The Untold Truth Of Adam Lambert

Whether you know Adam Lambert from his stint on the eighth season of American Idol or his larger-than-life performances with Queen, who opened the 2019 Oscars with a bang, you may think you've heard everything there is to know about the singer. But Lambert's story goes far beyond reality TV and sold-out stadium tours with an iconic rock band.

From growing up as a self-professed "outsider" with no friends to finding solace in the theater, landing in the center of several headline-making controversies (did you know he was once arrested in Finland?!) and even bringing music icon Cher to tears, Lambert's story comes with enough intriguing and exciting ups and downs to warrant its own Hollywood movie. Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, he's made plenty of fans — and haters — since first being thrust into fame following his shocking 2009 loss on American Idol. This is the untold truth of Adam Lambert.

He was an 'outsider' before discovering theater

Even at a young age, Lambert was unapologetically true to himself and, as a result, was a self-proclaimed "outsider." Speaking with The Guardian in 2018, he opened up about the tough times he experienced growing up, saying, "When I was in middle school, I didn't have any friends. I was a weird kid. Also, as a gay person, it takes your body changing to go: 'Oh right, this is how I'm different.'" So he turned to musical theater for solace. 

As he revealed during his 2009 American Idol audition, he started singing at 10 when his parents put him in theater. "I was hyperactive and I made a lot of noise and I had way too much energy," he recalled. "So they had to find an outlet for me and I loved it." He wound of loving the theater so much that, when he was older, instead of going to university, he accepted a 10-month gig singing on a cruise ship. 

Once he was back on solid ground, he returned to his theater roots, snagging a role in The Ten Commandments: The Musical with Val Kilmer. In 2005, he joined the ensemble cast of Wicked's national touring production and was also slotted as Fiyero's understudy. As he told TheaterMania, he did get to play the male lead at least once, but his performance quickly went awry when he "slid down" a rope and fell onto the stage, dropping his prop gun. Oops!

Was cheating to blame for his American Idol loss?

Following American Idol's shocking season 8 finale, in which fan favorite Adam Lambert lost to fellow contestant Kris Allen, it was revealed that the latter may have had an unfair advantage, as he received "tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of illegal block votes," The Independent reported. Dubbed #Textgate, the voting scandal had Lambert's fans crying foul as they learned that one of the reality show's biggest sponsors, AT&T, actually gave Allen fans who attended viewing parties in his hometown free phones and texting services, so they could support him on finale night. What's more, AT&T employees even showed attendees how to power vote, casting as many as 10 votes with one click. Bobby Kierna, the mom of one of Allen's university friends, told reporters that she alone was able to vote 10,840 times while in an AT&T texting zone.

Lambert fans didn't get the same treatment, but Fox, the network that aired American Idol at the time, remained adamant that "in no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition."

Fans felt 'betrayed' after his public coming out

When Lambert was 18, he told his parents he was gay and, as he recalled in a 2018 interview with Billboard, his liberal family wasn't surprised: "They kind of went, 'Yeah, no s***.'" From that moment on, he never hid his sexual orientation, but he also didn't think to announce it once he found fame. "By the time I did American Idol, I had been very gay for years. I guess I didn't realize I had to [publicly] label myself," he told the outlet.

That changed in 2009 when Lambert did come out publicly in a Rolling Stone cover story, proclaiming, "I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay." Except that it was a surprise for some. "I had fans of the show saying they felt betrayed," he told The Guardian in 2018. "People were saying: 'You didn't declare it on the show.' I didn't, but I also didn't realize that I needed to. I'd already come out." What's more, "the gay press criticized me for not [coming out] right or well enough."

Speaking with NME, he elaborated, "It was interesting because there were members of the gay community saying, 'Why aren't you out? I thought, 'I am out!' I didn't realize when you're in the public eye you've got to declare it. It was interesting to be learning as it was happening. 'Oh this is what it is to be a queer celebrity.'"

He accused Simon Cowell of gay shaming

Looking back on his Idol stint in a 2018 interview with NME, Lambert called out the show, especially head judge Simon Cowell, for gay shaming. "I realize now that up until my season, anytime someone came on the show that was perceived to be gay or it was obvious enough that they were gay, they were a joke," he told the mag. "They were made fun of."

