The extraordinary Mr Rhett May.
Rhett May owes his rare musical sound and style to the unique environment that he grew up in. Born in 1950, in Calcutta, India, and living in an orphanage at age 7, he was immediately immersed in a magical, musical melting pot. Carnatic and Hindustani music and instruments such as the Sitar and Tabla were always providing melody and percussion against a daily backdrop of lifting and soaring voices of Ragas. Ragas especially played a vital part of Rhett’s musical experience with their series of five or more musical notes forming melody. However, this environment of classical Indian music wasn’t the only sounds floating about Calcutta in the 50s and 60s and by the time he begun boarding school in the Himalayan foothills, western music had begun its invasion.
May’s commercially successful band, The Flint Stones, was one of India’s most successful pop group back in the day and attracted the attention of George Harrison and Apple Records, who invited them to the UK to double bill with legendary jazz guitarist, Charlie Bird.
It was during this fervent period that May and his band performed a private concert for the Queen of Bhutan and her family.
Fast track to present day and May still has his finger on the pulse writing topical subjects with hard-core lyrics. Take his song, The Violence of Ice, for example. May wholeheartedly tackles the issue of the ice epidemic head on and makes certain his music video leaves you questioning your stance on drugs. Revealing intimately the dangers that come with the consumption and abuse of Ice and how it wrecks families, relationships and ultimately pulls apart the seams of a stable society.
May’s quirky Indian roots blends rock & roll fever. Whether you like guitars or sitars, John Lennon or Ravi Shankar—in the words of Billy Joel “It’s still rock and roll to me.” And May does a beautiful job of blending the two worlds together on his latest album Fast Cars And Sitars.
As one scribe puts it…”It’s hypnotic…it’s infectious…rock/pop songs with an edge that go round and round inside your head….very Haight Ashbury”….
Rhett May is a voice of experience in a rock world that has become increasingly shallow. He’s toured the world, opened for bands like Queen and Ray Charles, seen the music industry from the inside, and watched the dark side of the business consume those around him. Throughout those experiences, Rhett May continually turned away from the excesses of the industry, choosing instead to write his story as opposed to those who fell into the clutches of addiction.
Rhett’s new album, Fast Cars and Sitars takes you to another level of his passion and creativity. His guitar songs are infused with the sounds of the Indian street, giving his music a different flavour to the majority of current, cookie-cutter rock music. By blending classic sensibilities with a twist of Indian culture, he has created a string of upcoming singles, the first of which is The Violence of Ice, followed by Rich Bitch, Drifting Dreaming, So Delicious, followed by his controversial new song, Keep off the Grass to produce classic rock at its best.
In a way it’s a tad rare to have a rock singer with such a strong stance on drug use, and this is exactly the point May aims to make; change is a necessity.
For more information on Rhett May’s gigs and music, go to