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Brian May Voted Best Rock Guitarist of All Time in Total Guitar Poll

(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Brian May has been voted the greatest rock guitarist of all time by the readers of Total Guitar magazine, it was announced (opens in new tab) today.

The Queen guitar legend edged out Jimi Hendrix for top honors, a distinction May said left him "absolutely speechless."

"I’m blown away. I have to say it’s completely unexpected," May said (opens in new tab) of the honor.

“Obviously I’m deeply touched that people feel that way about me. I’m not under any illusions that, technically, I’m even on the tree of great guitarists. I guess this tells me that what I’ve done has affected people, and that means a great deal to me. 

"I will never claim to be a great guitarist in the sense of, you know, a virtuoso. I guess I just try to play from my heart and that’s about it.”

When asked about Hendrix, May said “Jimi is, of course, my number one. And I’ve always said that. To me, he’s still something superhuman. It’s like he really did come from an alien planet, and I will never know quite how he did what he did.

“And every time I go back to Hendrix, I’m thrilled and stunned, and I get that feeling all over again, like either I’m going to give up playing guitar, because I can’t face up to this, or I’m gonna really have to get into it in a big way and try and do what is in my own body and soul. I never stop learning from Jimi.”

You can pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Guitar - which also features May's 20 best guitar moments, a lesson on how to play like the Queen legend, plus a guide to achieving Red Special tones - from My Favourite Magazines (opens in new tab).

Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.