25 Years Ago: John Deacon Plays His Final Queen Show
John Deacon told Queen bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor he could “never do this again” after a single-song show with Elton John in the Ballet for Life on Jan. 17, 1997, at the Paris National Theatre de Chailioton.
They'd agreed to collaborate with choreographer Maurice Bejart to create a ballet piece devoted to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic, just more than six years after the disease took frontman Freddie Mercury. May, Taylor, Deacon and John performed “The Show Must Go On,” which can be seen at bottom.
“We thought, ‘Oh dear,’” May said in the latest episode of Queen The Greatest (video below). “Firstly, we haven’t played for God knows how long. We don’t have a singer. It’s one song and you have to get a whole production for one song. … And then this message came from Elton, saying, ‘Let’s play.”
Taylor added: “And that was John's last-ever performance. And I could tell he wasn’t happy because he was sort of chain-smoking and very, very nervous.… [Deacon had] been severely traumatized by losing Freddie.”
Watch Episode 42 of ‘Queen The Greatest’
May said Deacon “didn’t arrive at the same places as we did. John [was] really so desperately uncomfortable with the whole thing; his whole body [was] sort of reacting against it. And at the end of it he says, ‘I can never do this again. I can’t do this.’ … That’s the last time he ever played with us, John, in public.”
Despite Deacon’s departure, May said the ballet show was “very big” for the band’s future. “It changed the way we felt about the continuing life of Queen music in the world. … I’m very happy, very proud of that moment in time when Queen music and Mozart and Maurice Bejart came together in one place.”
Watch Queen and Elton John Perform ‘The Show Must Go On’
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