Why John Deacon decided to retire from Queen and music

John Deacon

The youngest member of Queen, the bassist and songwriter John Deacon was born in Leicester, England back in 1951, starting his musical career at an early age in 1965. He joined his first band called The Opposition in 1965 at the age of 14 but it was in early 1971 that his life started to change when he was invited to join Queen.

Alongside Brian May, Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, the bass player entered Rock and Roll history. With incredible albums released especially in the 70s and 80s, the group became one of the best-selling of all time. They have sold an estimated amount of 250 to 300 million records worldwide.

The journey of the group would change in 1991 when Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991. They would still release the posthumous album “Made In Heaven” in 1995 and the single “No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)” in 1997, but it was in that year that John Deacon decided to retire not only from Queen and music, but also from the public eye.

The bassist always was the quiet member of Queen, he got married in 1975 with Veronica Tetzlaff, who still is his wife to this day, and even on stage he never wanted to appear more than his bandmates. Although he could be seen as the bassist, who kept the rhythm going and held the sound together, Deacon was extremely important for Queen and wrote many of their hits.

Why John Deacon decided to retire from Queen and music

Like everyone in the band, he was a close friend of Freddie Mercury and was really devastated when the vocalist passed away. The loss of his bandmate and dear friend made him significantly reduce his musical activity and even said at the time that there was no future for the band because Freddie was simply irreplaceable.

Mercury’s passing still is the main reason for his decision to retire, because he saw no point in carrying on. Besides that, looking at the personal side of things, he managed to conquer everything a musician could as a member of Queen and also had enough money to not work again anymore. Nowadays he has an estimated net worth of 180 million dollars.

Before retiring from Queen and from the public eye, Deacon played with them three times in the 90s. The first was in the legendary Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley stadium in 1992. That concert had many special guests like Tony Iommi, Axl Rose, Elton John and Roger Daltrey.

The second time was in a charity concert with the drummer Roger Taylor at the Cowdray House in Midhurst in 1993. The last time he performed live was with Queen and Elton John in Paris in 1997, to perform “The Show Must Go On”. In that same year the final Queen song “No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)” was released.

Brian May said that they also lost John Deacon when Freddie Mercury died

Even though he retired from Queen, Deacon is still part of their business decisions and according to Brian May gave his blessing on the making of the Academy Award winner movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But as the guitarist Brian May said in a session of Questions and Answers in 2020, they also lost Deacon when Freddie died.

In an interview with Classic Rock in 2023, Brian May said that Deacon had always been sensitive to stress. So it wasn’t easy for him to cope with many things that happened in their careers, especially the loss of Mercury.

“All I can say is that, historically, John was quite sensitive to stress. We all found it hard, losing Freddie. But I think John particularly struggled. We did do a couple of things together, in 1996: the recording of ‘No One But You’. The song I wrote about Freddie when we were putting up the statue to commemorate him in Montreux– and one show in Paris.”

He continued:

“It was to open the ballet season with an amazing new work by Maurice Béjart, about Mozart and Queen. We played with John on bass, and Elton John sang with us. At that moment, John just looked at us and said, ‘I can’t do this any more’. We knew that he at least needed a break. But as it turned out he never came back.”

“I don’t think that I can go into much more detail. We have to respect the fact that John needs his privacy now. But he’s still part of the machinery of the band. If we have any major decision, business wise, it’s always run past John. It doesn’t mean he talks to us  Generally he doesn’t. But he will communicate in some way. He’s still very much part of Queen,” Brian May said.

The last time Roger Taylor saw Deacon was two decades ago

John Deacon was a member of Queen from 1971 to 1997 but after leaving the group he as May said he decided to cut all the direct communication he had with the other two musicians. The drummer Roger Taylor even revealed in an interview with Express UK back in 2020, that he saw the bass player for the last time in 2004.

“John has sort of consciously excluded himself from the world. He doesn’t like engaging in contact with anybody I think. I think he’s very fragile and we respect that. Although he’s still obviously our sort of business partner in a way. Our silent business partner. He enjoys the financial rewards, but he really doesn’t want anything to do with the music industry anymore. I don’t think he feels he wants to handle it and all the stuff that goes with it. So no, we don’t keep in touch actually.”

“I last saw John, I think… We Will Rock You had opened six months before. I saw him there one night, in the bar, he strolled in. And that’s the last time I saw him. Probably 2004,” Roger Taylor said.

May and Taylor tried to invite Deacon to join the group on stage many times during the past two decades. But he obviously refused the invitation.

The musician lives a normal life and is the father of six children. He was spotted by paparazzi over the past years walking in the streets, going to the grocery store and buying newspapers.

Since he retired he also Deacon never gave an interview. But when spotted by fans he stops and talks with them and gives autographs.

Rafael Polcaro: I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG