NEW YORK -- Adam Lambert has never paid attention to the haters, and he won’t start now as the lead singer for the rock band Queen on their upcoming summer tour.
"You just can’t focus on that crap, especially in today’s day and age, the Internet, and everybody has an opinion and a comment. That’s not why we do this," Lambert told The Associated Press.
Lambert first performed with Queen in 2009 when he was a contestant on "American Idol," where he placed second. The band and Lambert have since performed together, including last year’s iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas and a European tour in 2012. They sang such hits as "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You."
Still, Lambert has to stand in the shadow of the singer many regard as one of the greatest to front a rock band.
"At first it was a little daunting when we did our first incarnation of this. I definitely felt apprehensive. Freddie Mercury is one of the greatest singers that ever lived," Lambert said.
"It’s such a treat for me to get on stage and pay my respects, and pay tribute to one of my favorite singers ever, and to sing some of the greatest music ever written," Lambert added.
The 19-date U.S. tour kicks off June 19 in Chicago. It wraps up July 20 in Washington, D.C. Tickets went on sale Friday.
Original members Brian May and Roger Taylor flanked Lambert for the news conference Thursday and, in the interviews that followed, defended their choice as Mercury’s
" ‘American Idol’ is a long way in the past for Adam now. He’s a solo artist and well-established. And also we are established as a partnership ... if you concentrate on the negative you’re not going to get anywhere. It’s very important to have focus, and you play to people who want to hear us," May said.
"Good is good, and quality is quality," Taylor added on Lambert’s ability.
May said the band will pay tribute to Mercury in the show. But "The mere fact that we’re playing songs that Freddie wrote is a tribute," he said.
The guitarist also touched on releasing some old recordings of Freddie Mercury, including a collaboration with Michael Jackson, recorded in 1983. Mercury died in 1991; Jackson in 2009.
"I was surprised that there was a little bit more in the can that we had overlooked for a long time, so we have a few songs which we’re working on right now. Freddie songs as fresh as yesterday," May said. "It’s really amazing. We’re all playing together, and I think people will enjoy it.
While Mercury has been gone for 23 years, his legacy has lived on. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, has sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide, and has a longstanding musical, celebrating the band’s catalog that has played on London’s West End for 12 years.
"It’s been a constant reminder to people of our music, especially younger fans making us cross generational. And ‘We Will Rock You: The Musical’ has played a big part in that," May said.
That prompted Lambert to add: "What’s so genius about the catalog is that there are so many different colors. There are huge power ballads that are really important like "Who Wants to Live Forever," and "The Show Must Go On." Huge, amazing dramatic songs. There are these songs that are all different vibe."