Deon Estus dies aged 65: Wham!’s ‘third member’ and bassist for George Michael passes away… as Andrew Ridgeley leads tributes for ‘lavishly gifted’ musician

Deon Estus – the bassist who played for George Michael and Wham! – has died, aged 65.

A statement on Deon’s Twitter page read: ‘It is with real sadness I post that Deon Estus passed away This Morning.

‘Deon was mostly known as the third member of Wham! Deon was passionate about music and loved interacting with his loyal fans.’

Sad news: Deon Estus – the bassist who played for George Michael and Wham! – has died, aged 65 [pictured in 1990]

It has not been made public how the musician died. 

Deon co-wrote the song Heaven Help Me with George, with his iconic vocals featured on the track, which made the top 5 in 1989 in the US.

Deon also played bass for music legends including Tina Turner, Frank Zappa, George Clinton, Annie Lennox, and Sir Elton John across his career.

Tributes swiftly poured in for the musician, with Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley penning o Twitter: ‘V. sad news today of Deon Estus’ death. A lavishly gifted bass guitarist, a charismatic & impish character & a rock of the WHAM! rhythm section.

‘Third member!’ He is pictured in the 1980s alongside Wham! stars George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley

Recent appearance: Deon performed during Cowboys & Angels: An Evening Celebrating the Life and Music of George Michael on what would have been his 64th birthday at the O2 Academy Brixton in June 2019

A statement on Deon’s Twitter page read: ‘It is with real sadness I post that Deon Estus passed away This Morning. Deon was mostly known as the third member of Wham! Deon was passionate about music and loved interacting with his loyal fans’

‘He lives large in the memory, he radiated warmth, humour & life’s illuminating light, my heartfelt commiserations go out to his family (sic)’

Wham! backing singer Shirlie Kemp tweeted: ‘Shocked to hear the passing of such a lovely man. Spent so many years with Deon touring with Wham. God Bless..RIP @DeonEstus (sic)’

Her husband, Martin Kemp, of Spandau Ballet, added: ‘Farewell my friend. Mr Club Tropicana… His bass playing helped create the sound of the 80s…. A brilliant talent…..RIP Deon.’ 

One of Deon’s most recent appearances was his performance during Cowboys & Angels: An Evening Celebrating the Life and Music of George Michael on what would have been George’s 64th birthday at the O2 Academy Brixton in June 2019.

A sad loss: Tributes poured in from those in the music industry

Musician: Deon co-wrote the song Heaven Help Me with George, with his iconic vocals featured on the track, which made the top 5 in 1989 in the US [pictured with Wham! in 1986 at Wembley Stadium in London] 

Deon started his career in the R&B band Brainstorm as a teenager, and they went on to have a hit with Popcorn. He then turned down the chance to appear on Marvin Gaye’s 1982 album Midnight Love, instead touring with Wham!

Deon released the solo album Spell in 1989, with many of the tracks produced by George.

He continued playing for the Careless Whipser singer until his death in December 2016 aged 53. 

Deon said at the time: ‘I’m still in shock. It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but it helps to talk about it and to think about all those fantastic tours, all those records, all the people he’s helped and all the things he’s done, which is a lot.

‘I was blessed to have known him!’

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