The encounter with a guitar legend that left Dragonforce’s Herman Li speechless

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Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li isn’t a man who is easily star-struck. As one of power metal’s foremost shred-wizards, he’s collaborated with everyone from Babymetal to Trivium’s Matt Heafy. And then there’s his hugely successful Twitch and YouTube channels, which have seen him facing down such fellow fret-botherers as Paul Gilbert of Mr Big, Polyphia’s Tim Henson, and ex-Megadeth axeman Kiko Loureiro.

But, speaking in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, Herman reveals that there is one legendary guitarist who left him speechless when they crossed paths – and not just because of his guitar skills. They unexpectedly met at a gig in London more than a decade ago, leaving the Dragonforce man reeling.

“I went to see Mr. Big at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2011, and [Queen guitarist] Brian May was there,” Herman tells Hammer. “Everyone wanted to speak to him, everyone was onto him, and I was like, ‘Obviously I don’t want to annoy Brian May.’ I know what it’s like to be a guitar player at a show, people pulling your ear off.

“Then, suddenly, he came up to me and said, ‘Hey Herman, how’s it going?’ What the fuck?! Brian May came and spoke to me! He likes Dragonforce! That was a shocker for me!”

While the Queen guitarist isn‘t necessarily known for his metal bona fides, he’s been held up as an inspiration by the likes of Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Foo Fighters. Queen’s 1975 song Stone Cold Crazy, covered by Metallica, is often cited as an early influence on thrash metal.

In the interview in Metal Hammer, Herman also looks back on the success of the Guitar Hero video game, and how it helped kick Dragonforce and countless other bands that followed to the next level.

Guitar Hero was very important for metal - not just for Dragonforce, but all guitar-driven music,” he says. “With guitar music, the waves come and go; it’s popular, then it’s not popular, it’s hard to say why. But Guitar Hero definitely got a young generation to hear guitars, and gave them a choice actually, between what they hear on the radio and what they don’t hear on the radio. Tim Henson is an example from that generation; he played Guitar Hero as a kid, now he’s a guitar hero himself!”

Read the full interview with Herman in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, on sale now and featuring Judas Priest on the cover. Order it online and have it delivered straight to your door

Judas Priest of Rob Halford on the cover of Metal Hammer issue 385
Judas Priest of Rob Halford on the cover of Metal Hammer issue 385