As Adam Lambert led Queen icons Brian May and Roger Taylor into their performance at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne in 2018, he took a moment to address the elephant in the room.

“I know what some of you may be thinking,” he told the crowd. “I’m just going to call it out: ‘He’s no Freddie.’ No shit! Because there will only be one rock god named Freddie Mercury.”

It wasn’t the first time he’d given such a speech since Queen + Adam Lambert began touring in 2012, three years after they first collaborated during the singer’s runner-up stint on American Idol in 2009. It’s an issue they may be hoping is finally behind them with the arrival of documentary The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story on April 29.

Since his first full-length concert with May and Taylor in 2012, the fact that he wasn’t Mercury had concerned him. “Man, I was really nervous beforehand,” he told People in 2018. “Not only did I have to make sure my voice held up and I knew all the words … but it was also the perception of the fans. I definitely had some concerns. This is not my music that I wrote: This is me, as a guest, with one of the greatest rock bands of all time, singing the songs that one of the greatest rock singers of all time brought to life.”

The doubters who went as far as buying tickets for a show are likely to have taken heart from comments made by his older colleagues. Speaking of their American Idol show – which had only been envisaged as a one-off event – the guitarist said, “It was really blindingly obvious that there was a chemistry already between us and Adam. It just happened completely naturally and made us all smile. The public reaction was massive, and so I think from that moment the idea of us working with Adam was seeded in our brains.”

Taylor described Lambert’s voice as “one in a hundred million” after they played the MTV Europe Awards in 2011.

In 2018 Lambert emphasized that “Freddie is irreplaceable. There’s no way to compare to him. It was always my hope that audiences would understand that I’m up there just excited to sing great music that everyone knows.”

He added that providing May and Taylor with the chance to keep performing was also a consideration. “Watching them delight in this connection with their fan base is really, really inspiring," he explained. "This is what they were made to do. This is their legacy. And I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

 

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