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Famous Like Me > Composer > D > John Deacon

Profile of John Deacon on Famous Like Me

Name: John Deacon  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 19th August 1951
Place of Birth: Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
John Deacon, bassist for Queen

John Richard Deacon was the bassist for the rock band Queen, also playing rhythm and acoustic guitars in several of their albums as well as ocassional keyboards. Born 19 August 1951 in Leicester, United Kingdom, he was the youngest member of Queen. He is the author of the hits "Another One Bites The Dust" and "I Want To Break Free", which show that his contribution to Queen was significant.

Deacon is also the only member of Queen never to sing any lead vocals on any of their tracks, even admitting in interviews that he was incapable of competing with the three strong vocalists in the group. Regardless, in music videos and live performances he often lip synched, making it appear that there were four vocalists in the group. He was never credited with vocals on any of Queen's studio or live releases. Some sources anyway (for instance, an interview with former Queen's producer, Roy Thomas Baker) say that Deacon sung backing vocals on a few tracks from the 70's albums (i.e. Liar, Bicycle Race and In The Lap Of The Gods (Revisited)), but was not credited indeed. Also, he usually sung backing vocals live, but only in a few songs. In some official releases (like the "Live At Wembley" CD and DVD), his vocal parts were edited off the final mix.

He first attended Langmoor Junior School before moving to Gartree High School and Beauchamp Grammar School. It was here that he formed his first band, The Opposition in 1965 at the age of fourteen. He played a rhythm guitar bought with money loaned by one of the other band members. He became the bassist after the original bassist was fired for not being of the same quality of 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 (now called The Art) in August 1969. He left as he had been accepted to study electronics at Chelsea College.

Although he left his bass and amplifier at home in Oadby, after less than a year in London, he decided he wanted to join a band. By this time Queen had actually been formed by Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor, and Deacon even saw them once October 1970. Then 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 bassists. A couple of days later he auditioned in a lecture room at Imperial College 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 demeanor and his electrical skills.

During this time he was known as "Deacon John" and credited as such on Queen's first album. Not long after its release he requested that he be referred to by his proper name.

His first song Misfire was on their third album Sheer Heart Attack. It was a nice, but unnoted song. But his second song for the band You're My Best Friend was a world wide 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.

He has made it clear that he endorses the 'Queen' projects put forward by Brian May and Roger Taylor, and was partially involved in the early stages of the preparation for the We Will Rock You musical. But currently, Deacon has retired from the music scene, and even declined to participate in a 2005 Queen reunion tour. According to The Sun, he was not impressed with Robbie Williams's version of We Are the Champions, recorded for A Knight's Tale and with the re-make of We Will Rock You done by Britney Spears, Pink and Beyonce with Brian May and Roger Taylor for a UK Pepsi television commercial in 2004.

He lives in South-west London with his wife Veronica and their five sons and one daughter. John occasionally visits the Queen fan club to keep up to date with the world of Queen but remains an elusive character. He enjoys drinking tea, playing golf, and music wise "likes a bit of everything". According to The Sunday Times Rich List he is worth £50 million in 2004.

As a trained electrical engineer, he often used to jimmy up equipment for the band. His most famous creation is the "Deacy Amp", used by Brian May.


His only solo effort is listed below.

  • The Immortals: No Turning Back (Single from Biggles) (1986)

Songs he wrote that were released as singles:

  • "You're My Best Friend" from A Night At The Opera, written for his wife, Veronica.
  • "Spread Your Wings" from News of the World
  • "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Need Your Loving Tonight" from The Game
  • "Back Chat" from Hot Space
  • "I Want To Break Free" from The Works
  • "Friends Will Be Friends" and "Pain Is So Close To Pleasure" from A Kind of Magic (both cowritten with Freddie Mercury)

Other Queen songs by Deacon:

  • "Misfire" from Sheer Heart Attack
  • "You And I" from "A Day At The Races"
  • "If You Can't Beat Them" and "In Only Seven Days" from Jazz
  • "Execution Of Flash" and "Arboria" from Flash Gordon
  • "Cool Cat" from Hot Space (co-written with Freddie Mercury)
  • "One Year Of Love" from A Kind of Magic
  • "My Life Has Been Saved"
  • "Rain Must Fall" (lyrics by Freddie)


Mostly, Deacon's compositions were light and pop. One of his best is Need Your Loving Tonight, a Beatlesy number from the album The Game (1980). Lyrically he composed masterpieces like Spread Your Wings and In Only Seven Days, both including interesting musical devices as well (jazzy chords, dissonances, etc).

As a bass player his most notable works include Brighton Rock, The March Of The Black Queen, You're My Best Friend, We Are the Champions, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and I'm Going Slightly Mad. As a guitar player, he did some very interesting 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 (in which guitarist Brian May played maracas).

His other main instrument was double bass, which he recorded for 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. John 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 at the electric piano.


John's first bass was an Eko, then he got a Rickenbacker 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 begun recording at Trident he had problems with it and acquired a Fender Precision 1967 model with silver logo and sunburst finish, which became his main instrument for the last concerts in '72 and all the '73-'75 tours. As a back-up he had another one of the same model but black logo. Before the beginning of A Night At The Opera sessions he stripped off the paint of both, left them natural finish, and switched them, from then on the black logo one would be his main for most tours and recordings.

In early 1977 John got two new basses: a Fender Precision Fretless, which he used for '39 on stage (emulating the double bass) and a Musicman Stingray which he used as main for A Day At The Races tour and some videos. From News Of The World tour 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 '77, at the beginnings of News Of The World tour in the States, he tried another Fender P-Bass, a 1954 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 John used for recording Under Pressure 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). In 1986 John got a Warwick Buzzard, used for some videos and mimed performances, but not on recordings. Before Magic Tour he refurbrished and sprayed black his beloved Precision and continued using it as main (e.g. Freddie's Tribute, No One But You).

His last (known) bass acquisition was a Giffin in 1987, used for some guest appearances live, videos and probably some recordings too. As an interesting fact, John smashed his black Precision at the last Queen concert in Knebworth Park after A Kind Of Magic, then smashed his spare (the Elite 1) at the end of Radio Ga Ga and he played We Are the Champions wither with the Special model or with the Musicman.

For other instruments, John 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 Bosendorfer and in You're My Best Friend a Wurlitzer. For synths he used OBX, Jupiter 8 and DX-7.

John's Input in Songs Credited To Queen

Even if John wasn't as involved as his bandmates in the creative process of the last albums, he did have some fundamental input in those years, including:

- Composing both music and lyrics to My Life Has Been Saved

- Starting off the first ideas of The Miracle together with Freddie, and deciding the theme of the song between the two of them

- Composing the totality of Rain Must Fall's music

- Helping Mercury polishing My Baby Does Me

- Making the arrangement of The Invisible Man

- Adding part of the lyrics in Was It All Worth It

- Co-writing with Roger the chord sequence of Show Must Go On

- Reconstructing the structure and form of The Hitman

- Composing (with Taylor) the music of You Don't Fool Me

- Arranging the oboe part of It's A Beautiful Day

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article John Deacon