Queen: John Deacon and Brian May send message to fans in 1994

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Following Freddie Mercury’s untimely death in November 1991, Queen bassist John Deacon couldn’t see the point of the band carrying on, knowing it was impossible to replace their frontman. The 70-year-old retired from the music industry 25 years ago and lives a quiet life in South-West London, but was still convinced to perform with Brian May and Roger Taylor three more times in the early 1990s. There was the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, a charity concert with the Queen drummer in 1993 and finally the opening of the Béjart Ballet in Paris on January 17, 1997, which he really struggled to get through.

A previous episode of Queen the Greatest below looks back at Queen’s collaboration with French ballet legend Maurice Béjart, who approached the band about a show inspired by the lives of Freddie and dancer Jorge Donn, who both died of AIDS.

Brian remembered: “The first proper public show was due to be in Paris, and we talked about being there and we said we’d like to be there. We thought ‘Oh dear’, because it’s a strange thing for us to do, firstly, we haven’t played for God knows how long. We don’t have a singer. It’s one song and you have to get a whole production for one song, one performance. And then this message came from Elton saying, ‘Let’s play’.”

So at the show’s premiere at the Théâtre de Challot in Paris, Queen performed The Show Must Go On with Elton John on vocals, in what would be Deacon’s final time with the band – a performance he really struggled through.

Roger Taylor shared: “That was John’s last ever performance and I could tell he wasn’t happy because he was sort of chain-smoking and very, very nervous and had been severely traumatised by losing Freddie.”

Brian added: “Deacy, our dear friend John, I think he didn’t arrive at the same places as we did. And John is there, but John is really so desperately uncomfortable with the whole thing.  You can see him kind of his whole body is sort of reacting against it. And at the end of it, he says, ‘I can never do this again. I can’t do this.’ And it was true, that’s the last time he ever played with us, John, in public.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/4JPiexo_WPo

Since retiring, Deacon chose not the attend Queen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. And while Brian and Roger have kept the band alive with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert as singers for live tours, the bassist is still very much a present business partner even though they haven’t seen him in almost 20 years.

Queen will still run things by Deacon to this day. If he doesn’t reply he’s in agreement. However, if they do hear back he’ll have a strong opinion.

Brian previously told Express.co.uk: “He’s very much part of the team, he’s just a quiet part of the team – which in a sense, he always was, to be honest. He’s quiet until that moment that he really speaks up and then you have to listen.”

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