John Deacon: Wikis

  
  

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John Deacon

Deacon in 1979.
Background information
Birth name John Richard Deacon
Born 19 August 1951 (1951-08-19) (age 58)
Oadby, Leicestershire, England
Genres Rock, Jazz
Occupations Musician, songwriter, electrician
Instruments Bass, double bass, guitar, keyboards, synthesiser, piano, percussion.
Years active 1971 – 1997
Associated acts Queen
Notable instruments
Fender Precision Bass
Music Man StingRay

John Richard Deacon (born 19 August 1951) is a retired English musician, best known as the bass guitarist for the rock band Queen. Of the four members of the band, he was the last to join and also the youngest, being only 19 years old when he joined. Deacon wrote a number of Queen's hit singles, including "You're My Best Friend", "Spread Your Wings", "Back Chat", "I Want to Break Free" and the band's biggest selling single in the United States, "Another One Bites the Dust", as well as a number of album tracks. He also played rhythm and acoustic guitars on several albums as well as occasional keyboards, synthesizer and programming. He frequently provided backing vocals during live shows.

Following The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, Deacon's sole performance with Queen was a one-off rendition of "The Show Must Go On" in 1997 with Mercury's friend Elton John (who had originally sung the track with the band at Mercury's tribute). He contributed to the final Queen song, "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)" – released that year on the Queen Rocks compilation – after which he retired from the music industry. He chose not to participate with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor in the Queen + Paul Rodgers collaboration, but did give them his support. Deacon was also absent from Queen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Contents

Biography

Deacon grew up in Oadby, Leicestershire with father Arthur, mother Lilian and younger sister Julie. His father worked for the Norwich Union insurance company. But in 1962 when Deacon was 11, his father died of a heart attack. He was known to friends as 'Deaks' and attended Linden Junior School in Leicester, and Gartree High School and Beauchamp Grammar School in Oadby and achieved 8 GCE O level and 3 A level passes, all at grade A. It was in Leicester that he formed his first band, The Opposition, in 1965 at the age of fourteen. He played a rhythm guitar bought with money borrowed from one of the other band members. He became the bassist after the original bassist was fired for not being of the same quality as the rest of the band. As well as a dedicated musician Deacon also was the band's archivist, taking clippings from newspapers of even the advertisements featuring The Opposition. After being in the band for four years, Deacon played his final concert with the band (then called The Art) in August 1969. He left as he had been accepted to study at Chelsea College.

Although he left his bass and amplifier at home in Oadby, Leicestershire after less than a year in London where he went on to achieve a First Class Honours Degree in electronics at Chelsea College, now part of King's College London, he decided he wanted to join a band. By this time Queen had already been formed by Brian May, Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, and Deacon even saw them in October 1970. In early 1971 he was introduced to Taylor and May by a friend at a disco who told him that they were in a band that had just lost its bassist. A couple of days later he auditioned in a lecture room at Imperial College London and became the last member of Queen to join the band. Since the band's last bassist drew attention away from Mercury, Deacon was selected for his musical talent, his quiet demeanour and his electrical skills. A persistent legend claims Deacon was the seventh bassist auditioned.

On Queen's first album he was credited as "Deacon John".[1] Not long after its release, he requested that he be referred to by his proper name.

His first writing credit did not come until Queen's third album, Sheer Heart Attack. The song "Stone Cold Crazy" was his first writing credit but the song was also credited to the other three members of the band. The first song Deacon wrote on his own was the song "Misfire" from the same album, a Caribbean-themed song that garnered little attention. He would achieve much greater success with his second song, "You're My Best Friend", which went on to be an international hit.

He was the 'quiet' member of the band, and the others said that he was in charge of most of the finances. His last public appearance with the band was at an AIDS Charity event in 1997, and his last direct involvement with Queen was with the recording of "No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)".

He lives in Putney in South West London with his wife Veronica Tetzlaff. Married since 18 January 1975, she was already 2 months pregnant with their first child when they got married.[2] The two have six children: Robert (July 18, 1975), Michael (February 3, 1978), Laura (June 25, 1979), Joshua (December 13, 1983), Luke (December 5, 1992) and Cameron (November 7, 1993).

According to The Sunday Times Rich List he is worth £50 million as of 2009.[3]

As a trained electronics engineer, he often used to build equipment for the band. His most famous creation is the "Deacy Amp", used by Deacon and Brian May.

Controversy over Queen

Deacon has reportedly spoken out about the May/Taylor/Robbie Williams cover of "We Are the Champions", recorded for A Knight's Tale. In an interview with The Sun about the collaboration he said, "It is one of the greatest songs ever written but I think they've ruined it." "I don't want to be nasty but let's just say Robbie Williams is no Freddie Mercury. Freddie can never be replaced – and certainly not by him."[4]

As a performer

Let's just say that the product of drummer Roger Meddows-Taylor and bassist Deacon John[1] is explosive, a colossal sonic volcano whose eruption maketh the earth tremble. — Gordon Fletcher - Rolling Stone 149[5]

Deacon played guitar in addition to bass, taking over rhythm parts in many albums, as well as several acoustic performances. Some of the guitar work on Hot Space (the clean Fender Telecaster single-coil sound) is the work of Deacon. He would occasionally play synthesizers on his own compositions and often composed at the piano, playing an electric one on his top ten hit "You're My Best Friend". He can also be seen playing the grand piano in the video to "Spread Your Wings", although on the actual recording the piano was played by Mercury.

Highlights

Mostly, Deacon's compositions varied from pop rock to funk. He has been responsible for some of Queen's largest hits such as: "You're My Best Friend" (from A Night at the Opera), "Another One Bites the Dust" (from The Game) and "I Want to Break Free" (from The Works). To this day "You're My Best Friend" and "Another One Bites the Dust" are two of the most played songs on radio.[citation needed] He also co wrote "Friends Will Be Friends" with Mercury and co wrote the chords for "The Miracle" with Mercury. Both went on the Greatest Hits 2 album. He also wrote two other popular songs ("Spread Your Wings" and "Back Chat") and created the riff for "Under Pressure".

As a bass guitarist, his most notable works include "Another One Bites the Dust", "Father to Son", "Liar", "Dragon Attack", "Brighton Rock", "The March of the Black Queen", "You're My Best Friend", "The Millionaire Waltz", "We Are the Champions", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Body Language" and "Under Pressure." As a guitar player, he did some rhythm-playing in songs like "Staying Power" (both live and in the studio) and "Back Chat", as well as lead parts in "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Misfire" and Spanish acoustic fills in "Who Needs You". He also played double bass, notably on Brian May's 1975 song "'39". May had asked him to play upright bass as a joke but a couple of days later he found Deacon in the studio with the instrument, and he had already learned to play it.[6]

Deacon's contributions in keyboards were mostly just background chords; his most notable work is in his composition "You're My Best Friend", which was the first song he wrote on the electric piano. Deacon also played triangle in live versions of "Killer Queen" (it hung off his microphone) and some piano (notably on "Another One Bites the Dust"). Deacon can also be seen playing the drums on the video for "One Vision".This is perhaps a visual trick ,although he did play drums on certain tracks on "Hot Space".

Style

Deacon's style was one that was rarely seen in rock bands during the 1970s. Rather than just serving a background role and playing root notes, he used the bass guitar as a lead instrument as well as a rhythm instrument. Some of his lines on the bass are very intricate and difficult to play, such as "The Millionaire Waltz," "I'm Going Slightly Mad," and "You're My Best Friend", granting his technique an affinity with Motown's lead style bass lines. Some of Queen's songs, such as "Dragon Attack", "Another One Bites the Dust", "Body Language" and "A Kind of Magic", feature the bass as the main instrument. When performing with Queen, Deacon delivered a highly technical style, with numerous runs, walking bass lines and tight quick note changes. Deacon mainly used his fingers, though sometimes he did use a pick. Two of his trademarks are the licking of his fingers when playing and the sticking of two picks under the Pick guard. He generally didn't play with a floating thumb and occasionally played with his thumb itself. His bass lines are notable on "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Liar", "Brighton Rock", "Under Pressure", "'39", "You're My Best Friend", "I Want to Break Free" and "One Year of Love" to name but a few.

Another trademark of Deacon's playing are his bass runs. In a 1975 review of Sheer Heart Attack, the reviewer wrote: "Only at the end would a new initiate to Queen recognize John Deacon's unmistakable trademark: the bass runs under the fade are a fast and facile as any to be heard. The least well known musician in Queen is one of his rock generation's most able."[7]

Singer

Deacon is the only member of Queen never to sing any lead vocals on any of their tracks. He even admitted in interviews that he was incapable of competing with the three strong vocalists in the group. Deacon is not credited as a vocalist on any Queen album.

In live shows, Deacon didn't receive his own microphone until the band's first headlining tour in support of their "Sheer Heart Attack" album. Despite this promising development, the main purpose of this was to play one note on the triangle in "Killer Queen." Before this, he had sung backing vocals during "Liar" into Mercury's microphone. There have been occasions where his microphone was turned up to a point where his voice can be heard, such as at Earls Court in 1977, where his voice was clearly heard on "Somebody to Love" and "In The Lap of the Gods...Revisited."

Despite this, Deacon is almost always shown to be singing in Queen's music videos, such as "Bohemian Rhapsody," "You're My Best Friend," "Somebody To Love," "Tie Your Mother Down" and "Don't Stop Me Now," among others.

Gear

John Deacon's first bass was an Eko; he later got a Rickenbacker 4001, which is what he used for his audition for Queen, the very first concerts and the recording sessions at De Lane Lea in 1971. When the band began recording at Trident, he had problems with it and acquired a Fender Precision 1967 model with the silver 1966 transition logo and sunburst finish, which became his main instrument for the last concerts in 1972 and all the 1973-1975 tours. As a back-up he had another one of the same model, but with the black 1969 transition logo. Before the beginning of the 'Night At The Opera' sessions he stripped the paint off both, left them with a natural finish, and switched them; from then on the black logo one would be his main guitar for most tours and recordings.

In early 1977, Deacon got two new basses: a Fender Precision Fretless, which he used for "'39" (emulating the double bass he used in the original recording) and "My Melancholy Blues" on stage and a Music Man Stingray which he used as main for the "Day At The Races" tour and some videos. From the 'News of the World' tour up until 'The Works' tour in 1985, the Musicman would remain for just specific numbers ("Sheer Heart Attack", "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Back Chat"), and used sometimes in the studio as well. The fretless type kept being used for "'39" and "My Melancholy Blues" live until the end of the decade.

During late 1977, at the beginnings of "News of the World" tour in the States, he tried another Fender P-Bass, a 1954 Masterbuilt model, but eventually gave it up and returned to the black logo '67 model. The old Fender kept being used occasionally as back-up, in the recordings of "Coming Soon" (1979) and in the video of "Back Chat" (1982).

In 1980, Kramer made him a custom bass, which he used as back-up for some tours and in videos (e.g. "Play the Game", "Las Palabras De Amor"). Next year, Fender gave him a special prototype model which Deacon used for recording "Under Pressure" for the "Hot Space" album and performing it during the 1981-1985 period.

A new Fender P-Bass came to his hands: a red Elite 1, which he used for mimed performances, some videos and recordings (e.g. "One Vision"), the entire Knebworth gig and "Radio Ga Ga" at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. In 1986, John Deacon got a Warwick Buzzard, used for some videos and mimed performances, but not on recordings. Before the Magic Tour, he refurbished and spray-painted his Precision bass black and continued using it as main instrument for several gigs (e.g. The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)").

For other instruments, John Deacon mostly used Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars, his main was a custom Tele which he used on stage. In the recordings of "Misfire" he demonstrated he too could play guitar harmonies. For acoustic he mostly used Martin D-18 and Ovation. The piano he played in "Another One Bites the Dust" was a Bösendorfer and in "You're My Best Friend" a Hohner Pianet N often confused with Wurlitzer (though Brian May has stated that it was a Fender Rhodes). For synths, he used Oberheim OB-X, Roland Jupiter 8 and Yamaha DX7.

Leaving Queen

After playing live with Queen twice more (at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness on 20 April 1992, and in Paris on 17 January 1997, performing only "The Show Must Go On" with Elton John on lead vocals), he made the decision to retire from music, re-appearing only briefly by joining his ex-band mates in October 1997 for the recording of the final Queen song "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)", included in the Queen Rocks album released a month later. He chose not to be present at Queen's induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, or join in the collaboration with Paul Rodgers. On the Queen + Paul Rodgers collaboration album The Cosmos Rocks which featured new material from the trio, Deacon was listed in the Thanks Notes on the CD.

Discography

Queen songs John Deacon wrote that were released as singles:

Selected Queen album tracks:

Selected solo efforts:

  • Jive Junior And Man Friday: "Picking Up Sounds" (7" single, 1983)
  • The Immortals: "No Turning Back" (single from Biggles: Adventures in Time soundtrack) (1986)

Collaborations

  • 1975 All four members of Queen helped produce a session with the soul band Trax. Nothing was ever released.
  • 1983 "Picking Up Sounds" by Man Friday and Jive Junior - co-wrote, produced and played bass guitar on this single.
  • 1984 "It's An Illusion" by Roger Taylor - bass guitar on this track from the album Strange Frontier.
  • 1984 "I Cry For You" by Roger Taylor - bass guitar on the remixed version of this song, on the single Strange Frontier.
  • 1985 "Too Young" by Elton John - bass guitar on this song from the LP Ice On Fire.
  • 1985 Strawberry Switchblade - produced self-titled first album.
  • 1986 "Angeline" by Elton John - bass guitar on this song from the LP Leather Jackets.
  • 1986 "This Is Your Time" by Errol Brown - co-wrote and bass guitar on this track, which was never released.
  • 1987 "I Dream Of Christmas" by Anita Dobson - bass guitar on this track from the album Talkin' Of Love.
  • 1988 "Roulette" by Minako Honda - co-wrote this song (in fact "No Turning Back" remake with other lyrics) from the album Cancel. John didn't participate in the Minako Honda recording, although his bandmate May wrote and produced two songs for this album.
  • 1988 "How Can I Go On" by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe - bass guitar on this single from the album Barcelona.
  • 1989 "Who Wants to Live Forever" by Ian & Belinda - bass on this charity record, produced by Brian May, also featuring May and Roger Taylor.
  • 1992 "Nothin' But Blue" by Brian May - plays bass on this track from Back To The Light.
  • 1992 "Somewhere In Time" by Cozy Powell - plays bass on this instrumental version of "Nothin' But Blue" from Cozy Powell's album The Drums Are Back.
  • 1994 "Bushfire" by Steve Gregory - plays bass on this track from the eponymous album.
  • 1997 "That's The Way God Planned It" by SAS Band - plays bass on this track from their début (and only studio) album. Roger Taylor sings a verse as well on this cover track, originally recorded by Billy Preston.

Quotes about Deacon

  • "When I was five years old my hero was John Deacon, who used to do the most incredible upper-register work and those melodic, tight groove parts." - Richie Edwards[8]
  • "Grossly underrated. His bass parts are like little stories, yet he never gets in anyone's way. With all the guitars and vocals going on, he finds the spaces and plays basically what he wants. He's loose, fluid, and quite busy at times, but I can't find one song where he stepped on the vocal or guitar parts." - Danny Miranda[9]

References

  • Mark Hodkinson (2004). The Early Years: Queen. Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-012-2
  • Mark Blake (Editor) (2005). MOJO Classic Queen Special Edition. EMAP Metro Limited.

External links








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