Forums > Queen - General Discussion > How good a bass player was John ?

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philip storey user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 03:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hello people hope all is well in the land of Queen. Whilst Brian and Roger have often been hailed as great musicians and have inspired others in the rock world. John never seems to get much recognition for his great bass work. In your opinion how good was John and when did he go from plucking the fat strings to using a plectrum ?Would be great to hear your opinions.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 03:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think John was a very good bass player,  not an all time great though.  I don't think he had a distinctive style that sets him apart from other players, like a geddy lee or steve harris.  He was solid though...he gets points for his ability to play different styles.  Wasn't a great live player.  All in all he was good.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 03:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm no friend of "rating" musicians, as there is no good or bad once you have reached a certain level. 
What I always found amazing about John Deacon is his versatility. He could adopt any style and always found the right amount of notes to fill gaps on stage and give any song a great fundament on records. Be it some of Freddie's Vaudeville excursions or Brian's hard rock songs.
It's strange that he did not offer his talent to other musicians very often.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 10:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

mike hunt wrote: "I don't think he had a distinctive style that sets him apart from other players, like a geddy lee or steve harris.
"

John Deacon was at least as unique as them.  Like Roger Taylor, he just wasn't flashy and in-your-face about it.

Deacon's bass lines have been described as little stories, and I couldn't agree more.  His playing on Sail Away Sweet Sister is amongst the most interesting ever in a rock song.  His sense of timing was exquisite, as was his ability to do exactly what was right for the song - nothing more, nothing less.  To me, that's what makes an excellent musician.  Nothing's worse than someone who overplays.

Try covering The Show Must Go On in a band without a bass player, and almost everything will be missing from that first verse.  Deacon was an absolute genius.


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 10:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote: mike hunt wrote: "I don't think he had a distinctive style that sets him apart from other players, like a geddy lee or steve harris.
"

John Deacon was at least as unique as them.  Like Roger Taylor, he just wasn't flashy and in-your-face about it.

Deacon's bass lines have been described as little stories, and I couldn't agree more.  His playing on Sail Away Sweet Sister is amongst the most interesting ever in a rock song.  His sense of timing was exquisite, as was his ability to do exactly what was right for the song - nothing more, nothing less.  To me, that's what makes an excellent musician.  Nothing's worse than someone who overplays.

Try covering The Show Must Go On in a band without a bass player, and almost everything will be missing from that first verse.  Deacon was an absolute genius.
Sounds like every member of queen "Playing for the song, nothing more, Nothing less."  My favorite bass songs are millionare waltz, fairy feller's masterstroke,  As mentioned "sail away sweet sister"  Breakthru....He was a good one for sure....Genius?....Not sure about that one. lol.  We use that word a little too often.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 11:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'd rank John as "genius." You know why? Because he knew EXACTLY HOW to play the bass: He never "overplayed" and he knew what lines fit what songs best. He didn't pull a "Yngwie Malmsteen" and try to cram as many notes into a measure, etc.


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 12:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Just listen to "The Millionaire Waltz" and then you´ll get the answer. John IS a wonderful bass player, musician and songwriter.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 13:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The fairy fellers...

Nuff said.


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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 13:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes, I say he's a genius.  Most rock musicians are half-decent players, some of whom can write great songs.  Deacon could do both, and always with class.  He wrote seldom, but always turned in a great song.  And as a bassist, he was far and beyond most rock players of his time.

Most guys just played octaves and fifths, which is essentially doubling the guitar line, adding little to the song.  Deacon's playing was always central to the final product.  He was a brilliant musician, but probably will never be appreciated as such, because:

a) he was in a band with Freddie Mercury, who got most of the attention
b) see a)


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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 14:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote:"He was a brilliant musician, but probably will never be appreciated as such, because:

a) he was in a band with Freddie Mercury, who got most of the attention
b) see a)"

Could another reason he doesn't get the attention he deserves be because he's such a quiet personality?

Brian, especially in the years following Freddie's death, has been acknowledged as the brilliant guitarist he is, and he's been everywhere, whether it be on American Idol or working on Queen + Paul Rodgers or campaigning for animal rights. Roger has also received the attention he deserves, and he too hasn't been all that quiet.

Ultimately, while Freddie was always the most famous figure in Queen, I think the fact that John is kind of the 'forgotten one' (at least in the eyes of the general public) is due almost as much to his reclusive nature as to Freddie.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 15:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Great, great bassist. And very underrated too.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 17:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You can find a lot of drummers in Roger's class or even better.

You can find a lot of guitarists in Brian's class or slightly better.

You can even find vocalists with the range of Freddie Mercury (but you have to look real hard)

You can compare John Deacon to Geddy Lee and make me laugh pretty hard.  You're still going to have a tough time finding someone as solid and groovy as John.  He didn't need Taurus pedals either. 

Anybody ever try to learn the bass lines to Tom Sawyer?  I just did while writing this thread.  Done.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 22:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

John Deacon had an enormous amount of talent, I believe he was the most talented in the group.

But, what do I know? I'm just a doctor.

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Posted: 22 Apr 10, 23:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I totally agree with you, Doctor.

He was also the gadget man.  If something wasn't working, they'd give it to John to fix or create.

He doesn't have a soapbox, his personal life wasn't always in the press, and if you wore a fur coat to a Seal clubbing party, John probably wouldn't give a damn. 

You didn't have to drive him around everywhere, like Freddie.

He didn't make us stock our CD shelves with half-ass songs calling it a "solo career".

The only thing I have against John are those damn shorts from the Wembley tour.  Any truth to the rumor that Freddie gave John his Wembley paycheck?

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Posted: 23 Apr 10, 00:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Micrówave wrote: You can find a lot of drummers in Roger's class or even better.

You can find a lot of guitarists in Brian's class or slightly better.

You can even find vocalists with the range of Freddie Mercury (but you have to look real hard)

You can compare John Deacon to Geddy Lee and make me laugh pretty hard.  You're still going to have a tough time finding someone as solid and groovy as John.  He didn't need Taurus pedals either. 

Anybody ever try to learn the bass lines to Tom Sawyer?  I just did while writing this thread.  Done.

It's evident you know nothing about Taurus pedals.


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Posted: 23 Apr 10, 00:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Maybe 'you didn't have to drive him around everywhere, like Freddie' for most of his career, but during one year he did have to use the tube.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 23 Apr 10, 00:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sebastian wrote: Maybe 'you didn't have to drive him around everywhere, like Freddie' for most of his career, but during one year he did have to use the tube.

Was it due to a drink driving offence ?

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Posted: 23 Apr 10, 01:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ah, rare John Deacon factoids.  Do tell!!!

And yes, Skip, you are the Taurus Pedal man.  I encourage all Queenzoners to direct those questions to you.  I do, however, have the pedals for my Hammond organ.  So if you have any questions about adding low end when you play a B-3, I'd be able to help you out.  It's really quite easy, but you have to have your drawbars set correctly or your harmonics will get muddy.

I do know that Taurus Pedals had something built it so if you accidentally hit two keys at the same time only one would sound (the lower one).  The Hammonds don't have that... better get it right or don't play it!!!

Steve Hackett was better at 'em than Geddy Lee.

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Posted: 23 Apr 10, 03:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree that John is one of the most under-rated bass players and songwriters of all time.

I sometimes wonder if John considered himself a soul bass player,rather than a rock bass player.He was talented enough to do both ofcourse.

Lets not forget,he wasnt a bad  guitarist as witness Staying Power in the Milton Keyens Bowl gig.


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Posted: 23 Apr 10, 04:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

John's basslines are so recognisable.

2 weeks ago I was walking towards a record store and the door was open. I couldn't hear the music they were playing but I could hear the bassline. And I remember thinking "wow, this sounds so Deaky!" And when I entered the shop they were playing These are the Days.

If you would listen to the basslines of songs like Sweet Lady or YOu're my Best Friend solo one could wonder how this basspart would fit in a song. But when all the instruments are played it makes perfectly sense.

John was an outstanding player, and an outstanding writer. I wonder if he knew...


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