On the Spot… Adam Gladdish
As a 10-year-old, Adam Gladdish became a child star in 1989 as one of the four boys who performed as Queen in The Miracle video. Following the renaissance of The Miracle album after the release of the deluxe box set last year, Adam reminisced to Dave Fordham about the experience of portraying Roger Taylor in an exclusive interview that originally appeared in the summer 2023 issue of the Official International Queen Fan Club magazine. This article is reproduced with permission and the full version is available in the fan club’s members-only archive. For Dave’s exclusive interviews in the winter 2023 magazine with Tyler Warren and Steve Gregory [One Year of Love saxophonist], join the fan club now at www.queenworld.com.
Starting at the beginning, how did the opportunity to audition for the part of Roger come about?
I started playing drums because my uncle, Steve Wren, was the drummer in Then Jerico, and my aunt was involved in the business too. I was about six or seven when I got my first drum kit.
My mum got a phone call from my aunt who had a friend (also in the business) who said Queen were looking for kids to play them in a video. Because I played the drums a little and had a blondish long haircut, my aunt sent them my picture via courier. The next thing I knew I had a call asking if I would like to go to an audition.
Prior to that first audition, how closely did you study Roger’s playing and performances?
I watched a few videos and on the train up for the audition, my uncle taught me the spinning the drumsticks trick that Roger Taylor is well known for. I practiced that just as much as the drumming and I think it was purely that which got me through the first audition because I hadn’t really learned the track at that point.
By the sound of it, you seem to still have a good memory of all the goings on?
Yes, I remember all that quite clearly and most of the auditions too. My long-term memory is good… but some of my short term is not as great these days!
So for the next audition, you went on to learn The Miracle track?
I could hold a rhythm and knew how to drum as much as a ten-year-old can, but once I got through the first audition my uncle told me that I really had to learn the track properly. So he and I spent three solid days practicing it constantly; my uncle feels guilty now because he really pushed me hard and there was lots of shouting going on!
I used to look up to my uncle as someone famous at the time because I’d been to loads of his shows and gone backstage etc, but after I got the part he told me that it was bigger than anything he’d ever done and explained just how big a band Queen was worldwide. Although I was too young to be a fan as such at that age, I was already really familiar with a few big Queen songs.
Your uncle must have been really proud as things progressed?
Yes – he still talks about the experience all the time and told me recently that he’s currently teaching drums to some schoolkids and is still using me as an example of how things can go!
From the video footage it looks like many children were competing for the roles, so how did it feel to make the final line-up?
I remember attending the first couple of auditions and just sitting behind the drumkit and playing the backing track without really knowing much about the process. I never expected to be picked as I didn’t think my drumming was up to scratch and there were so many other kids. When I found out I had been picked I couldn’t believe it.
There were a lot of stage school kids auditioning but none of the four of us selected were from that background. So they picked kids without any previous acting experience, although Ross McCall had had drama lessons and picked up the theatrical side of Freddie Mercury well.
The last audition was at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and it was down to two boys up for each part. Roger, John and Brian showed up to watch us play, and after that audition, the final four were picked.
So the band themselves made the decision on the final line-up?
I was told the final decisions were down to them. My uncle knew the drum tutor who was there to teach me and the other kid auditioning, but I don’t think that was an influence as the final decision was down to Roger. They didn’t know my uncle was a professional drummer until after the final audition.
What can you tell us about the process of recording the video?
The two days of filming were absolutely great. There was one day with just us kids and another with Queen.
It was filmed at Elstree Studios, but as I lived outside of London a hotel for my mum and me was provided. Ross was staying at the same hotel with his dad so we spent the evenings together too.
We were very well looked after and it was like being a celebrity for a couple of days. My mum stayed with me the whole time and I think she really enjoyed the experience. My dad turned up on one of the days too, but I think he might have been more interested in Roger’s girlfriend at the time from the Flake advert!
What do you recall about interaction with Roger, Brian, Freddie and John?
We spent most of the second day filming the scenes with Queen as shown in the video and it was great that they walked out from behind my drumkit.
All the band were really nice to us, but as a kid, you don’t realise you’re talking to some of the biggest rockstars in the world. There was a little bit of naivety there because of our age - I think we all were caught up in the excitement of performing and maybe being so young meant we weren’t starstruck like we would have been if we’d been older. We just didn’t appreciate how big a thing it was.
I can’t really remember too much about actual conversations with the band but I do know they all watched us kids perform the track from start to finish and joked that we should do a tour for them. Roger sat a couple of chairs away from me and my mum chatted to him and John at different times during the day. And I remember her talking to Brian for ages at the bottom of a staircase backstage at Elstree while we kids were wandering about exploring.
Freddie wasn’t around as much as the rest of the band and he was sitting in a room having his make-up done. They’d already done autographs for us but I went back in again to ask him to sign a cassette and although I can’t remember exactly what he said, he petulantly joked about me pestering him… but of course was happy to sign it for me! If I was the age I am now when I’d met him then I would want a good old chat rather than pestering him for autographs…
What was your reaction and that of your friends and family to the finished video?
