Brian May’s 1978 Fender Telecaster

This is the guitar that Brian often used to play Crazy Little Thing Called Love on tour with the Queen. He would usually start out on an acoustic Ovation guitar, and then in the second verse had his guitar tech hand him this black 1978 Telecaster.

On this guitar he would play the little fills in the verses and the first solo. Interestingly, during live concerts, Brain would switch back to his Red Special, and finish the song on that guitar – even though on the original recording it was all done on a Fender.

Brian playing
Brian playing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” on a Fender Telecaster. Live at Rock Montreal, 1981

Not *the guitar* used on Crazy Little Thing Called Love

As Brian explained, this 1978 Fender Telecaster is not the actual guitar that he used for the recording of Crazy Little Thing Called Love. The Telecaster was only used by him on live tours.

As the story goes, when the song was being recorded, Brian wanted to go for the James Burton Tele sound, since the song in itself was intended to be a sort of tribute to Elvis Presley and Sir Cliff Richard. James Burton was, of course, Presley’s main guitarist from 1969, and one of Brian’s personal heroes.

As an interesting note, Freddie would often announce Brian’s solo by saying “sing it Brian!” when the band played live. This is again an obvious nod to Elvis Presley and James Burton. One of hallmarks of Elvis’ live concerts was his exhortation, “Play it, James,” as a cue for Burton’s solos.

Anyways, Brian himself thought that his Red Special was good enough to achieve that sound, but the album producer Reinhold Mack persuaded May to use a 1967 Fender Esquire. This Equire belonged to Queen’s drummer, Roger Taylor.

Roger just happened to have this lovely old thing lying around, so I picked it up, plugged it in, and it worked. The amp? I don’t think it was a Boogie… the honest truth is that I’d use whatever was lying around. I thought I’d used a Fender amp, actually, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Brian May


Brian’s guitar is basically just a completely stock ’78 Telecaster, featuring black on black specs. The body color, the pickguard are both black, and the neck is dark rosewood, as opposed to maple which seems to have been more popular on the 1978 model overall.

Brian most likely bought it brand new, as he already had it when the band performed Crazy Little Thing Called Love for the first time – on November 22, 1979.


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