Brian May admits that Queen‘s 50th anniversary this year is bittersweet without Freddie Mercury, who died 30 years ago. Last month, the band launched its 12-month golden anniversary celebrations — with a string of rare and iconic clips to be shown throughout the year on YouTube. The concerts will chronicle the band’s historic career from Queen’s earliest shows at London’s Rainbow and Odeon through today with their sold-out arena shows with latest front-man, Adam Lambert.

Brian May, who now leads the band with co-founding drummer Roger Taylor, spoke with The Daily Express and discussed Queen turning 50: “Well I’m proud. Of course, we’re proud of what we’ve done and we’re still around. We just kind of didn’t want to harp on it. We just thought, ‘Let’s just celebrate the fact that we’re still creative.’ I think it also, because Freddie’s not here it changes our feelings a little bit. There’s always going to be that little bit of reticence in a sense.”

May went on to say that he remains eager and excited for Queen’s final act, as well: “I’m very proud of what we do now with Adam. It’s been incredible, the sort of. . . the re-birth and response we’ve had around the world. And it’s great that we can own our own legacy, own our own material and keep it alive rather than it being a museum piece or fossil. So Queen music is very much alive thanks to that fact and that’s what we’re celebrating. The fact that we’re proud and we’re still able to come up with a few surprises here and there.”

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