Brian May says Eddie Van Halen is the best musician he’s ever collaborated with

“He never seemed to try, nothing was ever difficult for him – he just had those magic fingers.”

[L-R] Brian May and Eddie Van Halen

Credit: Getty Images

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Brian May has worked with his share of musicians over the course of his decades-long career, but there’s one who stands out to him as the most gifted: Eddie Van Halen.

In a new piece by The Guardian – in which the Queen legend answers fan questions – he’s asked “out of the dozens of musicians” he’s collaborated with, “who was the best on their given instrument?”

And he’s quick to name the late guitar icon, recalling working with him on his 1983 Star Fleet Project mini album, which has been reissued this month.

“He’s incredible. Like Jimi Hendrix, he took the guitar to a new place, he gave it an extra dimension and millions of people have followed him,” May says.

“He was a wonderful guy to be around, too: very innocent, very full of fun and light. He never seemed to try, nothing was ever difficult for him – he just had those magic fingers. We’d never worked together before Star Fleet, only hung out – it was really glorious to be around him and have those moments.

Elsewhere in the interview, May reveals the guitarists who inspired him the most as a young player.

“The Shadows’ Hank Marvin was an inspiration for all of us kids. He had an amazing, melodic, fluid sound,” he says. “At the more rock ’n’ roll end, there is James Burton, one of the originators of rock guitar playing, who played for Elvis and Ricky Nelson. I was lucky enough to play with him recently. He’s a real inspiration. It’s not just the sound – it’s the fact that he can bend strings, and make the guitar speak.”

Last year, Brian May said his Star Fleet Project reissue revives “one of the greatest things” Eddie Van Halen ever did.

“I was never fond of the original mix of Star Fleet, the single, so we cleaned that up,” he said. “Now, EVH’s sound is larger than life. You’ll hear the development of Eddie’s solo, which I always thought was one of the greatest things he did… a real immortal classic of Ed Van Halen pieces.”

Star Fleet Sessions is out now.


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