Brian May, the legendary guitarist of Queen, recently shared his thoughts on a remarkable collaboration that left an indelible mark on his musical journey. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of his Brian May + Friends ‘Star Fleet Project’ EP, which features iconic musician Eddie Van Halen, May revealed the profound impact of working with the Van Halen legend. The collaboration brought together exceptional talents, creating a fusion of musical brilliance that continues to inspire millions around the world. Let’s delve into Brian May’s reflections on his greatest collaboration and the inspirations that fueled the iconic ‘Star Fleet Project.’
Eddie Van Halen: A Musical Genius and a Joyful Soul
When asked to identify the best musician he ever collaborated with outside of Queen, Brian May had no hesitation in naming Eddie Van Halen. May spoke of Van Halen with awe and admiration, comparing him to the legendary Jimi Hendrix for his groundbreaking approach to the guitar. According to May, Van Halen took the instrument to new heights, adding an extra dimension to its sound that captivated millions. Beyond his musical genius, May also fondly remembered Eddie as a delightful individual, exuding innocence, fun, and light. The chemistry between the two musicians during the ‘Star Fleet Project’ collaboration was electric, and their moments together remain cherished memories for May.
May share his enthusiasm for Eddie Van Halen, saying:
“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.”
The Inspirations Behind the ‘Star Fleet Project’
Reflecting on the origins of the ‘Star Fleet Project,’ Brian May revealed two key inspirations that fueled its creation. The first was a theme tune for a Japanese science fiction TV series called ‘Star Fleet,’ a beloved show that May watched with his young son on Saturday mornings. The connection to the series and the shared joy it brought to their lives served as a starting point for May’s creative endeavor.
Additionally, May’s relocation to Los Angeles at the time played a pivotal role in the project’s genesis. Feeling a need for space from his band Queen, May found himself in a liberating environment in LA, igniting his social nerve and creative spirit. He reached out to fellow musicians, including his neighbor and drummer Alan Gratzer of REO Speedwagon, as well as the extraordinary guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Their enthusiastic response to May’s idea solidified the collaboration, which eventually included bassist Phil Chen and keyboardist Fred Mandel. The collective synergy of these exceptional talents led to the creation of the ‘Star Fleet Project,’ a milestone in May’s musical journey.
May described the process, stating:
“One (inspiration) was the song, which was a theme tune for a children’s TV series called Star Fleet. It was a science fiction Japanese adventure story, done with robots. I used to get up on Saturday mornings to watch it with my little boy, who was four or five at the time. The other inspiration was: I’m in LA, and I’m sort of separated from Queen because we needed some space. I just got up one morning and thought: ‘I could phone anyone – I could go and play.’ I don’t think it would have happened in London. I feel more free in Los Angeles, strangely enough – it kind of opens up my social nerve. I called my neighbor Alan Gratzer, the drummer from REO Speedwagon, and asked him if he thought the idea would work. Then I called Ed Van Halen, a friend who I didn’t see that much of and an extraordinary musician, and he went: ‘Tell me where and when, I’ll be there.’ Then I phoned up all the other guys: Phil Chen, then of Rod Stewart’s band, and Fred Mandel. Everybody said yes. It was amazing.”
Listen to their song collaboration below: