Guitarist Brian May of Queen releases 'New Horizons,' first single in 20 years

On New Year’s Eve, legendary Queen guitarist Brian May unveiled his first solo material in more than 20 years. New Horizons was released along with a CGI-animated music video which depicts one of NASA’s probes leaving Earth and exploring the cosmos.

While holding elements of many of his classic Queen compositions, New Horizons is a breath of fresh air and came as a surprise to many. Equipped with roaring guitar solos and unexpectedly pristine vocals, May, 71, has already set the bar high for 2019.

Known for some of Queen’s most-recognized songs, including We Will Rock You, Hammer to Fall and Fat Bottomed Girls, the British guitarist plans to release his third studio album later in the year. His last effort, Another World, was released in 1998.

The coolest part? May actually wrote New Horizons for NASA’s ongoing mission of the same name. He’s not only a rock god, he’s legitimately an astrophysicist, having earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London.

WATCH BELOW: Brian May’s fascinating new video, New Horizons, is an homage to the wonders of NASA

READ MORE: Queen announces North American ‘Rhapsody’ tour with Adam Lambert

The single was released to commemorate a milestone progression in the New Horizons Mission. The probe was scheduled to fly by the “Ultima Thule” on Jan. 1 — and it did.

A special conference and livestream was held in Maryland to showcase the newly discovery photos.

May promised he would attend, but not to promote his song. He takes great pride in being involved with the mission and admitted that the upcoming album will be based around it.

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OK Folks ! I’m off to New Horizons today. In their coming New Year, perhaps we ALL need New Horizons. I know I do. Hands up anyone whose Christmas didn’t feel perfect ? Well, me too. I’m grateful for so much, but there are problems and pain in my life that I’m not able to fix, and I think Christmas magnifies this stuff. So this year I will keep busy (it helps!) and I will look for new horizons – new ways of looking at life and making the best of it. OK ! One more time – this time in WIDE SCREEN – the third ‘teaser trailer’ for my own New Horizons Track released on New Years Day – at 12.02 am Eastern Time – that’s 5.02 am in Britain. I’ll be counting down to the New Year for NASA New Horizons !! Watch for details !!! Cheers folks ! Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

The Ultima Thule was discovered in 2014. Its name translates to “beyond the known world.” NASA has now publicly shared picture proof — it looks like a snowman.

It has a diameter of about 30km and was the first reachable planetary object in the Kuiper belt since New Horizons passed Jupiter in 2015, according to NASA.

The point of the mission is to explore, discover and ultimately learn how planets are and were made. Ultima Thule was formed 4.6 billion years ago, making it the most ancient object ever explored in history. It will help us understand how our solar system came to be.

New Horizons will continue to fly until it runs out of fuel in the late 2030s.

Brian May with fans at the World Premiere of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' at SSE Arena Wembley on Oct. 23, 2018 in London, England.

Brian May with fans at the World Premiere of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' at SSE Arena Wembley on Oct. 23, 2018 in London, England.

Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Twentieth Century Fox

READ MORE: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ cast members reveal how they transformed into Queen

A quote from one of the world’s masterminds, the late Stephen Hawking, was used as an intro to the track:
“The revelations of New Horizons may help us to understand better how our solar system was formed,” Hawking said.
Hardcore Queen fans were delighted by May’s instrumentals and lyricism. Yet they were even more impressed with his involvement with NASA.
Freddie Mercury performing on his 38th birthday with Brian May on Sept. 5, 1984.

Freddie Mercury performing on his 38th birthday with Brian May on Sept. 5, 1984.

Nigel Wright/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

READ MORE: Queen’s Roger Taylor reveals why Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t end up playing Freddie Mercury

Here’s what Brian May fans had to say

“We could all be cool, but we’ll never be Brian May cool.”

“Okay, Brian May was one of the greatest rock musicians ever, then he went back and finished his PhD. He then became a university chancellor, tagged on to the New Horizons team and created this. Celebrities rarely impress me. But this guy impresses me.”

The New Horizons single is now available to stream on all platforms. As of this writing, the upcoming album has no scheduled release date.

Brian May of Queen + Adam Lambert performing live Mediolanum Forum in Assago Milan Italy on June 25, 2018.

Brian May of Queen + Adam Lambert performing live Mediolanum Forum in Assago Milan Italy on June 25, 2018.

Roberto Finizio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

READ MORE: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ officially the most-streamed song of the 20th century

Queen announced its return to the stage in December. The Rhapsody tour will feature May, drummer Roger Taylor and singer Adam Lambert. They will reunite once more to deliver their “most ambitious” show yet.

Tickets are now on sale and available through the official Queen website.

The Rhapsody Tour North America 2019

** Canadian shows are bolded **

July 10 — Vancouver, B.C. @Rogers Arena
July 12 — Tacoma, Wash. @Tacoma Dome
July 14 — San Jose, Calif. @SAP Center
July 16 — Phoenix, Ariz. @Talking Stick Resort Arena
July 19 — Los Angeles, Calif. @The Forum
July 23 — Dallas, Tex. @American Airlines Center
July 24 — Houston, Tex. @Toyota Center
July 27 — Detroit, Mich. @Little Caesars Arena
July 28 — Toronto, Ont. @Scotiabank Arena
July 30 — Washington, D.C. @Capital One Arena
July 31 — Pittsburgh, Pa. @PPG Paints Arena
Aug. 3 — Philadelphia, Pa. @Wells Fargo Center
Aug. 4 — Boston, Mass. @Xfinity Center
Aug. 6 — New York City, N.Y. @Madison Square Garden
Aug. 9 — Chicago, Ill. @United Center
Aug. 10 — St. Paul, Minn. @Xcel Energy Center
Aug. 13 — Columbus, Ohio @Nationwide Arena
Aug. 15 — Nashville, Tenn. @Bridgestone Arena
Aug. 17 — Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. @BB&T Center
Aug. 18 — Tampa, Fla. @Amalie Arena
Aug. 20 — New Orleans, La. @Smoothie King Center
Aug. 22 — Atlanta, Ga. @State Farm Arena
Aug. 23 — Charlotte, N.C. @Spectrum Center

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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