In the vast tapestry of music history, there are certain milestones that deserve a momentous celebration. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Queen icon Brian May‘s iconic “Star Fleet Project,” a musical endeavor that not only showcased his extraordinary talent but also featured an exceptional collaboration with the late guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen. As a box set commemorates this milestone, we delve into the dynamic stories behind the project, including May’s tribute to Eric Clapton and the unexpected twists that shaped the album’s creation.
At the heart of the celebration lies the box set, a treasure trove of musical brilliance and rare gems. It includes a track that pays homage to Eric Clapton, aptly titled “Blues Breaker.” However, over the years, Clapton’s response to May’s homage has been lukewarm, if not outright dismissive. In a recent interview with “Cleveland,” May shared his perspective on Clapton’s reaction, saying, “I think he hated it! But that’s okay; he’s entitled. He can do what he wants. I mean, Eric could do anything and he’ll still be our hero. That’s the way it is.”
As reported by UG – May’s admiration for Clapton remains unwavering, despite any differences. The Queen guitarist, renowned astrophysicist, and Knight of the Realm acknowledged Clapton’s immense influence on his life, stating, “There’s probably lots of things I disagree with Eric about, but that doesn’t change anything. He’s been one of the greatest influences, inspirations of my life, and that’ll never change.” The profound respect and reverence May holds for Clapton exemplify the enduring impact that musical legends have on one another, transcending personal opinions and forging connections through their craft.
Amidst the reflections on Eric Clapton, May’s journey through the creation of the “Star Fleet Project” album takes center stage in a captivating video series on his YouTube channel. Recounting the genesis of his collaboration with Eddie Van Halen, May painted a picture of serendipity and creative freedom. Feeling the need for a break in 1983, May found himself in Los Angeles with a world of possibilities before him. Inspired by the sunny surroundings and the company of friends, he embarked on a phone call that would shape the project’s trajectory.
May reminisced, “I got on the phone to Ed Van Halen. ‘Do you fancy coming in the studio? Yeah. I mean, yeah.'” This impromptu collaboration brought together an all-star lineup, including bassist Phil Chen, keyboardist Fred Mandel, and REO Speedwagon drummer Alan Gratzer, who resided just a stone’s throw away from May’s L.A. home. The diverse talents assembled formed a perfect ensemble to breathe life into May’s vision.
With ideas percolating in his mind, May had a clear objective for the project—to infuse a rock edge into a TV series theme. He aimed to transform the theme tune of the Japanese cartoon sci-fi series “Starfleet” into a rock anthem. The result was an audacious experiment in sound, providing a platform for Eddie Van Halen’s incendiary guitar prowess. May desired to see what Van Halen could create when given the freedom to unleash his creativity on the track.
As May revealed, “I wanted to be loose. I wanted to go in there, prepared, but prepared for anything. So if we get ideas, we can go off at tangents, etc.” This willingness to embrace spontaneity and follow the muse wherever it led added an element of excitement and unpredictability to the recording process, resulting in a final product that exceeded expectations.