WITH his stellar shredding skills taking him all the way to the semi-finals of a national television programme, and his proficient picking also catching the eye, or rather the ear, of his musical hero, 11 year-old guitarist Harry Churchill, who is from Bovey Tracey, sits down with the Mid-Devon Advertiser for an interview.

Harry’s stellar rendition of melodies from legendary English rock band Queen’s catalogue captivated audiences during his audition on Britain’s Got Talent; his performance, and those thereafter, caught the attention of Harry’s musical hero, the one and only, Sir Brian May.

The stage was set, therefore, for the two guitarists to cross paths, and cross paths they did.

11-year-old Harry Churchill with Sir Brian May of Queen fame
11-year-old Harry Churchill with Sir Brian May of Queen fame (-)

‘Brian May is my guitar hero so to get the chance to meet him and play guitar with him was a dream come true,’ Harry said.

‘He is a really nice person and he encouraged me to relax and just enjoy it – and I did!’ he added.

Harry was invited to perform alongside Sir Brian, as well as a handful of others, including Van Morrison, for a special, one-night only gig at the London Palladium put on by James Burton, who, among many other musical feats, lead Elvis Presley’s ‘Taking Care of Business’ band in the 1970s.

‘I also got to hold his guitar “The Red Special” and after the gig at the Palladium his guitar tech Pete gave me the sixpence that Brian used during the concert (he uses them instead of plectrums)’ Harry said.

‘I loved meeting all the different people on the show – the contestants, judges, Ant and Dec and all the crew – everyone was so nice - performing at the Palladium and the Hammersmith Apollo was an amazing experience especially when you think about all the other awesome bands that have performed there.

‘I think the main thing I have taken away from all this is that if you put yourself out there and take risks amazing things can happen – there were a few times when I got nervous but I’m so happy I pushed through the nerves and I’m so proud of my performances on the show’ he added.

‘Playing guitar is like going to another world for me – time passes quickly and I forget about everything else going on – it’s just the best feeling’ Harry said.

When taking to the stage with guitar in hand, a performance on a programme such as Britain’s Got Talent necessitates both technical proficiency as well as showmanship.

And so, other than Sir Brian, who else does Harry look to for inspiration?

‘Slash and Angus Young but I love lots of bands like McFly, Muse and Arctic Monkeys,’ Harry said.

‘My dad took me to see Muse in Plymouth the weekend before my Semi-Final performance and seeing Matt Bellamy running around the stage whilst playing guitar was amazing and definitely inspired my performance’ he added.

And so, what’s next for the young man from Bovey?

‘I’m going to keep working on my guitar skills and also my singing – I would love to be in a band that play huge concerts and festivals all over the world,’ Harry said.

‘My big brother Charlie is an awesome guitarist and my little brother Alfie is learning guitar and drums so in the future we would love to form a band together’ he added.