"I realised what it was like to stand in Freddie's shoes, and it was not an easy gig": Paul Rodgers looks back on the challenge of fronting Queen

Queen with Paul Rodgers
(Image credit: Morena Brengola/Getty Images)

In the wake of the star-studded and emotional Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held at London's Wembley Stadium and televised worldwide on April 20, 1992, speculation intensified as to who could possibly replace the iconic singer as the band's focal point if Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor were to decide to carry on as Queen.

At one point, in recognition of his superb performances of 39, Somebody To Love and - alongside Lisa Stansfield - These Are The Days Of Our Lives at Wembley, pop superstar George Michael was the 'bookie's favourite' to land the role, but that proposition was never seriously considered by either party, with Roger Taylor going on record to say that the idea "wouldn't have suited us." In truth, as May and Taylor have repeated ad infinitum since Mercury's passing, no-one could possible replace their dear friend, arguably the greatest frontman in rock n' roll history.

This being the case, respect is due to former Free/Bad Company/The Firm vocalist Paul Rodgers for having both the musical chops, the self-confidence, and the balls, to step up to work with the surviving members of Queen from 2004 to 2009, even if it was made crystal-clear on all official websites that Rodgers would be "featured with" Queen, billed as "Queen + Paul Rodgers", and would emphatically not be "replacing" the great showman.

In the next issue of Classic Rock magazine, on sale on Friday, September 15, Rodgers recalls the whole experience as "a good time."

"But to start with, Brian [May] and Roger [Taylor] wanted to do a lot more Free and Bad Company songs because they were big fans," he reveals. "I said, 'Look, the world has been waiting to hear you and your songs, so let’s keep it Queen heavy'."

"When I became a part of Queen I had a lot of respect for Freddie," Rodgers adds, "but when I left I had even more, because I now know what he went through."

In a new interview with TalkShopLive's The Rock N Roll Channel, Rodgers also speaks about this matter.

"By the time I'd toured with the guys and done all that, I realised what it was like to stand in Freddie's shoes, and it was not an easy gig," he says. "I mean, they have so many great songs, and it was a really, really enlightening experience, actually."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.