Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19

John Deacon, bassist of Queen, is considered the Ringo of the band, the quiet, unassuming one that willfully stepped back so the other members could stand in the spotlight. (In fact, that's the exact reason he got the job; the prior bassists the band auditioned were trying too hard to keep up on-stage with Freddie Mercury and Brian May.) But even though he cheerfully accepted the role of The Boring One (and the nickname "Deeks"), Queen would not be the history-making band it was without him.

In the first place, he brought the funk:

"Another One Bites the Dust" is undisputedly Queen's biggest hit, topping nearly every chart it touched. John Deacon wrote the song (inspired by a visit with 70's dance band Chic) and developed the arrangement for the band. Although the rest of Queen was initially cool about the song, an endorsement from Michael Jackson encouraged the band to release it as a single, and it became one of the most irresistable songs ever.

When Queen started, it had a hard rock sound that had extracted the blues influence out of their songs(hence, songs like "Ogre Battle" and "Bohemian Rhapsody.") But all four band members began exploring every musical genre they could, from Tin Pan Alley to opera. The follow-up single to their operatic "Rhapsody" was "You're My Best Friend," which became Deacon's first hit single songwriting credit:

He's written songs for every Queen album since "Sheer Heart Attack"; other songwriting credits to hit the charts include "Back Chat", "I Want to Break
Free", and "One Year of Love".

Pretty much, his music career begins and ends with Queen. John had graduated with honors from Chelsea College with an electronic degree when he joined the band in 1971(another reason Queen chose him; he built and repaired equipment for the band!) After Freddie's death in 1991, John would play some benefit shows and record the remaining songs Freddie had contributed before retiring from music altogether. In the between, he had done studio work with other members' solo projects, but his highest profile solo gig was The Immortals, who recorded one song for a children's movie soundtrack:

No, he put down his sticks and went home to his wife and six kids and songwriting royalties (in 2009, his estimated worth was reported at about £50 million.)

I can't end this post without mentioning his greatest contribution to civilization: his bassline for "Under Pressure". John Deacon playing the opening seven notes to "Under Pressure" are enough to qualify him for the blog. The song resulted from a jam session, an impromptu visit from David Bowie to one of Queen's recording sessions. John credits Bowie with the riff, but Bowie - and the surviving members of Queen - credit John with its creation. Whatever percentage his participation, he helped create an anthem for our civilized world:

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