What ever happened to Queen’s John Deacon?: ‘He doesn’t feel able to cope’

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Queen Forever, a second album of completed leftover tracks, gave fans the rare chance to hear retired bassist John Deacon performing with Queen again. He hasn’t worked with the band since 1997, six years after the passing of original frontman Freddie Mercury.

In the interim, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor have gone on to collaborations with Paul Rodgers and then Adam Lambert, criss crossing the globe on huge tours. Studio and touring musicians fill Deacon’s old role. Still, many wonder what ever became of him.

“He’s exercised his right to opt out,” May tells BBC Radio 6. “He’s in approval of what we do, and we have that from him the whole time. He just doesn’t want to be out there.”

John Deacon was more than the bass player for Queen, of course. He also composed the hits “You’re My Best Friend,” “I Want to Break Free” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” as well as a number of deep cuts like 1974’s “Misfire” (from Sheer Heart Attack), 1977’s “Who Needs You” (News of the World), and “My Life Has Been Saved” from 1995’s Made in Heaven, the first of their albums completed by the remaining members of Queen in Mercury’s absence.

Deacon performed as part of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, a year after the singer succumbed to AIDS-related illness, but only appeared with Queen twice more on stage. His last contribution on a new studio release was “No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young),” for the 1997 compilation Queen Rocks. Queen recorded 2008’s similarly named The Cosmos Rocks without Deacon.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Co-founding Queen guitarist Brian May discusses what modern-era replacement frontman Adam Lambert can do that Freddie Mercury couldn’t.]

“He doesn’t feel able to cope with the pressure,” Brian May adds. “I think it’s right, and proper, that he can make that choice. It’s a shame. I mean, we do miss him a lot. But that’s the way he wants it.”

Queen Forever found the group returning to the vaults again to complete leftovers from the Mercury and Deacon era, most notably an unreleased duet featuring Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson. Of particular interest to John Deacon fans is “Let Me In Your Heart Again,” a song culled from the sessions for 1984’s The Works.

“We put a lot of work into this, rescuing and restoring,” May says. “I feel very proud of the tracks. I’m very excited. They sound so fresh. You’re actually hearing the four of us playing together – particularly on ‘Let Me in Your Heart Again.'”


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