Queen’s huge double-A-sided hit We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions was spawned from the group’s 1977 album News of the World. A platinum seller, it was their most successful single to date in America, besting “Bohemian Rhapsody” and reaching #4 on the charts. Composed by guitarist Brian May, We Will Rock You was seized by the public as a crowd rallying song at all sorts of competitive and athletic events and has attained stature apart from Queen as a piece of modern folklore. No wonder – its resounding backbeat and shouting, anthemic chorus are ideal for moving a crowd no matter what the score is.
In the outro at 1:39, Brian takes an atypical rhythm/lead chord solo that paraphrases the proto-rap vocal line and fits the strutting mood of the song perfectly. It is also a beautiful example of the primary electric guitar tone that he used for most of his Queen lead work. May combines his single-coil bridge and middle pickups in series (not parallel, like a Strat) for a thick, quasi-humbucker sound and plugs into boosted, cranked-to-distortion Vox AC-30 combo amps for an immediately recognizable result.
Brian’s solo is essentially built around two triad shapes, A and D/F# [Fig. 1]. These chord forms are endemic to rock ‘n’ roll guitar, from the Rolling Stones and AC/DC to Van Halen and beyond. May bases the majority of his chord-work here around the 14th position and employs the loose, hammer-on/pull-off approach of rhythm guitar riff-masters like Keith Richards and Pete Townshend. Notice that the open A, fifth string, is often included in the pattern for an extra ringing effect.
Over and within these patterns, Brian adds extra melody notes: В, C#, E, F# and G – implying an A Mixolydian mode [Fig. 2] – and B, C#, E and F# – implying an A major pentatonic scale [Fig. 3]. He also adds some subtle vibrato bar effects, muted string scrapes, and other intentional noises for their coloristic and percussive qualities. It all adds up to one very unique Brian May guitar moment.
It’s a part of Queen We Will Rock You guitar lesson.
Below you can download PDF guitar tabs and sheet music of
We Will Rock You with backing track
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