According to Lambert, Cowell was often leading the attack, saying that the judge "would make fun of them." Lambert added, "That was the comic relief. 'You couldn't possibly have a career as a recording artist; you're too effeminate.'" Offering Adore Delano, who went on to find fame on RuPaul's Drag Race, as an example, Lambert argued, "He's a good singer," adding, "Simon gave him a real hard time."

He went on to admit that Cowell has since changed for the better — "He sort of wised up on that angle and he realized quickly that is not acceptable anymore" — but that didn't stop him from again accusing the judge of gay shaming in an interview with The Guardian. "I'd been watching [American Idol] for years and anyone who'd been obviously gay on the show had been made fun of — Cowell would make fun of them and they became jokes," he reiterated.

He racked up 1,500 complaints with a kiss

When Adam Lambert took to the stage at the American Music Awards in 2009 to promote the title track from his debut album, "For Your Entertainment," he made jaws drop with a racy performance that was all kinds of provocative. From kissing a male musician to flipping the bird and simulating a sexual act, Lambert went over the top and then some. Audiences were not impressed and they let ABC, the network that aired the program, know exactly how they felt by filing 1,500 formal complaints, Reuters confirmed.

Addressing the backlash years later in 2018, Lambert admitted to feeling torn about the incident. "I'm always one to be kind of contrary and to debate and to prove a point. But I also didn't want to lose my shot," he confessed to NME. "I wanted to have a career that was all of a sudden available to me, so that was a bit of a conflict for me. I didn't know exactly what to do and I was scared. I backed off a little bit and I had some success." He didn't back off on tour, though. "I was kissing a musician every night on stage just to prove that point," he added.

He spent time behind bars in Finland

Talk about having a rockstar moment! Adam Lambert was arrested — and jailed — in December 2011 in Finland following a lovers' spat. The American Idol alum and his then-boyfriend, Finnish television host and reality star Sauli Koskinen, were taken into custody by authorities for fighting outside of DTM (Don't Tell Mama), a well-known gay bar in Helsinki.

Speaking with Petri Juvonen, the officer leading the investigation, The Hollywood Reporter learned that the couple was arrested at 4 a.m. and taken in for questioning about "a total of four possible assault offenses." The pair allegedly started arguing inside the club and, after being kicked out, continued their dispute on the street. The outlet also learned from local reports that a former Miss Helsinki, Sofia Ruusila, tried to stop the quarrel by getting in between the two men and was accidentally hit by Lambert.

The couple was later released after spending several hours in jail. Lambert addressed the drama with a tweet, writing, "Jetlag + Vodka = blackout. Us ÷ blackout = irrational confusion. Jail + guilt + press = lesson learned. Sauli + Adam + hangover burgers = laughing bout it."

He's loved Queen for a long time

The first time the world saw Lambert he was 26, auditioning for American Idol by belting out Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but his love of the rock band started long before that. Speaking with Billboard, Lambert revealed that he became "fully obsessed" with Queen in his early 20s. "Freddie was one of my heroes," he said, explaining, "Musically, I loved his attack: He was very aggressive and seemed in control of everything he was singing. Later, seeing some live performances [on video], it was also his stage presence, the way he was so over the top. ... I identified with that in him very quickly." There was also another aspect he identified with — Mercury's approach to sexuality. Lambert shared that he appreciated that Mercury "never really denied" being gay, noting that the singer wasn't "shy" about it and just lived life openly.

During Idol's 2009 finale, Lambert performed "We Are the Champions" with Queen's founding members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, who were so impressed that they went on tour as Queen + Adam Lambert in 2012. But despite his deep-rooted love for the band, Lambert was apprehensive. He admitted to People, "I definitely had some concerns. This is not my music that I wrote: This is me, as a guest, with one of the greatest rock bands of all time, singing the songs that one of the greatest rock singers of all time brought to life." He added, "And Freddie is irreplaceable."

Freddie Mercury would be jealous

We'll never know what Freddie Mercury would have made of Adam Lambert's powerful voice and electric stage presence, but, according to Queen's very own Brian May, the late legend would have been proud. And a little jealous.

Speaking with Louder Sound in 2017, May tried to gauge Mercury's potential reaction to Lambert, saying, "I always think that Freddie, with a wicked smile, would say something like 'I hate you, Madam Lambert,' because even Freddie would have been gobsmacked at his range and his ability to reinterpret these songs which the four of us originally created together." And that is exactly how he and bandmate Roger Taylor feel about Lambert. "Roger and I have seen literally thousands of singers in our lifetimes including some great ones auditioning for our We Will Rock You show ... but we've never seen or heard anything like Adam," May told the magazine.

And it would seem that fans agree. May pointed out, "It's been very obvious that not just the old folks, but at least two new generations around the world have absolutely latched on to Queen music, and love it, and have woven it into their lives; and they love seeing us play it live with this 'boy.'"

He made a secret Bohemian Rhapsody cameo

Even fans with the keenest eyes were likely to miss Adam Lambert's most subtle of cameos in the Oscar-winning movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Back on Oct. 30, 2018, the singer teased a "very, very mysterious" (and uncredited) appearance in the flick during a red carpet interview with Billboard at the movie's New York City premiere, but he refused to say any more than that. Speculation began instantly with the outlet pointing to a scene in which Freddie Mercury (played by Oscar winner Rami Malek) calls fiancée Mary Austin (played by Lucy Boynton) from a truck stop while out on tour. As he's on the phone with her, an anonymous truck driver arrives, the pair lock eyes, and it's implied they hook up in the bathroom.

Lambert didn't confirm or deny the rumors until months later. Taking to Twitter to promote the digital release of Bohemian Rhapsody in January 2019, he shared a snap of that exact character — complete with a beard, denim jacket, and red trucker hat — and joked, "Who is he!?" adding smirking and crying laughing emojis.

He made Cher cry after a performance

You know you're doing something right when you can bring OG diva Cher to tears... with her own song! Lambert hit a real high note when he helped honor Cher at the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors in December 2018, belting out covers of "I Got You Babe," which he performed with Cyndi Lauper, and "Believe." It was the latter that really wowed, though, as Lambert delivered a unique rendition of the pop star's 1998 smash hit, which was a slower, more toned down version of the dance anthem. Cher certainly approved. As Today reported, she was brought to tears by the ballad-esque take on her song and was the first one out of her seat to offer a standing ovation.

She was so impressed, in fact, that she continued the love fest on Twitter, writing, "Tried to write feelings about Adam Lambert singing 'Believe' in words, but can't seem to. When your senses are overwhelmed, all can you feel with your [heart]." Lambert instantly wrote back, "It was a total honor @Cher!!!! You're a goddess!"

Fame left him feeling 'lonely' and 'depressed'

Fame can have a negative impact on even the strongest of artists — that's something Adam Lambert knows all about. Opening up about his struggles with superstardom in a series of tweets in February 2019, Lambert revealed that "there have been many times where I've had to compromise on my artistic vision, with executives making decisions based on money and not art." Speaking candidly, he admitted, "I'm coming out of a dark period of second-guessing my own artistry and having my mental health suffer because of it. I started asking myself, 'Is all this hustle really worth it?' I put all my focus on work and started to feel detached in my personal life. My self-worth was suffering, I was lonely and becoming depressed."

Crediting Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor with rescuing him and providing "tons of positive energy," Lambert added that working with the band "helped keep [his] head above water," and he noted that he remains thankful for Freddie Mercury for inspiring him. And so, "with a bit of professional help, and the support of colleagues, friends and family," Lambert "pulled [himself] out of the darkness." He rediscovered his true passion for music and began penning songs that "chronicle the journey of taking responsibility for [his] own happiness and strength, and searching for intimacy."

Who needs an Oscars host?

When Variety first confirmed that the 2019 Oscars would have no host — Kevin Hart was originally expected to host but bowed out after old homophobic tweets of his resurfaced — fans were confused. However, it turned out that the 91st Academy Awards did just fine without one, replacing the opening monologue with an electric performance from Queen + Adam Lambert. Performing a medley of "We Will Rock You" and "We are the Champions," the band set the tone for the night and, as Polygon pointed out, Lambert "brought more energy than the average Oscars host usually would."

Less than 24 hours later, ABC revealed in a press release that it would be following up the band's high-octane performance with a two-hour documentary titled The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story. The doc, which was produced by Queen's longtime manager Jim Beach and writer/filmmaker Simon Lupton, covers 17 years, beginning with frontman Freddie Mercury's passing in 1991 when Lambert was just 10 years old.

As detailed in the announcement, the flick uses "rare concert footage and exclusive, revealing portraits of the band members offstage" to trace Queen and Lambert's journeys, both separately and together. It also features exclusive interviews with Lambert and his parents, as well as founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor, American Idol's Simon Cowell, and Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek.