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John's Royal Family

Part Three Of A Jackie Exclusive On Queen - John Deacon.
"Jackie" April 10, '76

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For some reason, the bass player is often the quietest member of a group, and that's certainly true of John Deacon. He's the dark horse of Queen, and by far the most difficult one to get to know.

There's one story about John which the others in the group love to tell people, and which tells us a lot about him. While the group were hard at work in the studio, recording their second album, "Queen II", John suddenly announced that he had to leave for a couple of hours, and slipped out.

The rest of the group carried on working, a bit annoyed at John's sudden departure, and also bursting with curiosity to find out what on earth he was up to! They found out later in the afternoon, when John returned and admitted he'd been sitting his exams!

And a few months later, when "Queen II" was released, John found out that not only he helped the group to make a very successful album, he'd also passed his finals, and now held an honours degree in electrical engineering!

That sums up John's character. There's a lot more going on inside his head than you might at first imagine. To some people, he seems abrupt and rather sarcastic, but once you get to know him better, you realise that this is mostly due to shyness.

"I suppose I am the quietest member of the group," John told me. "I'm the most conservative one, anyway."

And that also shows through in the kind of clothes John wears offstage.

The rest of the group are pretty distinctive. You'd turn round if you passed them in the street, anyway!

But John, you'd probably not even notice! He usually slouches around in an ancient blue zip-up cardigan, and only gives his hair the occasional despairing glance in the dressing-room before going onstage.

John is also the only member of the band who's married, and he's never happier than when he's pottering around the house with his wife, Veronica, and baby son, Robert. Veronica trained to be a teacher, and she and John met while they were at their respective colleges.

Robert is now nine months old, and, according to John, is a wonderfully good baby. And John himself is a very devoted Dad -- as everyone who's seen the two together knows!

"He's already been to one or two of our concerts," said John, "and he seems to love the life backstage. So he's a lot like me in that respect!"

Home for John, Veronica and Robert is a pleasant house in West London.

"Originally I just had a flat in the house," said John, "but now we've taken over the whole house, and I've done some alterations to it myself."

Being an engineer, John loves to tinker about the house. He's always building himself little gadgets, or rebuilding existing ones! And it's a joke within the group that he can't bear to sit in front of the television set without getting up every few minutes to change the channel, adjust the colour or play with the fine tuning.

"As long as John has lots and lots of knobs to twiddle, and buttons to play with, he's happy!" Brian May once told me with a laugh.

Like Roger Taylor, John loves cars -- both fiddling with them and driving them. Last year, they both entered for the Brands Hatch All Stars Race, and to their delight, John was first and Roger second!

"My own car isn't anything like that, though," John told me. "It's an old Rover, which I've had for ages now. It still goes pretty well though -- I hotted up the engine myself!"

John also has a keen eye for details -- although, unlike Freddie and Brian, his interests aren't artistic. He looks after the group's finances, and when they're on tour, he fusses endlessly over their sound system. He also built and devised their monitor system, which is said to be one of the most sophisticated in Europe.

Nowadays, of course, the group have very experienced roadies to look after their equipment, but in the days before they'd made it big, you'd often find John down on his knees wielding a screwdriver if anything went wrong!

But perhaps the most surprising aspect of John's personality is his sense of humour. At first, he seems a rather serious, solemn person, but half- way through a conversation, he'll suddenly burst out laughing at some odd, private joke.

"I suppose my sense of humour is a bit strange," he admitted. "I laugh at things that the others don't find at all funny. All sorts of thing make me laugh -- I love practical jokes for instance, and I like following people round and catching them unawares with a camera!"

But most of all, John's idea of fun is playing with his baby son -- and that sums up his attitude to life. He enjoys being on the road, visiting new towns and playing to new audiences every night. But all the time, he can't wait to get back home -- back to the two people he loves most in the whole world.

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