Brian May Recalls 1983 Star Fleet Project With Eddie Van Halen

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Brian May recalled a “moment of great joy” performing with Eddie Van Halen on 1983’s Star Fleet Project, stating all the performers “smiled and smiled” throughout the “spontaneous” sessions.

Before the project, Queen’s guitarist was appreciating some downtime from his main group, as the performers had “sort of had enough of each other for a while.” Staying in LA at the time, he decided to call Van Halen and propose a collab project. 

I called, and Eddie said, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘Well, strangely enough, I have an idea in my head,’” May told Guitar World. “Because my little boy had been watching this science fiction series, and I always thought that the theme tune for it would be a great vehicle for all-out guitar playing. And Eddie said, ‘I’m up for it!’”

He arranged follow-up invitations to REO Speedwagon drummer Alan Gratzer and Rod Stewart bassist Phil Chen and also called Queen keyboardist Fred Mandel to join them. Joining in the project, Gratzer noted, “It’ll feel like you’re cheating on your wife!”

May reflected: “I think we’d all got to the point where we’d worked hard in the studio with our respective bands and it had almost become a job. … Of course, we all loved music, but there are moments when you feel pressure in the studio, the album has to be made, deadlines and whatever, and sometimes it gets tense. But this was different — we’re all friends, and whatever happens here is a bonus. So it was full of joy.“