The Meaning Behind Adam Lambert's Tattoos

Adam Lambert has never been one to shy away from self-expression. Since the performer first captivated the public with his personal brand of glam-rock chic and his powerhouse pipes as a contestant on American Idol in 2009, Lambert's unique look and gender nonconforming flamboyance have stood out and stayed true over the test of time. One of many factors in Lambert's eye-catching style is his outspoken love for skin artistry, evidenced by the many tattoos the singer has acquired in his past decade in the spotlight. 

But what many may not know is that Lambert's tattoos have a particular significance, and what they represent adheres to a particular timeline — namely, the trajectory of his music career. And according to Lambert, it's possible that without his first-ever tattoo, the performer wouldn't be where he is today. So what is the meaning behind Adam Lambert's tattoos, and how do they relate to the rock singer's rise to fame? Let's take a look. 

Adam Lambert's first tattoo protected him on American Idol

Adam Lambert didn't get his first tattoo until the age of 27 (pictured above), but despite being a bit of a late-bloomer, it was for a pretty good reason. As the performer recounted in a 2015 interview with iHeartRadio, Lambert picked an Egyptian eye design — specifically, the Eye of Horus — to be tatted on his wrist as a form of protection for a journey that he would embark on shortly thereafter: his debut on the eighth season of American Idol. As Lambert explained, the eye was an abstract reminder of sorts, one that would serve to protect the singer in front of the eye of the camera during filming. 

"I make up a reason for things, and I was like, 'yeah, I need an eye of protection because I'm going to be seen on camera and this will protect me,'" Lambert dished. And like that first tattoo, Lambert has continued to choose tattoo designs that are imbued with meaning. His ink is significant and deeply personal.

Though the list of Lambert's tattoos has grown quite long, among them include tats inspired by Greek gods, an infinity symbol, a skeleton key, and a mosaic, among others. But one particular piece brings his journey as a musician and LGBTQ+ icon full circle.

This tattoo brings Adam Lambert's career full circle

When Adam Lambert launched his career back in 2009 as a contestant on American Idol, it wasn't only fans of the show that noticed his dynamism and star power. He also caught the eye of Brian May and Roger Taylor, the two remaining original band members of the iconic rock outfit Queen — and it would prove to be almost an act of fate. The circumstance led the two to reach out to American Idol producers to express their admiration, participate in a performance with Lambert on the season's finale, and years later, add Lambert to their line-up as frontman, a spot originally occupied by the late Freddie Mercury

In that vein, it's only fitting that one of Lambert's tattoos is a large letter "Q" — an homage to his place in the band under the name Queen + Adam Lambert — and a reminder of his bond with both May and Taylor.

Lambert isn't the only one out of the trio with tattoos. The singer mentioned in a 2015 interview with iHeartRadio that he and Taylor, who is a few decades his senior, formed a camaraderie over the fact that they became skin art enthusiasts later in life. "[Roger Taylor] has a lot of tattoos on his legs that he got only over the past 15 years or so," Lambert said. "He's kind of just getting into tattoos as well, in his life. We definitely talked about tattoos a lot."

Adam Lambert's music is as intentional as his body art

Adam Lambert is as intentional about his tattoos as he is about all aspects of his creative life. In April 2020, he spoke to HuffPost about his music. Discussing a song called "Superpower," which he considers an anthem for himself, Lambert said, "The idea of taking control and taking back your power. I think on a personal level I've been heading that way and professionally, too. It really embodies this whole thing that I'm talking about in taking the reins."

Getting even more personal, Lambert also touched on how he feels like his American Idol experience all those years ago has inspired other young gay men. "I've actually met people that were like, 'You were the first person on TV that was talking about being gay in my experience.' This is their words, and 'Somebody that was coming out after Idol and being really bold about exactly who you were ― that was the first time I'd seen that,'" he told HuffPost. "So to know that it had that sort of impact on people's lives, that's really cool. And again, I didn't realize it at the time. But now, 10 years later, it's amazing to look back and see how far we've come."

Whether it's through his body art, music, or public persona, it's clear that Lambert is always sending a message to his fans.