Back in 1983, on a break from Queen, guitarist Brian May pulled in a number of his musical friends for a new project. Among them was Eddie Van Halen, whose band would become the biggest thing in rock over the next year with their 1984 album. While this collaborative project didn't reach the commercial highs of their respective bands, interest has continued to grow over the years, and now a 40th anniversary box set reissue digging into those sessions en route to release under the moniker, Brian May + Friends: Star Fleet Project.

“It’s all here. ALL of it. Every note we played on those two days is right here, on show for the first time," says May. "I will take you behind the scenes into that studio with us for two unforgettably exhilarating days.”

In addition to May and Van Halen, the session included REO Speedwagon drummer Alan Gratzer, bassist Phil Chen (Donovan, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Pete Townsend) and session keyboardist Fred Mandel (Supertramp, Queen, Elton John, Alice Cooper).

Though only recording over a two-day period on April 21 and 22, 1983, this new collection that's part of the "Brian May Gold Series" features a wealth of previously unreleased material. It comes with two CDs, a vinyl LP, a vinyl single and other collector's items and will be issued as a deluxe box set on July 14. There will also be a separate, exclusive 7" double A-side single issued on CD the same day featuring newly mixed versions of "Star Fleet" and "Let Me Out." Plus, a special red vinyl version is going to be offered through the official Queen Online store and can be pre-ordered here.

For now, fans can check out an edited single version of "Star Fleet" that's available as a digital single. It's available for digital download and streaming at this location.

Brian May + Friends, "Star Fleet"

brian may + friends, star fleet, let me out
Brian May Gold Series

In the sleeve notes for the box set, May says, “We are going to give you everything… every take of every song, the things that went wrong, the laughing, the finding new things to do. But it won’t be just a remaster – we’ve rescued everything from the original multitracks, every detail magnificently remixed, and more! You’ll hear every take from the historic 1983 sessions plus fragments of conversations, outtakes and musical experimentation.”

The original three-track mini-album was released on Oct. 31, 1983, featuring a full-length version of "Star Fleet" that was inspired by May's viewing of a Japanese-made kid's science fiction series of the same name. The program had become a favorite of the guitarist and his son, who was four-years-old at the time. The album also featured the song "Let Me Out," a track that allowed for May and Van Halen to put their guitar soloing efforts to the test.

May says, “If Paul hadn’t written a very catchy song as the theme tune for that kid’s TV science fiction drama series, things would have been different. The signature tune began to stick in my head, and I could hear my own arrangement of the tune developing in my mind. But how to record it? So one morning, I woke up in Los Angeles on a break from activities with Queen and made some phone calls. I’ve told the story of what happened next in the material you will find in this box. The outcome was something I will forever treasure.”

“We did a little preparation on the phone and at home with tiny Rockman amps and earphones. Then we went in. The tapes rolled. My LA neighbor Alan Gratzer beat the hell out of his kit with the fattest, heaviest drum sticks I had ever seen. Phil Chen, a friend I had met when he played with Rod Stewart, brought his unusual style of funk-orientated rock playing to the party, along with his sunny Caribbean energy and humor. Fred Mandel, one of the classiest keyboard players I have ever met, tickled both the ivories and some very technical synth patches to bring the spacey riffs to life," he continued.

"Ed (I can still never call him ‘Eddie Van Halen’ because he more than once told me that he found it annoying!) played the guitar as if it were a piano … tapping and snapping and sliding and skipping around the fingerboard like an electric sprite - always with a cheeky smile," recalled May. "If anything he did was difficult for him, he never showed it. A total original. Pure joy. What an everlasting privilege to play with him.”

Revisiting the music for the 40th anniversary set, May says, “It’s been very exciting to open up the vault to find these tapes where, in the blink of an eye, I’m trading licks with my friends including the fantastic Ed Van Halen. It’s highly emotional, especially since Ed is sadly no longer around. We have since also lost Phil - so the rest of us cherish these fleeting moments together.”

The album also includes the epic "Blues Breaker," where May and Van Halen get to share in their guitar passions. “It was inspired by John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, the album with Eric Clapton reading The Beano on the front cover. Edward said, ‘This is great for me; I haven’t played like this in years. This is where I come from! I didn’t come up doing tapping and all the fireworks. I grew up doing blues, wanting to be like Eric Clapton and do something melodic,” recalled May.

