Since I shared a post a few days ago about my admiration for Mark Knopfler’s artistry on the guitar, I thought it only fair that I make brief mention of my original Guitar Hero, Brian May of Queen fame; make that, Dr. Brian May.  When Queen hit it big in the early ’70s, May already had degrees in physics and mathematics and was working on a Ph.D. at Imperial College, London.  Rock superstardom demanded a full-time commitment, so he shelved his studies for the next 30 years.  He occasionally published papers, but did not resume his doctoral pursuits until rather recently.  In October of 2007, May completed requirements for his doctorate in astrophysics.  His dissertation was entitled, A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.   May also has a great interest in stereo photography and has authored a book to be released next February entitled, A Village Lost and Found, which focuses on a series of stereo images of an Oxfordshire village taken by T. R. Williams in the 1850s.

May’s distinctive musical sound can be largely attributed to the Red Special, the guitar that he and his father built together when May was a teenager and which still serves as his primary “axe.”  Much of the wood in the Red Special came from a fireplace mantel.  May’s performance of Last Horizon above is from the Return of the Champions concert DVD released in 2005.  There aren’t too many astrophysicists who can play like this!