By Tom Mailey
In 2006, after more than a decade off the road following the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May decided to get the band back together–at least in some form; bassist John Deacon declined to join them–and they ended up touring Europe and America with Paul Rodgers, a rock vocalist as legendary as Mercury who played with bands like Free and Bad Company.
When their American tour was announced, there was a date scheduled in San Jose. Being a fan of the band from when I was just a kid, I knew I had to go, and got tickets.
Well, our station music director at the time, Matt Vieira, knew how big a fan I was and so used his connections to set up a phone interview in advance of the concert between myself and Brian May.
You have to understand, one of the reasons I got into radio, literally, was because I figured it would allow me at some point to interview Queen. As it turned out, I ended up in country radio. So for Matt to set this up, well, I still owe him.
BUT, at first, I didn’t believe him. Matt’s an excellent prankster and after my initial excitement subsided I started thinking of ways this could be a joke on me. And that’s when I figured it out: at the time there was a TV sportscaster in town named Bryan May. And instantly, I knew what Matt was up to. So when I went into the recording studio at the appointed time for the call (with Matt right there, grinning), I was bracing myself.
So, all of the above is just a big set up to the opening of the interview below which–and this is the truth–I have never listened to all the way through until now, because I always feared hearing how dorky I sounded. We played a bit of it back on our show at the time, and I think it was posted on our then-website, but I’ve never listened to the whole thing back until today (and yes, most of my fears were confirmed–I sound like a dork). In fact, I totally forgot our old friend “Rockin'” Randy Peterson was in to help me out.
But, with this weekend’s success of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, I figure there will never be a better time to share this, even if some of the subject matter, like references to their 2006 tour, is dated.
So when you hear me start the interview by saying “Is this really Brian?” That’s a genuine question–remember, I’m thinking it’s “Bryan”. And when he replies with “Is this really Tom?” in that unmistakable accent of his, well, the next 12 minutes or so are kinda fuzzy. It is certainly not the greatest interview ever, but despite my geekiness, you can still hear the genuine kindness, thoughtfulness and sense of humor that I always admired about Brian May, in addition to his ridiculously creative musical mind. So, here ya go. Excuse me while I duck out. I can’t listen again!