08-24-1974 - Music Star
Is it easy to be happy when you're speeding to success? We asked John Deacon to tell us about the things that have made him happy in the past...
"The LATEST was the American tour as a whole, not so much because it was important professionally as that it was just a great experience. Never having been to America before it was quite an eye opener. I supposed the biggest date, before we had to quit because of Brian's illness, was the week we did in New York. Somehow, though, because it was a theatre it didn't quite have the same atmosphere as some of the other gigs, not so much fun.
"I was surprised that we were known over there but there were usually a few people down the front with Queen tee shirts. Mostly I think we're known because of air-play on the radio stations. I enjoyed the radio out there so much that I bought a cassette recorder which tapes stuff straight off the radio and plays it back in stereo. I recorded a lot while I was out there so I can listen to it in this country. There's a player in the car, too. I do go for that sort of electrical gadget.
"Before that, the most important thing to me was the Queen II album going into the charts -- especially satisfying that, since the first one didn't do so well. It's nice to see some recognition for your work though I don't usually worry too much. Roger tends to worry more about what's happening on that side.
"On tour in Britain the biggest date was obviously the Rainbow, but the most fun gig was the last. It was a tiny club in Birmingham we'd had to cancel earlier. We went back and because it was the last we were very relaxed, all had a couple of drinks and enjoyed ourselves. We even got half the road crew to streak across the stage -- Roger bet them a bottle of champagne each that they wouldn't do it, and they did.
"Personally, one of the most important times for me was when I left home to go to college in London. It wasn't so much the event itself, but it steered me in the musical direction, I met the other lads and got more professional, having played at home in little amateur groups.
"First of all I met Roger and Brian in a disco. I'd heard they were looking for a bass guitarist so I chatted to them -- they'd actually been auditioning for a few weeks before but couldn't find anybody who seemed to fit. Freddie was already on the scene by then, so my joining was the final forming of Queen as we are now.
"It was quite a moment when we decided to turn professional. We'd been playing in our spare time but really I didn't think, myself, that we'd ever do it even though we'd jokingly talked about it. Then we were lucky enough to be able to make a demo tape at a proper studio, and when we took it round the record companies they were interested enough to give us confidence, so we gave it a go.
"Possibly Freddie and Roger were the keenest. Brian was a big career man deeply into studying physics and astronomy and had reservations about it, but the other two are the born stars. Freddie's probably the one who's given us the most push to get on, and is the most insistent with people like managers and so on.
"I remember my first musical instrument -- a little plastic Tommy Steele guitar when I must've been about seven. I had it around a lot but I didn't really play it much, nothing seemed to click, but a few years later some friends up the road started to practice on two based-up guitars. I only went along because I had a tape recorder which they could use as an amplifier but after a few weeks I got interested enough to get my mum to buy me a Spanish guitar and that's when it really started properly.
"We went on from school dates to playing little gigs, trolling round in a battered old van. I enjoyed that period a lot.
"Now, as much spare time as I can find I spend tinkering with anything mechanical -- cars, radios, that sort of thing. I do enjoy being able to mend my car myself, I thought it was going to be difficult but it's really quite easy, all nuts and bolts.
"It's my first car -- I could never afford one until eighteen months ago. It's only a Mini but it gets me about London and we're away often enough it's not worth getting anything bigger. I got it from a student -- I don't like buying things from shops, I'd rather hunt around. I only paid forty quid for it!
"We had one great time a few years back when we all went down to Cornwall for a holiday. We were still in college and used to stick all the equipment into one van and sail off. Roger, who comes from there, said he'd get us some gigs locally so we took a cottage for a fortnight and stayed together. It was good because it wasn't long after I joined and we got to know each other really well and it settled us as a group. Roger did manage to find us half a dozen or so gigs as well, so we broke even.
"What I really look forward to most is a tour of our own. When we left the American tour it was going very well. We were the second band -- supporting Mott again -- but hopefully we can go back and headline a small tour of our own next time. It was great to go, and we were getting seen because people were mostly coming to see Mott, but it's not the same as topping the bill. Still, It's up to us to convert them to liking us as well, isn't it?"
Most of 'em do, John -- most of'em do!