When we think of the legendary rock band Queen, our minds often conjure images of Freddie Mercury’s electrifying vocals, Brian May’s iconic guitar riffs, and Roger Taylor’s dynamic drumming. Yet, behind the scenes, the unassuming John Deacon, the band’s bassist, contributed significantly to their success. He not only wrote their biggest-selling song but also played a pivotal role in shaping Queen’s sound, infusing it with a groove-oriented, danceable vibe.
John Deacon’s journey with Queen began when he met Roger Taylor and Brian May at a disco—an ironic twist given that he would later pen “Another One Bites the Dust,” one of their most danceable hits. In addition to co-writing classics like “Under Pressure” with the rest of Queen (and David Bowie) and “One Vision” with his bandmates, Deacon wrote several hit songs for the group on his own.
“You’re My Best Friend” (1975)
Featured on Queen’s album “A Night at the Opera,” “You’re My Best Friend” stands as a touching tribute to love and companionship. John Deacon, the band’s often understated yet brilliant bassist, penned this heartfelt song in honor of his wife. Their union in the same year as the album’s release added an extra layer of personal significance to the track. Deacon’s musical genius shines through as he skillfully played the Wurlitzer electric piano, infusing the song with a distinct charm.
Upon its release, “You’re My Best Friend” quickly found a place in the hearts of listeners around the world. It climbed the music charts, securing a spot in the Top 10 in the UK and the Top 20 in the United States. What’s more, its enduring cultural impact continues to resonate, making notable appearances in beloved TV shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. This timeless gem stands as a testament to the enduring power of love and friendship in song.
“I Want to Break Free” (1984)
“I Want to Break Free” is a song that beckons to be heard. Released as part of the album “The Works,” this track stirred both fascination and controversy. At its core, the song expresses a universal longing for freedom, but it’s the accompanying music video that generated a whirlwind of attention.
Taking inspiration from the long-running UK soap opera “Coronation Street,” the band members embarked on a whimsical cross-dressing adventure in the video. It was Roger Taylor’s imaginative brainchild, and it led to unforgettable moments, including Freddie Mercury’s donning of a wig and fake breasts during live performances. However, not all audiences embraced this bold artistic choice, and during a Rio gig, fans’ reactions turned hostile, with beer cans and trash thrown at Mercury.
Despite the controversies it stirred, “I Want to Break Free” remains an anthem of liberation and self-expression. It resonates with audiences to this day, echoing ongoing discussions about the significance of drag performance in the United States. This song serves as a reminder that music has the power to challenge societal norms and inspire conversations about freedom and individuality.
“Another One Bites the Dust” (1980)
Arguably Queen’s most famous song, “Another One Bites the Dust” emerged as the second single from “The Game” album. John Deacon’s inspiration for the disco-infused bassline came from Chic’s “Good Times,” while Brian May’s guitar work was influenced by Nile Rodgers’ iconic “chucking” guitar style. Interestingly, drummer Roger Taylor wasn’t initially on board with the dance track, so he created a drum loop in protest.
Michael Jackson played a pivotal role in convincing Freddie Mercury that the band needed a danceable hit. Deacon’s passion for soul music ultimately gave birth to this funky anthem, featuring lyrics with a mobster theme. The song soared to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for three weeks and became the longest-running Top 10 hit in 1980. It earned an American Music Award and a Grammy nomination, solidifying its place in music history.
“Another One Bites the Dust” has become an enduring sports arena anthem worldwide, joining Queen’s other classics like “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.” Interestingly, it even played a role in the creation of the iconic “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, thanks to a twist of fate involving Sylvester Stallone.