by Judith Davis, 1981 (extract)
QUEEN TIMES FOUR
(p.73) John Deacon is the quiet, steady, dependable member of Queen. Although he is the youngest of the four, he is in many ways the most settled and mature. Perhaps he is also the one most capable of being objective about the group and its success.
John was born in 1951, in Leicester, a manufacturing city in the Midlands. He was also a good student; and it was no surprise that he ended up at London University, where he took a degree in electronics and graduated with first-class honors. Initially, his interest in music seemed certain to be just a hobby. But when he met the other three members of the band, through friends in London, he was hooked. He quickly agreed to join Queen as its bass player.
John says, "I was possibly the one person in the group who could look at it from the outside, because I came in as the fourth person in the band. I knew there was something there, but I wasn't so convinced of it. Til possibly the Sheer Heart Attack album. Now I've got more confidence in the group than ever before."
John has a very good head for business, and one of the ways he has been a big help to the group is to handle many of their financial affairs ever since they began to manage themselves. Brian May says of him with respect, "John's got a good business mind. He also has a complete sense and understanding of rhythm and how rock and business work together." For example, John is the one who decided that it made sense for the band to continue spending the large sums it does on its tours. He explains, "We tour for our own satisfaction and also to increase the status of the group. It's a long-term thing rather than a short-term tour. The important thing is that we're not in it for any short-term breaks. It's all or nothing."
It's John's belief that the reason for Queen's success is "excellent quality material, well performed and well produced." Like all the members of the group, he resents the implication that Queen is a phenomenon of media hype, or the cold-blooded manipulation of current popular trends. He defends the group's high standard of professionalism and their genuine commitment to the music they play.
Despite the glare of the limelight, John Deacon has somehow managed to remain relatively unknown when he is off the stage. He says himself, "I'm not that fond of interviews"; and Julie Webb, an English journalist who has written about the group frequently, characterizes Deacon as "one of those clever buggers who manages to avoid getting quoted at all costs." Like all the other Queens, he has recently bought himself a comfortable house, where he lives with his family. He loves to putter around with the latest recording gadgets (remember, he has a degree in electronics), and he has installed a home recording studio full of the latest, most up-to-date equipment, some of which he has adapted himself for his own particular needs. His favorite hobby apart from music is photography, and he has compiled albums of striking pictures he's shot when the band was on tour all over the world. He also likes to read science fiction and tinker with cars. His lifestyle has little of the star about it. His clothes are low key, and he always seems to manage to blend into the background to avoid attracting attention.
John takes much satisfaction in the band's current success, but he also occasionally likes to be involved with a musical venture that is not directly connected to Queen. Perhaps because of his background, he takes a great interest in the technical side of recording. Lately he has started to produce some sessions with Chris Rea.
John's prescription for Queen's future? "I guess you can say control has a lot to do with our continued success."
his other words
(p.14) "We only just made it to our cars in time, rattles and bruised. We had only gone a few hundred yards when the driver stopped for petrol. Within seconds the car was surrounded by girls battering on the windows and roof. The driver just had no idea what was going on. They'd never had to deal with anything like that before." (in Argentina, spring of 1981)
(p.17)"Unbelievable!" (his short answer to the question, "how do you react to all this success?")
(p.60)"We all write songs for the band, so each musician brings his own individual influences and tastes to what we do."
(p.62)"Freddie played it for us in the studio; and Roger and Brian and I played along with it and just came up with that feel. It was very easy to do." (about "Crazy Little Thin Called Love")
(p.63)"I listened to a lot of soul music when I was in school, and I've always been interested in that sort of music. I'd been wanting to do a track like 'Another One Bites the Dust' for awhile, but originally all I had was that line and the bass riff. Gradually, I filled it in, and the band added ideas. But I wanted the kind of sound we got, with the heavy bass. I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did. The song got picked up off our album, and some of the black radio stations in the U.S. started playing it, which we've never ever had before." (about "Another One Bites the Dust")