Brian May on John Deacon’s Queen exit: “We all found it hard, losing Freddie, but John particularly struggled”

The guitarist says his former bandmate is “still very much part of Queen”, despite his retirement from music in 1997.

Queen performing in 1986

Image: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

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Queen guitar legend Brian May has opened up about former bandmate John Deacon’s exit from the group following the passing of frontman Freddie Mercury.

Deacon, who joined Queen in 1971, contributed to all of the band’s albums. His involvement in the group’s musical activities declined significantly after Mercury’s death in November 1991, and he eventually retired from music completely in 1997.

Speaking in a new interview with The Guardian, May is asked if he had any “inkling” that Deacon would leave Queen for good, and why he thought the reclusive bassist had walked away.

The guitarist replies: “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 [Switzerland] – and one show in Paris. 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.”

May adds that while Deacon left the band more than thirty years ago, he is still, in many ways, “part of Queen”.

“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,” he says. “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.”

In other news, May has spoken about a song he once dedicated to Eric Clapton, saying the blues legend probably “hated” the track. Titled Blues Breaker, the song was released as part of May’s 1983 Star Fleet Project mini album.

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