BRIAN MAY praises KURT COBAIN: “ he gave us a legacy of some of the greatest guitar music of all time”
During a recent appearance on SiriusXM‘s “The Howard Stern Show”, QUEEN‘s Brian May was asked how he feels about having recently been named the greatest guitarist of all time by the readers of U.K.’s Total Guitar magazine. He responded: “I take everything like that with a pinch of salt, really, ’cause you can’t say who’s best. The nice thing about guitar playing is that everybody’s different. You can’t really rank people. Of course I’ve got my favorites too. But the fact that people put me in that position makes me smile. It’s a lovely feeling.”
He continued: “I’m not in the first million guitarists in the world; I know that. There’s people I listen to every day that do things that I could never do. Nuno, I listen to Nuno Bettencourt (EXTREME) 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 Eddie 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.
“So, there are so many wonderful guitarists. 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.”
Regarding his own personal approach to playing guitar, Brian said: “All I ever did, really, was play the way I feel and make the guitar my voice. I play like I would like to sing. I’m not the world’s greatest singer. I’m not the world’s greatest guitarist either, but thank you for saying so. But I can speak with the guitar; I can make it sing; and that’s all I do. It just comes inside.
“I don’t think any guitarist should feel like they have anything to prove,” May added. “It’s not a competition. Kurt Cobain (NIRVANA) 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, May was officially knighted by King Charles. The 74-year-old King made the legendary QUEEN guitarist a Knight Bachelor during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. May was awarded the honor for his services to music and charity.
May was previously appointed a CBE in 2005, while QUEEN drummer Roger Taylor was made an OBE in the 2020 New Year Honours.