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“He’s beyond belief”: Brian May names his current favourite guitar players

“If I were that kind of person, I would be deeply jealous because I can’t do that shit. But I’m not, because I just love it…”

Brian May on stage with his Red Special guitar.

Image: Miikka Skaffari / Getty

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Brian May has been selecting his favourite guitarists of today, but there is one in particular who he especially admires.

You may have already guessed it – Nuno Bettencourt. Since his mighty solo on Extreme’s track Rise, he’s seemingly reached new heights of admiration from other guitar legends and industry figures.

May has nothing but high praise for Bettencourt, as he tells Guitar World for its new print issue, “He’s beyond belief. I know he’s influenced by me; he’s kind enough to say so, but he’s very influenced by Eddie Van Halen, as should be the case. He always pays wonderful tributes to Ed, and he has that magic in his fingers that Ed had, I think.”

He continues, “Nuno, to me, is just stratospheric in the way he plays. These are the people I adore, really. And if I were that kind of person, I would be deeply jealous because I can’t do that shit. [Laughs] But I’m not, because I just love it; I love seeing him do it…

“I’m awestruck by all sorts of people I see on the internet. I’m on Instagram and there’s so many kids out there that are just beyond belief in terms of technique. They start where we left off, and I couldn’t even go there. I couldn’t even begin to emulate the stuff they do… And I should mention my friend Arielle.”

Interestingly, Arielle was actually discovered by Bettencourt back in 2010. She went on to tour with greats such as Heart, Joan Jett, Joe Bonamassa, Guns N’ Roses, and was handpicked by May himself to play guitar for the Queen-inspired musical We Will Rock You.

“She’s very expressive, very free and old-school in many ways,” May says. “She loves analogue recording; she loves the old tubes and stuff. She’s a beautiful player. Her tone is magnificent. And there’s still this thing in every business where women are slightly undervalued. It’s changing, thank God, but she’s experienced people not quite taking her as seriously as they would have. But she’s an awesome player.”

Elsewhere, May also selects Steve Lukather as one of his top choices: “His ability when he moves into the jazz area is phenomenal. But he’s a rock player through and through, and his technique is indescribable. I don’t know if he’s on people’s list of the world’s greatest guitarists, but to me, he’s unforgettable and a model of what a guitar player should be.”

And Paul Crook, who he has “great admiration for”: “Not only for his amazing fireworks guitars but also for taking over the production of those [Meat Loaf] albums and absolutely maximising whatever power Meat had left, who was fighting a hard battle.”

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