Brighton Rock (song)

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"Brighton Rock"
Song by Queen from the album Sheer Heart Attack
Released 8 November 1974
Recorded July–September 1974 at AIR, Rockfield, Trident and Wessex Sound studios
Genre Hard rock
Length 5:11
Label EMI (UK), Parlophone (Europe), Elektra (US)
Writer Brian May
Producer Roy Thomas Baker
Sheer Heart Attack track listing
"Brighton Rock"
(Track 1)
"Killer Queen"
(Track 2)

"Brighton Rock" is a song by British rock band Queen, written by lead guitarist Brian May. The song is the opening track on Sheer Heart Attack. The song features one of Queen's longest guitar solos which more than three minutes long. The solo has been performed live by May at most concerts since its release.


May wrote the song shortly before the completion of Queen II in 1973. Time restriction meant the song meant it did not appear on Queen II. Before the song being recorded in 1974, variations of the solo was part of "Son And Daughter".

There were many working titles for the song including; "Happy Little Day", "Blackpool Rock", "Bognor Ballad", "Southend Sea Scout", "Skiffle Rock and "Herne Bay".

The title is something of a pun: Brighton rock is a long, cylindrical sugar candy traditional to that seaside resort.

The term was also iconic in UK pop culture as the title of a dark Graham Greene thriller/noir novel later adapted into a successful film starring Richard Attenborough as a teenage sociopath.

The song, the first track on the album, tells the story of two young lovers named Jenny and Jimmy meeting in Brighton on a public holiday.[1] Jenny cannot linger because she is afraid her mother will find out "how I spent my holiday", but afterwards "writes a letter every day"; Jimmy, eager on the day, is not so happy with her "nothing can my love erase": now he is the one afraid of discovery by "my lady".

Live performances[edit]

The song is probably best known for its lengthy guitar solo interlude,[1] which was rather similar to the solo of 1968 Smile song "Blag". This featured May's technique of using multiple echoes used to build up guitar harmony and contrapuntal melodic lines. The studio version only contains one "main" guitar and one "echoed" guitar for a short section, but live, he would usually split his guitar signal into "main" and two "echoed", with each going to a separate bank of amplifiers.

Variations of this solo often featured during live Queen concerts, either as part of a rendition of Brighton Rock, a medley of it with some other songs (as witnessed on the News of the World tour where it segued after Freddie Mercury's multiple echoed vocal solo at the end of "White Man" and May's solo would segue into "The Prophet's Song" or "Now I'm Here"), or on its own as a guitar solo.

In the late '70s, the guitar solo was adapted to include some bass and drums, including a timpani solo by Roger Taylor (from October 1978 to November 1981).

In 1980 and 1981, the solo was included as a medley with "Keep Yourself Alive", before becoming a performance in its own right. During the recent tour of Queen + Paul Rodgers, a modified version, incorporating bits of "Chinese Torture" (from The Miracle) and the introduction from "Now I'm Here" was featured in the concerts. The Queen + Paul Rodgers version is featured on their live album Return of the Champions, simply titled "Guitar Solo".

The live piece is often between 9 to 13 minutes long. May performed part of the "Brighton Rock" solo at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[2]



  1. ^ a b Brighton Rock Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  2. ^ "Olympics closing ceremony - playlist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2012