In a new interview with Billy Sloan of BBC Radio Scotland, legendary vocalist Paul Rodgers reflected on his experience fronting QUEEN between 2004 and 2009. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Brian (May, QUEEN guitarist) said to me, ‘Can we get together and just do a couple of shows for fun in Europe?’ And I said, ‘Well, it sounds good.’ ‘Cause we’d played ‘All Right Now’ together and we played ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’, and it sort of made sense at that point in time. They’re very versatile; their music is, I mean, wow. There’s so many great songs that they’ve actually — hits that they’ve got. I said, ‘Sure, let’s just do that. Let’s do a couple of dates and see how we go.’ Well, that couple of dates turned into four years. We toured the world twice, and we made a studio album, so it really got involved. At the end of the day, though, I did think that I was getting too far away from my own kind of music and I wanted to step away from it. But it was a wild and exciting run.”
Regarding his approach to singing songs originally written and recorded by late QUEEN frontman Freddie Mercury, Paul said: “Well, I wondered, really, what people would make of it, but basically I always have followed the music wherever my whole life; I’ve just followed the music. And it seemed to me that when we played together — if we hadn’t had played together, I might have had very much second thoughts. But we had done, and it was such a musical success playing ‘All Right Now’ with the guys — and we also, later on, we did ‘Feel Like Making Love’, we did ‘Wishing Well’, and every one of them, they performed fantastically. Brian‘s a great guitar player, so there’s no problem there. And I said to myself, ‘Now, how do I do this, because I don’t really wanna be stepping into anybody’s shoes. I wanna be myself.’ And actually, Brian Johnson from AC/DC, I’d read an interview by him, and when he was gonna join that band, and the first night on stage, the guitar player said to him, and he looked very nervous, and he was very nervous, so he says in this interview, and he said that, ‘Hey, don’t worry about anything. Just go and be yourself.’ And I’d read that interview, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s what I’ll do. I’m not gonna try and replace anybody, I’m just gonna be myself.’ So what I did was I set out, really, to basically interpret their songs in my way, and that’s really how I handled it.”
Asked what he thinks of Adam Lambert, the 2009 “American Idol” runner-up who is fronting the current incarnation of QUEEN, Paul said: “Well, you know, I think he’s perfect for the band… I haven’t really followed them since then, but from what I’ve seen, he’s great.”
Paul previously discussed his QUEEN stint last month in an interview with TalkShopLive‘s The Rock N Roll Channel. When interviewer Steve Harkins noted that Rodgers “energized” and “breathed life” into QUEEN, Paul said: “They hadn’t toured. They’d done lots of one-off shows with various great people — Elton John and George Michael. They’re some great singers, but they never toured with them. And I was able to get them out touring, because they knew that they had the songs, but they just didn’t feel confident enough to get out there and actually, you know, do a tour. And that’s what we did together. And the fans were lovely. They were beautiful.”
Paul‘s latest comments are similar to those he made in a 2019 interview with SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. At the time, he stated about the experience of fronting QUEEN: “Well, it was a wild ride, I’ll tell you. And it came out of the blue. When Brian asked me if I wanted to do a couple of shows just for fun in Europe, I was pretty taken aback. And I must say my first reaction was, ‘Well, I really don’t see that.’ But then I said to myself, ‘Well, it’s a challenge. Let me see if I can do it. Maybe I’m chickening out here.’ So I did it. And it turned into four years, actually. We toured all over the place. We toured the world twice, and we finished off with a studio album of all-original material. So it was a wild and crazy ride, as they say. And we are still friends, and I love the guys.”
With Rodgers at the mic, QUEEN embarked on two world tours and released an album, “The Cosmos Rocks”, in 2008. They amicably parted ways a year later when Rodgers returned to BAD COMPANY.
“When I sort of joined forces with (QUEEN), they were not touring,” Rodgers recalled to “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. “They were doing one-off gigs — they were big one-off gigs, but they weren’t touring. And with me, what we did (is) we went out… They wanted to play 50 percent of their music and 50 percent of mine, and I said to them, ‘People haven’t seen QUEEN live for a long time. We should make it QUEEN heavy.’ So we did four or five of my songs… But it was great. It was good.”
Rodgers has said in previous interviews that he performed all of the QUEEN songs in Mercury‘s original keys. “A lot of people drop the keys,” Paul said. “But, to me, the challenge was to do this material the way it was done, but in my interpretation of it.”
The current incarnation of QUEEN, featuring Lambert, was created in 2011 and has gone on several tours, including worldwide runs in 2014-15 and 2017-18.
In a 2014 interview with the Toronto Sun, May and drummer Roger Taylor admitted that their collaboration with Lambert is a better fit than their previous involvement with Rodgers.
“Paul has one of the greatest rock voices but it’s more blues- and soul-orientated, I would have thought,” Taylor told the Toronto Sun. “I would say, with all due respect to Paul, that Adam is more suited to a lot of our material and whereas we had great tours with Paul, I think Adam is more naturally at home with us.” May concurred and added that Lambert‘s remarkable range and flamboyant stage presence are much more in line with those of Mercury. “Yeah, I think the styles match more closely in a sense,” May said. “But we had a great time with Paul, no doubt about it, and it kind of stretched it to a new place and, I think, a thoroughly good experience. But Adam is really… Like us, he has many, many colors, so we can explore some of those strange excursions that QUEEN likes to.”