Should Queen continue without Freddie Mercury and John Deacon? Adam Lambert says: ‘It’s their prerogative’

The news that Queen will appear with yet another lead singer has some fans returning to what’s becoming an age-old conundrum: Is it Queen without Freddie Mercury? Heck, is it Queen without John Deacon?

Don’t ask Adam Lambert, the American Idol finalist who’ll front Queen at this year’s Sonisphere Festival.

“That’s really up to (Queen co-founders) Brian (May) and Roger (Taylor); it’s their band,” Lambert told NME.com. “I think that at this point the feel what they’re doing is appropriate and it’s their prerogative. If someone feels like their legacy should be left alone then they’re missing out on a great concert. That’s the bottom line.”

Mercury, one of rock’s most dynamic frontmen, died in November 1991 from complications related to AIDS. Since then, Queen has also appeared with George Michael of Wham (1992), Paul Rodgers of Bad Company (2005-09) and, at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala in 2010, with Tom Chaplin of the band Keane. Queen released the 2008 studio effort The Cosmos Rocks with Rodgers, as well as three live albums. Lambert has earlier appeared with the band in the Idol finale and at the EVMAs.

[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: We dig into Queen favorites like “Under Pressure,” “Spread Your Wings” and “Stone Cold Crazy,” then return for spins of “You’re My Best Friend,” “Ogre Battle” and “Flash”.]

Bassist Deacon, who retired in 1997, is perhaps best known for penning the Queen hits “You’re My Best Friend” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” He has not participated in the band’s more recent collaborations, and was also absent from Queen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. There are some who miss his presence, as well.

“Of course having the original bass player there would be amazing, don’t get me wrong,” Lambert added, “but that’s just not the situation. I don’t mean to sound defensive and I totally understand and respect that opinion. But that’s no fun!”

Lambert has made it a point to say that he doesn’t see himself as a replacement for Mercury. Queen also billed the earlier collaboration with Bad Company’s former leader as “Queen + Paul Rodgers,” underscoring the idea that he was a guest singer — not a permanent stand in.

“It’s just different. Nothing is gonna beat the original. No one’s ever going to be better than Freddie Mercury — never,” Lambert said. “But I don’t think that’s the point. I don’t think it’s a competition. It’s about music and it’s about making people feel something. It’s not about beating out the original.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Queen. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

QUEEN – DAYS OF OUR LIVES DVD (2012): As this sprawling new documentary makes clear, Queen knew — and from the very beginning — that they were on to something. That it took everyone else so long to notice only seemed to spark them to greater heights of genre-jumping, expectation-confounding genius. Because of the way that they had built their own legacy, Queen didn’t have a working template to get trapped in. “They were very opened minded, Queen audiences,” May adds. “We never felt constrained.”

ONE TRACK MIND: TANGERINE DREAM WITH BRIAN MAY, “STAR SOUNDS” (2011): You suspected, just from listening to his wildly inventive work with Queen, that there was little guitarist Brian May couldn’t do. This live collaboration with space-music pioneer Edgar Froese’s Tangerine Dream confirms it. Sure, May has a well-known interest in the cosmos and its exploration, having earned a doctorate degree in astrophysics. But, for all of the many styles that May has excelled at over the years, for all of the times he’s played completely in service of the song — showing such great flamboyance, then such sharp-edged restraint — I still didn’t know what to expect once that famously bushy mane was dropped in amidst this kind of long-form, open-ended improvisational music. We will, we will … space you?

ONE TRACK MIND: QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS, “SAY IT’S NOT TRUE” (2007): “Say It’s Not True” originally appeared on the group’s 2005 live album, Return of the Champions, in a more stripped-down acoustic form sung by Roger Taylor. This version, however, is a much more embellished studio recording with Brian May and Paul Rodgers contributing significantly. Otherwise, it’s a very typical charity song: The lyrics were a bit trite and obvious; the melody was also a bit simplistic. It felt like something we’d heard a million times before. Yet, while there were no real surprises in store, it managed to invoke some of the magic of Queen: It builds at just the right moment into a glorious power ballad.

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • magsmagenta

    You may like to use this video of Adam with Queen at the EMAs in November, it’s much better than the Idol one and he’s not being held back by having to duet with the other guy.

    http://vimeo.com/33069354

  • Teri

    So happy Adam is appearing with Queen. They were great together at the EMAs. In fact, there are several You Tubes of the EMA performance out there that are more representative of how Adam performs with the remaining members of Queen than the Idol clip you have posted. He did well on Idol, but he had to share the lines with the other finalist. On the EMA clip, it’s all Adam, Brian and Roger, just the way it will be at Sonisphere.

  • Basiliy

    This is the worst… Who the hell is that Lambert? This is wrong! Talking about John “no funny” c’mon… Give a little respect, John is a legend. What a shame. Brian, Roger: what the hell are you doing? Shame, shame…

  • Ryan in L.A.

    I am firmly with John Deacon on this subject; I think Brian and Roger have diminished the brand terribly since Freddie died. As far as I’m concerned, Queen ended in 1991 with “Innuendo” being their swan song.

    Adam Lambert has a big vocal range but no charisma, no stage presence, no… anything. He can’t sell records or tickets and he can’t write a song.

    Brian and Roger want to play, and Queen fans want to hear the songs, but it’s all very self-indulgent. It might be cool to see Brian & Roger play some small venues or one-off shows but they shouldn’t throw around the “Queen” brand so carelessly because it was Freddie who invented it.

  • RedRoseQueen1

    Ryan in L.A.? Lambert has “no charisma or stage presence”? That comment is blatantly absurd on EVERY level! He is world renowned for BOTH as well as his outstanding vocal range and technique.

    As far as selling tickets…his INTERNATIONAL Glam Nation Tour sold out all over the world in 2010. You are obviously not a fan and therefore do not keep current. My husband and I are of the Queen generation and have also seen Lambert live EIGHT times.HE ROCKS!
    Brian and Roger also wrote and co-wrote many Queen songs. Saying they should stick to “small venues” etc..is as dumb as saying the same of Paul McCartney. HE still sells out HUGE venues. And rightly so.

    Adam Lambert has a GREAT and abiding respect for Freddie and the music of Queen. He was weaned on their music.It sounds like you’re just one of those butt-hurt Freddie fans that (unreasonably) feels that they and their songs should be retired/buried, rather than reach a whole NEW generation, as they will surely do with Lambert, May and Taylor.

    Enjoy it or don’t. The choice is yours. Either way, “THE SHOW MUST DO ON” ;D

  • Frank Martin

    I’ll give Queen with Adam Lambert or whomever else they get a chance with a new record if it delivers. It’s gotta have trademark harmonies, solos, grooves, riffs, attitude, but most of all songs that kill.

    Cosmos Rocks didn’t rock at all. It didn’t deliver any of the trademark Queen. I don’t care about the concerts because they won’t be close enough to see anyway so a record is what I need.

    Give us A Night At The Opera meets News of the World meets JAZZ.

    If you are going to have only one record make it one that counts.