He’s one of the world’s greatest rock guitarists, holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics, is a commander of the Order of the British Empire and he jammed with Lady Gaga at the VMAs. OK, it was Jo Calderone , but you know what we mean.
And if you didn’t know who Queen’s Brian May was before, you certainly did after his fiery cameo during Gaga’s VMA-opening “Yoü and I” on Sunday night. Wearing all black, the British rock icon came out midway through a drag-king-tastic set for the ages, bumping hips with Jo as he/she busted open a beer and ripping off some of his legendary, spiraling riffs. Smiling broadly and walking carefully around the unpredictable Calderone, May leaned in close as Jo/Gaga threatened to expose his/her chest and shared a heartfelt hug with his new-era gender-bending pal.
May, 64, played the majestic guitar solo on the recorded version of the song, which was produced by rock master Mutt Lange (Shania Twain, AC/DC). So it was fitting that he would join Mother Monster onstage at the Nokia Theatre to re-create the epic hookup between rock and pop royalty for the big show.
Gaga, an avowed classic-rock fan, was looking for a big, meaty sound on the fourth single from Born This Way, and May was just the man for the gig. He formed legendary theatrical rock act Queen in 1971 with late singer Freddie Mercury, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. Together, the quartet made rock history on albums such as Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera, News of the World, Jazz and The Game, which spawned such classic-rock radio staples as “Killer Queen,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
The group’s 1984 album, The Works, also featured the song that would give Gaga her now-inescapable stage name, “Radio Gaga.” While setting sales and concert-attendance records with Queen, May also explored some solo work in the 1980s, collaborating on the album Star Fleet Project with Van Halen’s Eddie Van Halen and continuing his solo output with 1991’s Back to the Light, which he released after Mercury’s death in 1991.
He’s also performed and recorded sporadically with the remaining members of Queen and appeared on such reality singing shows as England’s “The X Factor” and “American Idol” in 2009 , where he jammed with winner and runner-up Kris Allen and Adam Lambert.