“There was a lot of ebullience, a lot of exploration, discovery and astonishment,” he adds. “And some truly magical moments when everything gelled together - a fusion of energies!”

Of working with Van Halen, May marveled, “[He was] never quite treading the same path twice. Ed was a wonderful soul. Listening to him and me, I feel completely outclassed by him in the studio. But in a very pleasant way – what a joy for me to be around a guy who could do all that. Such a privilege.”

“So, you’ll hear us in the studio trading licks,” adds May. “We’ve cleaned up the mix and now EVH’s sound is larger than life. You’ll hear the development of his solo, which I always thought was one of the greatest things he did… a real immortal classic of Ed Van Halen pieces.”

READ MORE: Brian May Names His Greatest Guitarists

As you can see in the full track listing below, the box set includes multiple takes of songs, interviews with Los Angeles DJs Cynthia Fox and Bob Coburn, a live version of "Let Me Out," discussion and banter from the sessions, multiple Eddie Van Halen solos and more. Check out the track listing and artwork below and pre-order the Brian May + Friends: Star Fleet Project 40th Anniversary box set here.

And just a reminder, these days May is back playing his Queen favorites with Adam Lambert. Be sure to catch them on tour and get tickets here.

BRIAN MAY + FRIENDS: STAR FLEET PROJECT 40th Anniversary Edition Artwork + Track Listing

brian may + friends, star fleet sessions 40th anniversary
Brian May Gold Series

CD1: Star Fleet Project + Beyond

Star Fleet (Edited Single Version / 2023 Mix)
Let Me Out (2023 Mix)
Blues Breaker (2023 Mix)
Cynthia Fox Release Day Interview 1983
Bob Coburn Rockline Interview 1984
Let Me Out (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
We Will Rock You (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
We Will Rock You - Fast (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
Star Fleet (Complete Version / 2023 Mix)

CD2: Star Fleet The Complete Sessions

Star Fleet (Take 1)
Star Fleet (Take 2)
Star Fleet (Take 3)
Star Fleet (Take 4)
Star Fleet (Take 5)
Solo Jam
Star Fleet (Take 7)
Star Fleet (Take 8)
Star Fleet (Take 10)
Star Fleet (Take 11)
Star Fleet (Alternative Overdub EVH Solo)
Let Me Out (Rehearsal 1)
Let Me Out (Rehearsal 2)
Boogie Woogie Jam
Let Me Out (Take 1)
Jazz Police
Let Me Out (Take 3)
Let Me Out (Take 4)
Jam (Let's Do The Show Right Here)
Let Me Out (Take 6)
Funky Jam
Let Me Out (Take 7 False Start)

LP: Star Fleet Project (180g Red Vinyl)
1. Star Fleet (2023 Mix)
2. Let Me Out (2023 Mix)
3. Blues Breaker (2023 Mix)

7” Single “Star Fleet”
Star Fleet (Edited Single Version / 2023 Mix)
Son Of Star Fleet (2023 Mix) – Exclusive to the box set 7”

Star Fleet Project + Beyond
Format: 1CD
Star Fleet (Edited Single Version / 2023 Mix)
Let Me Out (2023 Mix)
Blues Breaker (2023 Mix)
Cynthia Fox Release Day Interview 1983
Bob Coburn Rockline Interview 1984
Let Me Out (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
We Will Rock You (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
We Will Rock You - Fast (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
Star Fleet (Complete Version / 2023 Mix)

Star Fleet Project
Format: 1LP 180g black vinyl / 1LP picture disc / Cassette
Star Fleet (2023 Mix)
Let Me Out (2023 Mix)
Blues Breaker (2023 Mix)

“Star Fleet / Let Me Out” - Double A Side Single
Format: 7” Vinyl (Red Vinyl) / CD Single
A. Star Fleet (Edited Single Version / 2023 Mix)
AA. Let Me Out (Single Edit / 2023 Mix) – Only available physically on this 7” Vinyl & CD single.

Content supervised by Kris Fredriksson.
Mixed by Justin Shirley-Smith and Kris Fredriksson, Allerton Hill Studio. Mastered by Adam Ayan, Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, Maine.
Half Speed vinyl mastering by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. Artwork by Richard Gray and Brian May.
Photography by Phil Chen, James “Motor” Merritt, Elizabeth “Lizard” Frye, Brian May, Ron Galella / Getty Images.

66 Best Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All-Time

More From 97.9 WGRD