Queen’s Brian May discusses what Adam Lambert can do that Freddie Mercury couldn’t

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For Brian May, continuing on as Queen with Roger Taylor came down to musical chemistry, to friendly rivalry and to a lingering sense of ownership — despite the fact that former bandmates John Deacon and Freddie Mercury weren’t around.

“When Roger and I play, you can put, in some way, the stamp of Queen on it,” May tells Universal Music. “It’s not Queen like the old days, but it’s the spirit of Queen that’s alive when we play together. We don’t have John anymore, because John opted out. We don’t have [the late] Freddie. But we have what we built, and we still have our bodies, which are able to make music. Now and again, we find a way of doing it.”

Most recently, that’s been alongside Adam Lambert, who’s been working with Queen off and on since his 2009 appearance as a finalist on American Idol. Over that period, which includes a well-received on-going world tour, May says he’s come to better understand Lambert’s strengths as a performer.

“When something comes out of the blue, like Adam Lambert,” May says, “where did he come from? I can’t imagine. [Laughs.] We didn’t look for this guy, but suddenly he’s there. And he can sing all of those lines. See, they’re difficult songs to sing, Queen songs. There’s too much range that plenty of people can’t sing them in the original key — even if they are good singers. Adam comes along, and he can do it easy. He can do it in his sleep! [Laughs.] He can sing higher than even Freddie could, in a live situation.”

Lambert and Queen head to Europe for a 26-date tour in 2015, having hit North America, Australia and elsewhere this year. May and Taylor recently oversaw a new release called Queen Forever, featuring some never-before-heard material from the Mercury era. Lambert is also at work on a separate solo project.

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