Adam Lambert on His Love of David Bowie, Prince and the Who
Adam Lambert is comfortable talking about his passion for Freddie Mercury, whose music he keeps alive when he performs with Queen.
But the singer has revealed he also developed a strong connection with other classic rock artists from the era, including David Bowie, Prince and the Who.
Lambert recalled his father playing Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album when he was 10 years old – around the time he discovered Queen via the Wayne’s World movie.
“He pulled the album out of his collection, and just the cover of Bowie, half-dog, half-man, sultry and androgynous, that visual, to me, I remember being like, ‘What is that?! Who is that?’” Lambert told Forbes in a new interview. “‘Future Legend’ is the first track on that and it scared the shit out of us, my brother and I. … It was scary and eerie and I was such a Halloween fan as a kid. … So, to me, it felt like Halloween. It was my first time really understanding what a subversive rock star was.”
He added that the "thing that made Bowie so special is obviously his amazing songs, but also his visual presentation was like nothing else at the time. And he definitely carved out his own lane that way. So whenever I take a risk either sonically or visually I definitely think of artists like Bowie, who paved the way for that type of expression.”
Lambert also recalled hearing the Prince classic “Kiss” around four years later. “It's the coolest record of the '80s, in my opinion," he said. "It's just so funky, so sparse and even the lyrics, like, ‘You don't have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude.’ … I love the past, I love the classics. And I think that they are considered classics for a reason.”
He first encountered the Who’s 1969 rock opera Tommy when he auditioned for the musical version as a kid. Later, he fell in love with the 1975 movie version, especially Tina Turner’s Acid Queen.
“When I was preparing for the audition, I had to learn the main theme from it,” he recalled. “And I didn't get the part, but I remember going to see the musical after it opened in San Diego and just being blown away by it. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Then I saw the film and I went, ‘Oh, wow.’ So it's a piece I've been familiar with now for a while in its different forms. It's a great piece of music. That album is nuts. My dad ended up playing the album for me before I saw the film as well.”
Lambert also cited Hair, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the 1998 movie Velvet Goldmine as sources of inspiration. “I like going back to the old stuff. I think it's iconic for a reason,” he said.
“I suppose that's part of my love affair with the past is I like learning things that aren't force fed to me. And in today's age there is so much information and there's so much we're being told to like … there's some freedom and liberation going back and rediscovering something that was liked many years ago and figuring out why.”