Brian May, the guitarist of the band Queen, is widely regarded as one of the best guitar players of his generation. While opinions about his band may differ among music enthusiasts, there is no denying May’s exceptional technical skills. With his trusted sixpence coin and custom Red Special guitar, May has showcased his talent and written numerous hit songs for Queen, including “We Will Rock You,” “Flash,” and “Tie Your Mother Down.”
May has always been a devoted student of the guitar and has drawn inspiration from various musicians, contributing to the diverse range of his abilities. In a 2013 interview with Liz Barnes on My Planet Rocks, May shared some of his favorite songs, which included tracks by artists like Buddy Holly and even his own band, Queen. During the conversation, May specifically mentioned Rainbow’s 1979 cover of Russ Ballard’s “Since You Been Gone.” Rainbow, formed in 1975 by former Deep Purple guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore and featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals, caught May’s attention.
When asked by the host to select an example of a “really good guitar track,” Brian May quickly pointed to “Since You Been Gone.” He praised Blackmore’s guitar playing as “extraordinary” and described the song itself as “perfect.”
Brian May expressed his admiration, saying, “What just popped into my head is ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ because I think it’s quintessential, maybe you could call it pop rock, but it’s uncompromising. It’s a great song, and it’s brilliantly played. The drums, my dear friend Cozy Powell, of course, who is no longer with us, worked with him, and it was an amazing experience.
He had rock running through his veins, an incredible guy. And then Ritchie Blackmore playing guitar, who is extraordinary. People don’t talk about Ritchie Blackmore enough, I don’t know why. But he was a trailblazer and technically incredible, always unpredictable in every possible way, and that’s great. I mean, that’s what you love, isn’t it?”
Brian May continued, “When you go to a concert, you want to see something that’s not predictable, something that’s not just a reproduction. So, you never knew what you were going to see when you watched Deep Purple with Blackmore or even Rainbow. Rainbow was his own venture, wild and daring. This is a fantastic pop record, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s great rock music, in my opinion. I think it’s perfect.”