The video came out very soon after we’d shot it. I was so pleased with it and when I went back to school I was welcomed like a celebrity! Everyone I knew thought it was great and I did enjoy the attention… I even had a few autograph requests!
My school was very supportive and I only had a few days out.
Roger said it was Freddie that made the quip about you touring instead of them and Brian added that he was shocked and stunned at how good you all were. Quite the compliments?
It really did go very well and the end product was great. I still think what an amazing concept for a video to complement a brilliant song.
Speaking of the track itself, did you know that Brian has referenced The Miracle as his favourite Queen song if pushed?
That’s interesting, I didn’t know that.
Did you have any contact with members of Queen following the sessions?
I had a birthday card from Roger on my 40th a few years back after a friend made contact with the Queen team. He had it framed for me and I was thrilled.
Was there any misbehaviour from the younger band on set?!
We were all running around and I remember James Currie (who played John Deacon) sitting on stage and kicking one of the opaque plastic boxes covering the lights… he broke it and it was just the sort of thing kids do when messing about! We had assistants running around looking after us and we were on a high for those couple of days.
Did you stay in contact with any of your bandmates?
I stayed in touch with Ross for a couple of months after the video by phone, but nothing since. I did try and make contact with him in recent years but got no reply - perhaps he’s too famous!
About three years ago, I exchanged messages through Instagram with Paul Howard who played Brian. I think he’d messaged Brian and received a reply (I tried the same with Roger but with no response!).
A few years ago, Rudi Dolezal [co-director of the Miracle video] posted a picture of me and him on Instagram from the video shoot, so I messaged him and he came back asking if it was really me. When I sent him my number, he phoned from the States for a chat and told me he was writing a book and would give me a mention. He also talked about setting up a reunion sometime in the future but I don’t know realistically if that will ever happen…
Do you still ever drop into conversations these days that you played with Queen?
Yeah, all the time! I still show the video to anyone who hasn’t seen it, especially if someone lets on that they are a Queen fan. Whenever it comes up in conversation, I immediately put it on and my kids are like ‘not again’! They are grown up now and cringe a bit, but it is my claim to fame! They think it makes me big-headed… but I’ll be showing this interview to them all!
In addition to the autographs you mentioned, do you have any other keepsakes from the sessions?
I remember asking if I could keep the mini kit but getting told it would be sold for charity.
All the drumsticks used were personalised Roger Taylor sticks and I got three sets of those which I’ve kept. They sent me a gold disc which I wasn’t expecting and it's up on the wall at my mum’s house.
I was also given a VHS of outtakes that were specific to my part (I assume the other boys got an equivalent video). For example, it showed quite a few different takes of me hitting the beer on the drums. It’s a real shame because the video disappeared when my parents separated - my dad took it to make a copy and never got it back. I asked Rudi if he had a copy but he didn’t and I asked Phil Symes [PR for the band] too - he did look because they were going through the archives for the Miracle box set, but no one seems to have a copy unfortunately.
I need to buy that box set by the way; I was hoping to get it last Christmas but I didn’t!
Only two years after the release of The Miracle single, it must have been a real shock to hear of Freddie’s passing?
I was gutted as in those years I’d got to know a lot more about Queen and their music.
In 1992 when tickets sold out straight away for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, my mum contacted the Queen office and they arranged for two tickets for us to buy. I was 12 by then and that’s really how I got into Queen’s music. I’ve still got the T-shirt and red banners. And that concert had a knock-on effect and was a big influence on what music I liked growing up because I went on to see Guns & Roses, Elton John, George Michael and others in their own right.
Did your appreciation of Queen’s music continue into your adulthood?
I love Queen’s music, especially things like One Vision. Live at Wembley is probably the album I’ve listened to the most.
I was lucky enough to see them with Adam Lambert last year at The O2 and I really enjoyed it. We stood right at the back and the feel of the whole show was amazing. I was wishing there was a little set next to Roger so I could join in!
I saw the Bohemian Rhapsody movie at the cinema and thought the way they did it was brilliant. When it came out I was contacted by a researcher from the BBC’s One Show because they wanted to do a piece on it, but Ross McCall wasn’t available so it got canned!
In the years following The Miracle, did you pursue a career in acting or music?
Not really - I played drums in one or two bands. I was signed by an agent and did a couple of extra parts in commercials and an audition for a Bruce Dickinson video where he also wanted some kids involved.
I ended up doing an apprenticeship as an electrician and then got into the engineering side of things. Now I’m involved in project engineering and management in railway projects – I have my own business and currently do consulting work for Transport for London.
I’ve been happily married for 24 years, with three children aged 18, 22, and 25 and I’ve just become a grandad too!
Many fans reading this may well have given their right arms to have performed with Queen! How would you summarise the experience?
It was one of the greatest experiences ever and I loved every minute of it. Being as young as I was meant I didn’t really know what an opportunity it was at the time but having grown up with Queen being part of my childhood memories has been amazing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and memories they gave me and I continue to enjoy their music like so many millions of people.
This article is © Dave Fordham and the Official International Queen Fan Club and is not to be reproduced without permission. Join the fan club at www.queenworld.com.