Queen was comprised of some colorful characters, but the group's quiet and reserved bassist, John Deacon was an exception. Although he would often remain in the background, Deacon proved to be as talented as his bandmates when it came to songwriting, and he penned some of the band's biggest hits. Born on August 19, 1951 in Leicester, England, Deacon began playing the guitar in the early '60s before joining his first band, Opposition, in 1965. The following year, he switched to the bass guitar, and the group changed their name to the New Opposition (and a few years later, the Art). In late 1970, Deacon caught an early gig by Queen at a nearby college, yet left unimpressed. A few months later, he was introduced to Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor, who convinced the bassist to try out for the band, which led to his joining in January 1971. Queen signed a recording contract with EMI shortly thereafter, but it wouldn't be until 1973 that they would release their self-titled debut (on which the bassist is listed as Deacon John). It would take Deacon a few releases before he began to contribute songs to the group, but the wait was worth it, as he subsequently wrote (or co-penned) such Queen classics as "Stone Cold Crazy," "You're My Best Friend" (a worldwide hit), and "Spread Your Wings." Deacon's crowning songwriting achievement would come on Queen's 1980 release, The Game, an album which saw the band experiment with a variety of musical styles and sounds (the first release on which synthesizers were permitted to be used).
Deacon had long wanted to write a song that was in the style of funk/disco, and he more than delivered with "Another One Bites the Dust," an infectious, bass-propelled ditty that went on to become one of the year's biggest crossover hits. He continued to pen songs for Queen ("Need Your Loving Tonight," the U.K. hit "I Want to Break Free," "Friends Will Be Friends," etc.), and also began playing with others. A few of these extracurricular recording sessions resulted in a one-off single, "Picking Up Sounds," recorded by the obscure supergroup Man Friday & Jive Junior (which featured Scott Gorham, Simon Kirke, Martin Chambers, and Mick Ralphs), a pair of Elton John albums (1985's Ice on Fire and 1986's Leather Jackets), plus releases by Anita Dobson, Cozy Powell, and solo albums by all three of his fellow Queen bandmates. In 1986, Deacon was supposedly ready to launch his own side project, the Immortals, but aside from an obscure single, "No Turning Back," nothing was ever heard from the band again. Following Queen leader Freddie Mercury's death in 1991, Deacon kept a low profile (perfectly content with leading the family life), although he did reappear with his fellow surviving bandmates at an all-star tribute to Mercury in 1992. Deacon also supplied bass to a few unfinished tracks that Mercury left behind before his death, which were finished off and issued under the title of Made in Heaven in 1995. Deacon has subsequently retired from the music business entirely, failing to even show up with his Queen bandmates at the 2001 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi