Noticeably absent from the hullabaloo surrounding the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is one of his Queen bandmates, John Deacon. The band's former bass player has long since retired from the limelight.

While guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor continued to record and tour following Mercury's death in 1991, Deacon called it quits long ago. Queen's publicist Phil Symes recently told the Daily Mail, "He's just living a private life." And as an equal shareholder in the band's enterprises, he can afford to do whatever he wants since he has an estimated net worth of about $135 million.

"It's his choice. He doesn't contact us. John was quite delicate all along," said May. "I haven't heard a squeak from John," Taylor added. "Not a single guttural grunt."

But to some extent that was the plan all along. After auditioning a number of bass players, Queen chose Deacon in part because of his demeanor. "We were so over-the-top, we thought that because he was quiet, he would fit in with us without too much upheaval," Taylor admitted.

"He's very solid and no-nonsense," May said. "He's always got his feet firmly on the ground."

So perhaps it's not quite so surprising that Deacon -- who wrote the Queen hits "Another One Bites the Dust," "Under Pressure" and "You're My Best Friend" -- recoils from fame. He is even scarce among neighbors in Putney, where he continues to live in the same modest house he purchased with his first royalty check. There, he and his wife have quietly raised six children.

Many people in Deacon's life suggest he also suffered from depression that isolated him, especially after Mercury's death. Since then, he's performed only three times. The first was at the 1992 star-studded tribute concert for Mercury. A year later, he and Taylor played to help raise funds for King Edward VII Hospital, while May was on a solo tour.

In 1997, the three surviving members of Queen partnered with Elton John to perform "The Show Must Go On" at the opening of the Bejart Ballet in Paris. That same year, Deacon recorded "No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young)," a new track for the Queen Rocks compilation, and then officially retired. He was not present when the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

"We're not in touch, but John's a sociopath, really, and he's given his blessing to whatever Brian and I might do with the brand," Taylor said. "And we've done rather a lot."



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