“I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF
BRITISH BASS PLAYERS
John Taylor, Stuart Zender, and Chris Wolstenholme,” says Canadian
Olivier Doyon, “but I didn’t know much about John
Deacon’s bass playing until
I started digging into the Queen repertoire for gigging with the Queen Extrava-
ganza.” The keyboardist in Doyon’s ’80s revival
band Karma Kameleons hipped him
to online auditions for the official Queen tribute band directed by drummer
Taylor. Doyon landed the gig and was performing with Taylor and Brian May on
American Idol in a fl ash.
Have you ever met John Deacon?
No. He retired from the music business a long time ago and gave Roger and Brian
his blessing to continue without him.
What discoveries about Deacon’s playing
I was impressed by his versatility, and surprised by his melodicism. He
“You’re My Best Friend,” and his bass line is
melodic throughout the entire
he blends in with the band so well that you don’t hear everything he
listen closely. Another impressive tune that’s worth a close listen
Mercury’s composition “The Millionaire Waltz,”
especially the piano-and-bass
Deacon’s counterpoint complements Freddie’s piano part so
well; it’s a challenging
melodic part to play steadily at that brisk tempo without any drums to lean on.
Do you have any other obscure
The funky bass on “The Invisible Man” is cool because
it’s very precise and
It sounds a lot like a synthesizer, but it’s actually Deacon playing
guitar. It’s probably a Music Man StingRay, which he was
known to use at the time. The part reminds me
of something that Bernard Edwards would have
played with Chic during the disco era, and the
tone is something you’d expect in an ’80s synth
pop tune. It’s nothing like Queen’s rock anthems.
It’s amazing that Deacon could sound so different
and be so funky.
Speaking of funky cool Queen tunes, what do
you know about “Dragon Attack”?
Based on what I’ve heard from Roger and others,
“Dragon Attack” came from a jam and was recorded
on the spot in the studio. Wow! The way Deacon
improvises around the main line when he’s featured
in the middle of the tune, and, well, the contributions from the whole band
demonstrate that they
all knew their stuff really well.
Does Deacon get the credit he
He’s highly underrated. John Deacon doesn’t
necessarily come to mind when you ask people to
name their favorite bass player. He’s a low-profile
guy; he was always in the shadows, but his playing
was as important as any other musician in Queen.
John Deacon is one of the players who brought
the Fender Precision Bass to the forefront in the
’70s—just as James Jamerson did in the
Fender Precision Bass with
Bare Knuckle pickups,
Squier Vintage Modiﬁed
Jazz Bass ’77
Rig ’70s Ampeg SVT,
Ampeg 8x10 cabinet
Strings Elixir (.050–.105)