When Brian May and Eddie Van Halen Teamed Up to Record the ‘Star Fleet Project’
On Oct. 31, 1983, the Star Fleet Project blasted off. No, this wasn’t a NASA initiative, but the brainchild of Brian May.
It all started when the Queen guitar god and astrophysicist’s son hooked his dad onto the Japanese television series X Bomber, which was renamed Star Fleet in the U.K. This inspired the elder May to re-record the show’s theme song with some friends.
Luckily, May’s pals included rockers like REO Speedwagon drummer Alan Gratzer, journeyman keyboardist Fred Mandel (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd), session bassist Phil Chen (Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart), Queen colleague Roger Taylor (who provided backing vocals) and Eddie Van Halen.
Together, this formidable wrecking crew ripped through an extended hard-rock arrangement of the “Star Fleet Theme,” cut an unused May composition called “Let Me Out” and then jammed on a 12-minute tribute to Eric Clapton that they fittingly titled “Blues Breaker.” According to Van Halen News Desk, the whole thing was done in two days.
VHND also notes that there were no plans to release the sessions at first. “I could have put these tapes in a bottom of a drawer and kept them as a private record of one of the best experiences of my life,“ May said at the time.
But fortunately the collection of stars, eventually billed as Brian May + Friends, released the ‘Star Fleet’ mini-album to document not only one of Eddie’s rare musical field trips outside the Van Halen compound, but a clash of guitar titans for the ages. You can listen to it above.
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This Day in Rock History: October 31