LJMU Chancellor Dr Brian May is a firm believer in the “Dream, Plan, Achieve” ethos of the university and has fond memories of time spent in Liverpool during the more humble days of his early music career.
Speaking exclusively to JMU Journalism, the Queen guitarist and Doctor of Astrophysics revealed that though his distinguished career has yielded many trophies and accolades, the real joys in life came from hard work and dedication on the road to achievement.
He said: “As my dad used to say ‘If a thing’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly’ and I take it to its extreme when I apply that to myself. If I set myself a goal I will work for that goal but I will try also to still be a human being and still have some balance.
“I like to still be aware of every moment and not just pursuing this distant dream and thinking that I’m going to get to some wonderful plateau because that’s not the way life works,” he added. “You’ve got to enjoy the journey along the way and look for those moments of just being – doing your job, enjoying the challenges. If you’re expecting some kind of Holy Grail at the end you’re probably not going to find it.”
Dr May’s involvement with our university began in 2007 when he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts, but more significantly for encouraging the public understanding of science following publication of his book ‘Bang! The Complete History of the Universe’. A renowned academic, Dr May studied Astrophysics at Imperial College, London and gained his BSc before progressing to a PhD. Dr May is best known for founding the immensely successful rock group Queen, going on to sell more than 400 million records and touring the world on many occasions.
In 2008 Dr May was approached by LJMU Vice Chancellor Professor
Michael Brown CBE about taking on the ambassadorial role of
Chancellor. He said: “I think I was ambushed really…in a very nice way.
“Michael took me aside and said would I be interested in becoming
Chancellor? I initially said no because I had no idea how I would
perform that role but he said ‘well, you’ll pick it up, would you think
about it?’ and I said ‘yeah, okay’. I actually didn’t think about it because
I thought it was never going to happen, but Michael is a very persuasive
man and will not be brooked easily. He carried on pursuing me, we
had a couple of meetings and eventually I was persuaded that I could
do it and I signed up. I signed up for two years and then recently signed
up for the other three, so it’s a five-year contract."
In his role as Chancellor, Dr May performs a variety of duties including attending some of the graduation ceremonies and representing the university as an ambassador at events both at home and abroad.
“The Chancellor is really a figurehead in most ways but I take an interest in what’s going on,” he added. “I know why I was chosen and it’s because I fit in with the ethos of the university very well. The university is very close to my heart in the sense that it encourages individuality, people skills and the idea of pursuing your dream. I think it’s a wonderful university and very different from most others.”
Despite jokingly professing to “hate journalists”, Dr May proved to be what is known in the trade as a good talker, as he spoke warmly and fluently about his earliest memories of Liverpool, travelling alongside Queen singer Freddie Mercury.
He said: “I’ve been coming to Liverpool for many years. We came up a lot with Freddie, who was in a band called Sour Milk Sea. We used to come up in a little transit van, all piled in together, and would sleep on people’s floors.
“Some of my friends owned a pub up here so we saw Liverpool from the point of view of people who really had nothing,” he added. “No connections, no money, no status or anything and it was always a wonderfully friendly city and intensely proud of its creativity. The people have a fantastic sense of humour and it’s a very individual place.”
Exclusive by Dan Burke, Website Editor
Dan interviews LJMU Chancellor Dr Brian May; Playing God Save The Queen at Buckingham Palace