“I have a lot of favorite memories, but I do remember one time him coming to see [Queen] play,” May recalled. “We went back to the hotel afterwards. He’d brought a bottle of his favorite drink with him, which I think was Southern Comfort. Anyway, he’s knocking it back, and so I started knocking it back, and I completely lost it. The next thing I remember I was on the floor in the bathroom, having fallen down and cracked my head on the washbasin. I don’t even remember going into the bathroom. It’s one of the few times in my life where I’ve gotten out of control.”
The artists first met backstage in Munich early in Van Halen’s career as their respective bands opened for Black Sabbath. They bonded over their mutual love for guitars, later swapping two of their custom-made instruments during the making of May’s 1983 Star Fleet Project mini-LP. “I sounded like me on his guitar and he sounded like him on my guitar,” May said with a laugh in a 2020 interview with Guitar World.
The idea for the Star Fleet Project was born after May got hooked on the Japanese TV show X Bomber (renamed Star Fleet in the U.K) and became inspired to rerecord the show’s theme song with the help of several musician friends. “I know Edward played the solo on Star Fleet three times,” May said in an interview last year with UCR. “Each time it was incredible. Each time it was different.” The project turned out to be a collaboration of rock titans and a rare journey outside of Van Halen for the band’s namesake guitarist.
“Van Halen” may be one of the most recognizable names in rock music, but the late founder wasn’t always a fan of the moniker that became attached to him personally, according to May. “I don’t like to call him Eddie,” the Queen guitarist said in the UCR interview. “He always used to say, “I don’t like this ‘Eddie Van Halen’ thing! I’m Edward!”
The Best Song From Every Queen Album
A thread runs through it all: a hard-won sense of individuality. Queen were a band like no other.