The whole world is talking about Queen all over again. After the spectacular success of Bohemian Rhapsody at the global box office ($900million and counting), the band is not only topping film and music charts, it is about to head out on a major tour. To mark the concerts, the band and its new frontman Adam Lambert gave in-depth interviews for a moving documentary, The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story. Roger Taylor revealed the terrible events which prompted John Deacon to leave the band. Recent photos reveal the man who left fame and the rock and roll life far behind him.
Deacon did not appear in public to support the release of Bohemian Rhapsody.
In fact, Taylor has said they haven’t actually had any direct contact for over ten years: “I haven’t heard a squeak from John, not a single guttural grunt.”
All Queen royalties are split four ways between the three surviving members and Freddie Mercury’s beneficiaries, and Brian May confirms they keep Deacon informed of any plans or developments but take his silence as acquiescence: “It’s his choice. He doesn’t contact us. John was quite delicate all along.”
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In the new documentary, Taylor says the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991 was the catalyst for Deacon retiring: “John freaked out and decided he really couldn’t deal with being in the music business anymore, It was an odd period. Really the band was over.”
Deacon had struggled before then when the band was on hold in 1985 as they pursued solo projects: “I went spare, really, because we were doing so little. I got really bored and quite depressed.”
Friends and colleagues also attested to his close bond with Mercury, who shielded the shy bassist from some of the pressures of fame. The pair were also united by their love of funk, soul and dance music and fought to move the band in that direction in the mid-1980s with Deacon famously writing Another One Bites The Dust.
Queen fan club president Jacky Smith said: “John just gave up after Freddie died. He and Freddie were opposites really, because John is so shy and he was the youngest in the band. Freddie took him under his wing and they were very close for all those years. Freddie drew the attention away, and without Freddie there, I don’t think John could face any of it.”
When rare shots of him emerged last year, neighbours told the press Deacon was rarely seen.
Brian May and Roger Taylor have embraced the later incarnations of the band, culminating on the collaboration with Adam Lambert, but admitted losing Freddie was hard to deal with.
May said: “I missed Freddie dreadfully. I knew it was coming but it was still awful.”
Taylor added: “After Freddie died, it took me year to even start to want to think about doing things.”
May said Deacon, though, found it impossible: “I think losing Freddie was very hard for him as well. He found that incredibly hard to process, to the point where actually playing with us made it more difficult.”
Deacon’s college friend, Robert Ahwai said; “Maybe he thought, ‘Freddie was the band, so what’s the point? He suffered from depression after Freddie died and I am not sure he has ever come out of it.'”
After Freddie died, Deacon appeared three times on stage with the band and played on the final recording, No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young), from the 1997 Queen Rocks album.
The same year he retired completely from music, saying; “There is no point carrying on. It is impossible to replace Freddie.”
These days he is estimated to be worth up to £130million but still lives with his wife, Veronica Tetzlaff, in the same house in Putney he bought with his very first royalties from the band and where he raised his six children.