IT is a rumour that has been been spread across the county for more than a decade: Brian May has a house in Papplewick. There have even been supposed sightings of him in the local pub, The Griffins Head. Many years ago I was driven past the cottage that was reputed to be his.
Sadly, it’s an urban myth and one that the Queen guitarist has heard before.
“I have no idea where this rumour comes from but I’ve never had a house in Nottingham,” he says.
“I would love to tell you I have in order to ingratiate myself with you. I think people get me confused with Freddie (Mercury) because his mum lives there.”
It’s a disappointment, as is the news that his next visit to Nottingham isn’t Queen themed but an unusual project called Anthems that sees him teamed up with musicals star Kerry Ellis for a show described as “a fusion of rock and musical theatre”. It includes the songs from West End shows, such as Wicked, Chess and the Queen musical We Will Rock You, which brought May and Ellis together.
“I was convinced from the moment we worked together on We Will Rock You nine years ago, that she was destined to be a worldwide star,” says May.
“The challenge was to develop songs and arrangements to allow that amazing voice to reach its true potential.”
So what’s so special about her?
“It’s obvious when you see her perform. Kerry does not just sing … she reaches into her soul, and breaks hearts.”
He played guitar and produced the album, Anthems, which features songs from the musicals that Ellis has appeared in but re-arranged with a rock edge.
“In every case, the songs have been completely rearranged and rebirthed, in order to highlight Kerry’s rock capabilities; it also has been a perfect outlet for me as an arranger, producer and guitarist … because in a sense I was discovering a new direction for myself as well.”
He adds: “And there is brand new material in there too, written by myself and others, which represent the area we have now reached – a kind of organic fusion of rock, theatre, and orchestra. Now it’s time to bring it to life on stage.”
So will the show be very theatrical?
“A little theatrical,” says May.
Having worked in the theatre for a number of years, this tour is the first time she has toured as herself.
“It’s nice to be able to be myself rather than a character and be able to sing the songs the way I want.”
Queen fans will obviously want to hear at least some of the band’s music on the tour and that’s what they’ll get.
“Obviously the long arm of Queen will make its presence felt but in new ways,” admits May, whose band includes Roger Taylor’s son Rufus on drums.
“He’s a first class drummer and probably the loudest I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard a few believe me. Which is appropriate because it is a rock show that we’re doing. It is pretty heavy duty.”
And what’s next for May?
“I’m working on my campaign for animal welfare called Save Me. We rescue and re-release injured and orphaned wild animals. And I’m close to completing a documentary on the history of 3-D for Sky 3-D.”
Brian May & Kerry Ellis, Royal Concert Hall, Sunday, 7.30pm, £33.50-£37.50, 0115 989 5555, www.trch.com