Queen’s Brian May reflects on recovering from heart attack

Brian May says he had to “fight” his way back to good health after having a heart attack.

The Queen guitarist, 74, revealed last year that doctors had also treated him for multiple complications, including a stomach haemorrhage, and inserted three stents.

May discussed his recovery as he marked the reissue of his 1992 solo album Back To The Light, which was recorded and released during Queen’s final years with Freddie Mercury.

He told the PA news agency in central London: “What also happened was I got very sick. I got a heart attack for no reason I can possibly see. I didn’t really tick any of the boxes for heart attacks but I got it.

“That knocks you back, I have to say. It knocks the stuffing out of you. I had a lot of other complications.

“I had a really bad time for a few months and had to fight my way out of that. So that is another way of coming back to the light.”

May wrote Back To The Light during a time when his marriage to first wife Christine Mullen was breaking down, his father Harold died and Mercury became seriously ill with Aids.

Music – Queen – Heathrow Airport, London
Queen singer Freddie Mercury (PA)

He said: “It was the first song I was attempting to write – and I am talking about 30 years ago.

“I was in a very black place for reasons we probably don’t even need to discuss, but I have discussed in various places.

“I was in a very depressed state and thinking that I wouldn’t be able to find the light. So I started writing this song called Back To The Light and gave it a jolly chorus and a rather dark set of verses, and it was a wish list for me.

“It was like, ‘I hope this will set my path to find my way out of this mess that I am in’.”

May also reflected on the enduring legacy of Mercury, who was portrayed by Rami Malek in the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and recalled one of the last times they spoke.

He said: “I guess I never had the chance to really say goodbye but we came close because Freddie was very at peace during the end and he was conscious he didn’t have much more time.

Olivier Awards 2017 – London
Brian May and wife Anita Dobson (Chris J Ratclife/PA)

“We had some quiet time together which was very precious and I remember him saying to me, and me and Anita (Dobson, his second wife) were both here, and he said: ‘You guys don’t have to feel you need to entertain me. I just like you being here, it is nicer to share these moments.’

“So in a way we were saying goodbye in a very peaceful way.”

During a Q&A session, May admitted he had worried about striking out as a solo artist while Mercury was ill.

He said: “I was nervous about embarking on what would seem like a solo career at this very moment when Queen needed to be cohesive and behind Freddie.

“I didn’t say any of this to Freddie. I just looked at him and he said, ‘I know what you are thinking. You are worrying that this is going to be in some way detrimental or disrespectful to me because of what I am going through. Don’t even think that. Don’t even go there. You should embark on this as your solo career. It is the right time. Go for it’.”

The reissued version of Back To The Light is out now.