1987) from his first marriage to Chrissy Mullens. May lives in West End, Surrey.