See if you recognize this musician
He studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc (Hons) degree and ARCS in physics with Upper Second-Class Honours. He then commenced his studies for a PhD degree at Imperial College, studying reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System. He temporarily abandoned his physics doctorate to follow a musical career, but co-wrote two scientific research papers: MgI Emission in the Night-Sky Spectrum (1972) and An Investigation of the Motion of Zodiacal Dust Particles (Part I) (1973), which were based on his observations at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife.
In October 2007, more than 30 years after he started his research, he completed his PhD thesis in astrophysics, entitled A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, passed his viva voce, and performed the required corrections. He graduated at the postgraduate awards ceremony of Imperial College held in the Royal Albert Hall on 14 May 2008. He was able to submit his thesis only because of the minimal amount of research on the topic undertaken during the intervening years and has described the subject as one that became “trendy” again in the 2000s.
He is the co-author of Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe with Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott, which was published in October 2006.
Asteroid 52665 was named in his honour on 18 June 2008 on the suggestion of Sir Patrick Moore (probably influenced by the asteroid’s provisional designation of 1998 **30).
He appeared on the 700th episode of The Sky at Night hosted by Sir Patrick Moore, along with Dr. Chris Lintott, Jon Culshaw, Prof. Brian Cox, and the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees who, on leaving the panel told this person, who was joining it, “I don’t know any scientist who looks as much like Isaac Newton as you do”. This man was also a guest on the first episode of the third series of the BBC’s Stargazing Live, broadcast live on 8 January 2013.
On 17 November 2007, he was appointed Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, taking over from Cherie Blair, and installed in 2008. He held the post until 2013.
He has been referred to as a virtuoso guitarist by many publications and musicians. He has featured in various music polls of great rock guitarists, and in 2011 was ranked number 26 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. Former Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar stated, “I thought their band was really innovative and made some great sounding records. I like the rockin’ stuff. I think their guitarist has one of the greatest guitar tones on the planet, and I really, really love his guitar work.” This mystery man mainly used the “Red Special”, which he designed when he was only 16 years old. It was built with wood from an 18th century fireplace. His comments on the guitar:
“I like a big neck – thick, flat and wide. I lacquered the fingerboard with Rustin’s Plastic Coating. The tremolo is interesting in that the arm’s made from an old bicycle saddle bag carrier, the knob at the end’s off a knitting needle and the springs are valve springs from an old motorbike.”
— By our Mystery Man
In addition to using his home-made guitar he prefers to use coins (especially a sixpence from the farewell proof set of 1970), instead of a more traditional plastic plectrum, on the basis that their rigidity gives him more control in playing. He is known to carry coins in his pockets specifically for this purpose.