Brian May has told of his joy at performing for Buzz Aldrin and other astronauts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing.
The Queen musician and astrophysicist took to the stage at the Starmus V Festival in Zurich earlier this week to host a 3D presentation of his book Mission Moon 3D: A New Perspective on the Space Race and take part in a moonwalk-inspired anniversary concert.
He performed with the likes of Hans Zimmer and Rick Wakeman in the concert celebrating music and science, while Aldrin watched in the audience alongside astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Charlie Duke.
May told PA: “It makes me smile to think that the two of us (myself and my co-author David Eicher) were up there on the Starmus stage sharing our view of the space race in front of three of the very Apollo astronauts who walked on the Moon.
“These are the heroes who created the incredible story that we’re telling 50 years later. There sat Buzz Aldrin, Harrison Schmitt and our very special foreword writer, Charlie Duke, who has been so supportive of our process. Plus Apollo astronauts Al Worden and Walt Cunningham, and flight director Gerry Griffin. Charlie, who was Capcom for the Apollo 11 landing, later walked on the Moon himself in Apollo 16.
“He says that the Mission Moon 3D experience is ‘as close to being there on the Moon’s surface as it’s possible to get for Earth-bound creatures like us.’”
Aldrin was one of the first two men to land on the Moon in 1969 alongside the late Neil Armstrong in Apollo 11.
He sat in the audience at the event wearing 3D glasses to watch May’s presentation of his book in which he and Eicher transported the astronauts back to their past experiences.
May and Eicher projected images of the space race from their book onto the big screen.
May said he had to “pinch” himself over the performance in front of the moonwalkers, and asked himself: “Was this the real life?”
Of the concert, in which he both sang and played guitar, May said: “There were a number of thrills for me – working with virtuoso musician Steve Vai, who did me the honour of playing my guitar parts in Who Wants To Live Forever, while I sang beside that extraordinary wild animal of opera Vittorio Grigolo; collaborating with Hans Zimmer, who has composed some of the greatest movie soundtracks ever, and generously created the arrangements for two Queen songs for our finale; Rick Wakeman on keyboards, a hero and old friend of mine, and a universally acknowledged virtuoso.
“But the final thrill was performing my song ’39 for the first time without guitar – just with my voice, a passionate young Lucerne orchestra, and Stuart Morley conducting, who created this entirely new arrangement with me, especially for Starmus V. It felt good.
“I felt much more comfortable than I thought I would – just concentrating on delivering the meaning of the song.
“I wrote ’39 in 1975 – it’s a kind of future folk song – a legend about an astronaut who went on a round trip at close to the speed of light, in search of new worlds for the Human Race to colonise; when he returns after what has been a year for him, to the people back on Earth, 100 years have passed.”
Starmus is a festival of science communication, astronomy, space exploration, music and art that takes place annually around the world.