Brian May insists Queen ''ain't a tribute band''.

The 'Bohemian Rhapsody' hitmakers were originally a four-piece band, and although lead singer Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991 and bassist John Deacon retired in 1997, the group's lead guitarist believes they are still the real deal.

He said: ''We ain't a tribute band, that's a no-brainer.''

Roger Taylor, who is Queen's drummer, also issued his thoughts, explaining he has been in the band for his whole life, so still considers it to be the same group even though they have different people on tour with them, including 'American Idol' contestant Adam Lambert who is currently their lead vocalist.

He said: ''We built Queen, we lived and breathed it, it is part of us and we are part of it.''

Even though the iconic rockers' frontman passed away more than two decades ago, the 65-year-old percussionist can sense his spirit when they are performing on stage, and sees their live shows as a celebration of the star's extraordinary talent.

He continued: ''It still feels as if Freddie is with us, because his music is always there, his personality is on stage with us.

''He is part of our mental wallpaper, which can be a little bittersweet. I would say it took five years to get used to the fact that he was gone. But the fact is, he's not here, and we are celebrating and we salute him, and it's not maudlin at all.''

Brian, 67, concluded by saying the similarities between the group's original and current frontman mean they are still recognisable as the slightly camp and comical band they always were.

He told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper: ''Freddie and Adam have a very similar attitude to life; a sense of humour and camp lightness of touch. Queen have a serious side but, really, that little bit of humour is what keeps everybody sane.

Roger added: ''I think he [Freddie] would have approved. And I know he would have liked Adam.''