- By Nina Myskow
"I lost my dad, my marriage and the band... I thought about suicide but Anita saved me...."
BRIAN May is exhausted. His face, framed by the notorious wild mane of hair is pale, the features look drawn.
The legendary guitarist of rock band Queen has had little sleep for weeks.
We Will Rock You, the spectacular West End musical which features 31 Queen hits set to a new story by Ben Elton opened last night, and since January, Brian has devoted every waking moment to it.
As co-producer with Robert De Niro he is at the theatre day and night, dedicated and completely obsessed.
But working so hard he is absolutely exhilarated. "It's insane," he tells me happily, backstage at the Dominion Theatre as the sound of We Are The Champions pounds through the building.
"You just chuck food down yourself. I don't even have time to go to the toilet, for heaven's sake. And yet I feel great. Very focused and very fortunate."
He looks good too, despite the fatigue. At 54, ludicrously he still looks as he always has done.
But the way he feels is in stark contrast to how he was for most of the last decade. Freddie Mercury's tragic death from Aids in 1991 sparked off a depression that culminated in a breakdown four years ago and thoughts of suicide.
"I'm sitting here smiling, and very happy now. But back then I could never have imagined it," he tells me somewhat hesitantly. Always polite and highly intelligent he is, at heart, a very private man.
"I thought my life was over. I was totally and utterly depressed, I mean real, proper depression. When you literally can't get out of bed, you just want to pull the covers over.
"It's like you're paralysed. I found I couldn't see colour. There was no colour in the world, literally. Even music didn't get to me in the worst moments. Depression would clamp down like a fog. Black fog.
"I can remember looking up at planes and thinking, 'My God, somebody built that plane, somebody is flying it. They've had the strength to achieve things. I don't even know how to get breakfast inside me. How can people be so in control of their lives?"
FREDDIE'S death was not the only disaster that Brian had to contend with that year.
"My father died, and everything happened at once," he says, looking bleak. "I lost one of my closest friends, I lost the band, which was like a family, I lost my marriage. All in the same year.
"I have great strength, a strong optimistic side, but because I didn't really deal with the loss, I was carrying this low-grade depression for a long time. And much later, when I came to the complete crisis, I'd lost my Mum too."
He tried many forms of therapy, but ultimately they didn't help. In utter despair, Brian checked himself into Cottonwood, a clinic in Arizona, where nobody knew who he was. "I was in with people in a similar position, but also drug addicts and alcoholics and people with food disorders.
"It's the same thing, you've lost yourself. It's a loss of self. You realise you're not the only person who is suffering."
Brian had always avoided taking medication. He has never taken drugs. "I know people find hard to believe. That's what they said to me when I was in. 'Really? A rock guitarist! Are you telling us the truth?' I was like, It's just not the way I am.'" He resisted taking antidepressants until his final week. When he gave in, the results were disastrous.
"They made me 100 times worse. I was shaking. I had this out-of-body feeling the whole time, my whole insides went, I couldn't keep any food in me," he sa