Queen’s Brian May Recalls Dedicating Song to Eric Clapton: ’I Think He Hated It’

Guitar legend and the founding member of Queen, Brian May, looked back on a song he dedicated to another iconic 6-string player, Eric Clapton. Released as a part of May’s 1983 “Star Fleet Project” album, the Queen guitarist reveals that Clapton was most likely not very fond of this piece.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the “Star Fleet Project,” Brian sat down with to discuss the album’s legacy. The song “Blues Breaker” was dedicated to Clapton, which was seen in the liner notes. When the interviewer reminded him about Clapton’s negative comments about the song back in the day, Brian replied:

“I think he hated it! [Laughs] But that’s OK; 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.”

Bluesbreakers: Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, Phil Chen, Alan Gratzer

As May adds, Clapton may not be the person he’s on the same page with on a lot of things. However, that doesn’t diminish his musicianship and influence:

“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.”

“I always get goosebumps if I get to be anywhere near him. When I’m playing with him, the couple of times I’ve done it, it’s a wonderful moment, experience.”

Brian May, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck meets the Queen

Brian May’s new project featured some pretty exciting big names of rock music at the time. Of course, there was Eddie Van Halen on guitar. But there was also Alan Gratzer of REO Speedwagon on drums, Phil Chen on bass, and Fred Mandel on Keyboards. The record also featured Queen drummer Roger Taylor doing backing vocals on one of the songs.

When reminded of this all-star lineup, Brian said:

“We were being Californians for a short period there; my little boy went to nursery school and we actually got involved in L.A. life. Alan was my neighbor; we saw quite a bit of each other and became good friends but had never until that moment played with each other.”

Brian May - Star Licks (Guitar Tutorial 1983) - Full Version

“Fred Mandell is a virtuoso piano player that we’d just gotten to know in connection to Queen, and Phil Chen is just an injection of energy, this kind of Caribbean joy that came out of his body, coming from England by way of Jamaica.”

“I phone him up and said, ‘You want to come over and play? I’m thinking of getting a little session together’ and he went, ‘Yes, me old chile. I’ll come over, no problem!’ [Laughs]”

“They’re all fantastic players, and I thought, ‘How great would it be to get all these guys in the studio and see what happens?’ We all go in there and suddenly it’s happening and the tape is rolling and it’s just the joy of discovery — discovery of each other and creating a different arena, a different universe, almost.”

Phil Chen at Norman's Rare Guitars

When asked how Eddie Van Halen ended up being a part of this, Brian said:

“Ed I knew as a friend but I’d very seldom had a chance to hang out with him; I got very drunk with him one night, very ill-advisedly…but that’s another story. (laughs) With Ed, I set him up. I wanted to hear what happened when you put Ed as a firework on a stage and lit the blue touch paper and stood back to see what happens.”

“I gave him that stage in the middle of the [‘Star Fleet’] song; that to me was the climax of the whole song, the bit where Ed steps forward and does his own thing, unfettered by anything. He steps in and it comes out completely out of his head — that’s not an overdub, he just does it.”

Brian May + Friends - Star Fleet (2023 Music Video) [New Mix]

“Every time he does it it’s different, ‘cause his brain’s constantly creating new stuff, which to me is one of the great joys of the [box set]. I love to hear the different version of what he came up with. What an extraordinary, extraordinary player he was, just incredible.”

May also reflected on what the album means to him at this point. Sure, it wasn’t a major super-successful release but the Queen guitarist does feel like it has a lot of value:

“It’s a very important part of what I am, I think, and it’s something I really wanted to be buttoned up and safe and out there for all time. It’s a precious moment that I felt was getting lost on some shelf in amidst the dust, and I just wanted it to be out there so that people could experience it the way I experienced it. It means a lot to me to get it out there, just so it will always be there.”

Brian May - Star Fleet Sessions: How It Began (Episode 1)

In one of his YouTube videos shared recently about the album, May also reflected on meeting Eddie Van Halen for the first time. As he recalled, this happened back in 1978 when Van Halen went on tour with Black Sabbath:

“Eddie Van Halen was a phenomenon and I guess that hardly needs saying. I met him for the first time through Tony Iommi, my great friend from Black Sabbath when I was watching the two of them, and Van Halen were opening up for Black Sabbath.”

“I mean, that was something to see. It was in a Circus Krone in Munich. And I hadn’t seen Tony for a while and I’d never seen Van Halen. Luckily, I got there in time to see him play. And I was just, ‘Wow, what is this? What is this guy? What is he doing?’ I can’t even begin to figure out how his fingers are moving, what he’s doing.”

Van Halen 09 22 1978 Fresno

“It was a bit like seeing Jimi Hendrix for the first time, like, ‘How does anyone do that? What has he got that is so magical that we’ve never seen before?’ And Edward was incredible that night.”

“And we all got together, Tony and me and Eddie. And then I guess there was an instant bonding because Ed told us both that he’d been massively influenced by us, which is great. So we had lots to talk about. And then I guess we became friends.”

Photos: Raph_PH (TaylorHawkTributeWemb030922 (208 copped)), Raph_PH (Eric Clapton – Royal Albert Hall – Wednesday 24th May 2017 EricClaptonRAH240517-27 (34176529243))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.