Whatever Happened To Adam Lambert?

Adam Lambert was born in 1982 in Indianapolis, Indiana, before moving with his family to San Diego when he was still a baby. Even as a youngster, Lambert envisioned himself becoming an entertainer. "I had just started falling in love with musical theater when I was 10," Lambert said in an interview with The Hot Desk. At that age, he scored the role of Linus in a local production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

That experience spurred him to undertake voice training while appearing in more stage musicals throughout his teenage years. When he was 19, he landed a job singing on a cruise ship. He credits that gig with preparing him for a future in show business. "I was so young ... I was so green — I hadn't been through a lot of professional stuff yet, so it was good for me to do a show that long and sing songs so many times over 10 months," he told The Hot Desk. After that, he appeared in a big-budget 2004 theatrical production, "The Ten Commandments," working alongside Val Kilmer, who starred in the musical as Moses.

Just a few years later, Lambert would seek fame on "American Idol." His audition for the popular singing competition show turned out to be an experience that would change his life in ways he couldn't have even imagined. Read on to find out what happened to Adam Lambert.

He made his mark on American Idol

In 2009, future superstar Adam Lambert auditioned for the eighth season of "American Idol." He immediately captured the judges' attention with a stunning a cappella cover of Queen's operatic rock classic "Bohemian Rhapsody." Boasting a theatricality honed by years of musical theater, Lambert quickly became a fan favorite, surviving the weekly eliminations with standout performances. Eventually, it all came down to him and Kris Allen. During the season finale, Lambert and Allen hit the stage to sing Queen's "We Are the Champions," joined by two original Queen band members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. That brief performance would play a key role in Lambert's future.

In a surprising upset that shocked viewers, Allen was declared the winner. However, anyone who watched the season saw Lambert was the true star. Nobody was more surprised with his victory than Allen himself. "But I will say that I had no idea I was going to win ... I was not expecting that — and I think you could see that on my face," Allen told WTOP News.

While Lambert wanted the win, he knew his future was assured either way. "I'd already been told by the powers that be that they wanted to sign me to a major label and I got my wish," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I knew I was going to make an album whether or not I won."

Did Lambert's sexuality contribute to his American Idol loss?

While the sexuality of "American Idol" contestants is not a big deal these days, that certainly wasn't the case during the show's early years in the 2000s. Case in point: Second-season runner-up Clay Aiken dodged questions for years before confirming in 2008 that, yes, he was gay. That stigma still surrounded the show during Adam Lambert's run on "American Idol," and there was much speculation about his sexuality. Those whispers grew significantly louder when photos emerged online of Lambert dressed in drag and kissing another man while attending Burning Man. "I have nothing to hide. I am who I am. And this is about singing ... nothing else," Lambert told "Access Hollywood" (via ABC News) in response to those photos.

Lambert finally laid the matter to rest in an interview with Rolling Stone, published shortly after his "Idol" loss. "I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay," he told the magazine. "I'm proud of my sexuality," he added. "I embrace it. It's just another part of me."

More than a decade later, Lambert reflected on his "Idol" experience in a 2023 interview with Variety. Asked if he now believed that his loss in the finale was due to homophobia, he wouldn't rule it out. "Probably," he responded. "But it was 10 years ago."

His debut album was an instant smash

Just a few months after his second-place finish on "American Idol," Adam Lambert released his first album, "For Your Entertainment." The album's reviews were mixed but generally positive. Lambert even received a Grammy nomination — in the male pop vocal performance category — for the album's single, "Whataya Want From Me." As Lambert explained in an interview with Marie Claire, he viewed the single as the ideal introduction to his professional music career. 

"It is a great way for me to say, 'What do you guys want from me?' I'm doing my best," he said. In that interview, he also admitted his biggest fear about the album was that nobody would buy it. "That people will stop being interested," he explained. "I think that's my biggest fear."

Of course, that never happened. As Billboard reported, it spoke volumes that the album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling nearly 200,000 copies — while "Idol" winner Kris Allen's debut album, released just one week earlier, arrived in 11th place, selling only 80,000 copies.

His AMAs performance stirred up controversy — and FCC complaints

In December 2009, Adam Lambert was one of the artists who performed at the American Music Awards and he gave one of the most talked-about and controversial performances in the history of the show. At various points during his performance, Lambert kissed a male musician and held a leash attached to the necks of two male backup dancers — who donned S&M gear and crawled on all fours. At one point, Lambert pulled a dancer's head aggressively toward his crotch.

Not only were those moments edited out of the West Coast airing of the live broadcast, but it also earned complaints from the notorious Parents Television Council (an advocacy group that flags television content they deem to be indecent, reportedly responsible for 99% of all complaints to the Federal Communications Commission at the time), and the Liberty Council, a group associated with late televangelist Jerry Falwell. Those complaints led to cancellations of Lambert's scheduled appearances on "Good Morning America," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and ABC's annual New Year's Eve broadcast.

Looking back on the performance during an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Lambert conceded he may have pushed the envelope a bit further than he should have. "It was maybe a little too far," Lambert admitted. "I think in hindsight, I look back on it and I go, 'Okay, maybe that wasn't the best first impression to make.'"

His first concert tour was a blockbuster

The controversy generated by Adam Lambert's AMA performance may have resulted in some canceled television appearances, but the outrage didn't appear to harm his burgeoning music career. If anything, the notoriety only sparked further interest in him. That was evident when Lambert announced he was hitting the road for his first-ever concert tour. "I'm pulling out all the stops," Lambert said during an appearance on "On Air with Ryan Seacrest," teasing his inaugural tour. "I want it to feel atmospheric. I want it to feel like you're somewhere else, to transport people."

Speaking with LAsThePlace.com, Lambert explained the concept behind his freshman tour. "The show is — it's predominantly music from the album and I tried to give it, like, an emotional through line so that it kind of went from kind of the dark and mysterious to light and celebratory," he explained. "But of course my version of dark and serious is also very [tongue in cheek] and kitschy with lots of rhinestones."

Joined by fellow "Idol" alum Allison Iraheta and guitar-slinging singer Orianthi, Lambert's Glam Nation tour kicked off in the spring of 2010. "I hope the audience will be able to escape for a few hours and fall into a world full of glam, drama and excitement," Lambert said of his tour in a statement he shared on his website. Ultimately, the tour was a smash, with numerous dates selling out, guaranteeing it would not be his last.

Reuniting with Queen at the MTV European Music Awards sparked their future partnership

When Adam Lambert and Kris Allen performed with the surviving members of Queen during the 2009 "American Idol" finale, Lambert's vocal stylings drew comparisons to late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. After that conversation, Queen guitarist Brian May told Rolling Stone that he and bandmate Roger Taylor were eager to talk with Lambert about potentially collaborating in the future.

Those comparisons grew louder in November 2011, when Lambert reunited with Queen for a performance at MTV's European Music Awards, where the band was honored with the Global Icon Award. "It was such an honor to be asked to sing with Queen tonight, obviously one of my favorite rock bands of all time," Lambert said during a backstage interview at the EMAs.

Lambert proved to be a fantastic fill-in for Mercury, with his soaring vocals tackling "The Show Must Go On," "We Are the Champions," and "We Will Rock You." Weeks later, Taylor revealed to Billboard that they'd been talking with Lambert about him joining the band on a tour, but nothing was official then. In the summer of 2012, Lambert performed with Queen in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, the first full concert they'd played together. That performance was followed by a brief European tour that was viewed as an experiment to see whether this new iteration of Queen would work — and whether fans would feel that he was doing justice to Mercury and his memory.

He parted ways with two record labels

In 2012, Adam Lambert released his second album, "Trespassing," and there was no evidence of the dreaded sophomore slump. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. Not only was that his first No. 1 album, but it also marked the first time an openly gay male solo artist held the top spot on that chart. While critics were divided on his first album, this one was universally met with raves.

Despite the success of his first two albums, in early 2013, Lambert announced he was leaving his label, 19 Recordings, which signed "American Idol" contestants. A source told The Hollywood Reporter that the decision for Lambert's departure was mutual. "Adam can move forward with his plans and 19 isn't stuck in the middle," the source said. Lambert remained on the roster of 19's parent label, RCA — for a while, at least.

The Hollywood Reporter reported that Lambert was exiting RCA in the summer of that same year. According to THR, the bone of contention was the label's insistence that his third album consist of a collection of '80s covers — something Lambert wasn't interested in doing. "My heart is simply not in doing a covers album," he wrote in a letter to the outlet, insisting that he was more interested in progressing the evolution of his music rather than rehashing his "Idol" experience by singing cover tunes. In 2015, he signed with Warner Bros. Records.

He officially joined Queen for a world tour

That 2012 mini-tour with Queen apparently checked all the boxes, and in 2014, Adam Lambert officially hit the road with the British rockers for a full-fledged stadium tour. Billed as Queen + Adam Lambert, the tour was an unequivocal success that was extended into 2015 and only served to broaden Lambert's already expanding fanbase. "It's so crazy that this came out of 'American Idol,'" Lambert marveled in an interview with Rolling Stone, admitting he wasn't so much trying to fill Freddie Mercury's shoes as he was attempting to honor his predecessor's legacy.

Lambert would continue to perform with Queen in the following years, joining them on tour in 2017 for what was initially intended as a North American jaunt that wound up being expanded through to 2018, adding dates in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. That was followed by a 2019 tour, which was once again extended through 2020 — until being abruptly derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When performing with Queen, Lambert said in a 2017 interview with Esquire that he'd always been conscious of the extra responsibility that the gig carried with it. "I don't want to imitate, copy, or mimic; I think that would be sort of tacky, and it'd be sort of disrespectful to the fans," he explained. "I'm not here to do an impersonation. I'm here to make sure these songs are still heard, to keep the songs in a live space."

He resumed his solo career with even greater success

Adam Lambert could have easily slid full-time into his new role as Queen's frontman, raking in millions from concert tours worldwide while basking in acclaim for performing the band's beloved rock hits. Yet that wouldn't have fulfilled his creative desires, so after wrapping his first full-fledged Queen tour, he released his third album, 2015's "The Original High."

For his first album for his new label, Warner Bros., Lambert worked with Swedish pop producers Max Martin and Shellback, creating an album that The New York Times claimed had few missteps and little extravagance; by shedding the glam he'd become known for, he delivered authenticity. "After years of spectacle, Mr. Lambert may have been saved by modesty," noted the review, which also described the first single, "Ghost Town," as "perhaps his best single to date." In support of the album, Lambert embarked on another solo tour, the Original High Tour.

That album allowed Lambert to break free from any labels pinned on him during the previous few years, particularly the glam image he'd previously reveled in. "I think defining yourself by a genre ... can be limiting," said Lambert in an interview for the Grammys. "So with ['The Original High'] I went in there and the goal was more, 'Let's deliver something honest, let's deliver something emotional, let's deliver something that will connect with as many people as possible.'"

He continued to juggle his solo work with Adam Lambert + Queen

In the years following the release of "The Original High," Adam Lambert continued to perform with Queen while dipping in and out of his solo career. "I'm not consciously making a decision to ignore the fact that I work with Queen," Lambert said of maintaining his solo work in a 2023 interview with Forbes. "But at this point it's been 10 years touring with them. It's part of who I am, fully. It's a part of my identity. It's a part of my musical identity. I've learned a lot from them and being on the road with them."

He's also undertaken other projects outside the realm of recording albums and performing onstage. In 2016, that included a return to his musical theater roots when he joined the cast of a TV remake of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," starring actor and trans activist Laverne Cox. Lambert took on the role of Eddie, originally played by rocker Meat Loaf in the 1975 film.

Yet the success of Queen + Adam Lambert tended to overshadow everything else. That was clear when Lambert and guitarist Brian May teamed up to open the 2019 Oscars by delivering an incendiary performance that blew the roof off the joint. His unique and unexpected partnership with the British rock veterans inspired a 2019 documentary, "The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story."

He revealed the truth behind his 60 pound weight loss

In March 2024, Adam Lambert took to Instagram Live to reveal that he'd lost a staggering amount of weight in a relatively short period. Heavy reported that he was chatting with fans about Oprah Winfrey's recent television special that discussed the weight-loss drug Ozempic and her admission that she'd shed pounds via the drug.

"Actually, I'll use this opportunity to talk about — I'm dropping some tea on you guys right now!" Lambert declared. "I've been on Mounjaro for the last, I think, eight months and I've lost almost 60 pounds. I feel amazing." As Lambert explained, he'd initially started taking Ozempic but began to experience some side effects, including severe acid reflux. "When I switched to Mounjaro, a lot of those symptoms went away and I had hardly any side effects and I feel incredible."

He also divulged that the weight he'd gained had impacted his mental health to the point that he'd been taking antidepressants. Losing those pounds via Mounjaro, however, had brightened his mood so much that he was no longer using antidepressants. "It's affected my mental health [in] a really positive way," he said of his experience with Mounjaro.

He opened a Hollywood nightclub and joined The Voice Australia

In 2024, Adam Lambert remains busier and in higher demand than ever. In late 2023, he and Queen drummer Roger Taylor were among the partners to open The Wild, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in West Hollywood. Then, in February 2024, Lambert was announced as one of three new coaches for "The Voice Australia," the Down Under version of NBC's popular singing competition "The Voice." Joining fellow judges LeAnn Rimes and Australian singer Kate Miller-Heidke, Lambert's role took him full circle, from a TV singing contestant on "American Idol" to a judge. 

As for what's next, Lambert has indicated that he's still got plenty of tricks up his sleeve. "There is so much I'm working on that I can't wait to share with my fans and the world," he told Australia's News.com in late February 2024. "This is a really exciting time for me so you can expect some hints and drops and announcements coming out this year."