‘I’m just excited to pay respect’: Adam Lambert fires back at purists who question his role in Queen

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Adam Lambert’s long-awaited stateside appearance with Queen at the iHeartRadio Festival sparks anew the debate over his filling in for the late Freddie Mercury, even though he’s at least the fourth singer to do so alongside surviving members Roger Taylor and Brian May.

“It’s been interesting,” Lambert says in this AOL clip. “There are some purists out there who are, like: ‘There’s only one Freddie Mercury.’ I know that. I agree! I’m just excited to pay respect to his memory, and to his songwriting — and, hopefully, bring this music alive again for fans of the songs.”

Lambert first performed with Queen for a finale of “American Idol,” then at the 2011 EMA Awards — though, in both cases, that was only for a few tracks. Last summer, he participated in a series of full-length European shows.

Now Lambert’s set to make his U.S. debut with Queen in September, following in the footsteps of Mercury successors George Michael (once in 1992), Paul Rodgers (2005-09) and Keane’s Tom Chaplin (once in 2010). Mercury, one of rock music’s most identifiable and dynamic performers, died in 1991 from AIDS complications.

For Lambert, performing with Queen is something he’s particularly proud to do because Mercury’s music always had such a special place in his own life.

“I’ve always loved Queen,” Lambert says. “When I found out about Queen, and first heard their albums from my dad’s record collection, I was, like: ‘What is this?!’ Because I had been into musical theater, and there was such a crossover. It’s rock, but it’s so theatrical. A lightbulb went off for me. I went: ‘Oh, so that’s what rock ‘n’ roll came be.'”

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