The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Why We Need More John Deacon’s …

Once upon a time, I wrote a post about why we should be like Freddie Mercury in the boardroom.

To be honest, I also wrote about how we should be more like Freddie Mercury fullstop.

I still think that … but I also think there is another member of my favourite band we should embrace.

Not Brian May with his degrees, poodle haircut and home built guitar.

Nor drummer Roger Taylor … with his rock star smile, lifestyle and notches on the bedpost.

No, I mean the bassist … John Deacon.

On first impressions, John is a typical bass player.


Comfortable in the background.

Doing everything to not bring attention to himself.

Yes … I appreciate there are a few exceptions to this rule – Flea, Nikki Sixx, John Entwistle, even Level 42’s thumb slapping maestro, Mark King – but John is not one of them.

I once had him driving behind me in London and he was in a Toyota Yaris.

But behind the introverted persona was someone who was most definitely exceptional.

Not just in terms of writing some of the bands biggest hits – from Another One Bites The Dust to I Want To Break Free.

Nor do I mean in terms of still being married to his first love and having a bunch of kids who all live happily in Putney.

[His son used to have a great Youtube channel but sadly he took it all down a while ago]

No … what I mean by calling him exceptional is that he’s 10000% his own person.

Not in an arrogant rockstar way, but in his own way.

Have a look at this …

I bloody love that photo.

Love it.

Not just because it’s Queen live on stage.

Nor because Freddie is in his magnificent prancing poser phase.

But because despite being on stage, playing at deafening and blinding volume and wattage to tens of thousands of adoring fans, standing behind one of the most flamboyant and iconic rock stars of all time as – at the time of that photo – a member of the biggest band on the planet … John looks like he’s just come from his job working as an insurance salesman at a building society in Norwich.

Put simply, John didn’t give a fuck.

He loved the band – at least the majority of the time – but not enough to change who he was.

Where many would have succumbed to the pressure of being more ‘rock star’, John simply wanted to be more him.

Whatever ‘him’ was on any given day.

And what I love as much is the band didn’t give a fuck about it either.

Despite the other 3 members embracing their rock god characteristics – at least on stage – they accepted John for who he was.

Not that they could have got him to change if they tried.

Because while it has been well documented that John was a fragile soul – suffering from depression and always feeling slightly disconnected given he was the last member to join the band – John was as stubborn as a mule.

Not in terms of not listening to reason, but in terms of knowing who he was and what he believed.

At a time where the word ‘authenticity’ is banded about like it’s confetti … no one deserves that label more than John Deacon.

And while I am sure that led to all manner of tension in the band, they obviously trusted and respected him, even to the point they let him take control of the bands financial dealings … which not only resulted in them becoming multi, multi, multi millionaires, but – for a couple of years – becoming the highest paid company directors in the World.

We live in times where complicity is not just expected, but often demanded.

Where the rule of thumb is you fall in line with whatever the whim of whoever calls the shots.

But John Deacon didn’t follow that path.

Not because he was a rock n’ roll rebel … but because in his quest to be as good as he could be, he didn’t want it to come at the cost of losing who he was.

And while that may have resulted in John Deacon being one of the most underrated bass players of his time, we cannot forget it also resulted in him becoming one of the most successful musicians of all time.

And richest.

Despite never fitting in …

Be that with his choice of stage attire or the expectations of others.

Which leads to the point of this post …

Too often we feel we need to be like others to be accepted by others.

Adland is typical in this, but then so many other industries operate the same way.

It’s like group-think oppression … a clique that you feel you have to be a part of to stand a chance of being seen for yourself.

Which is mad and shit and rarely works out.

Which is why John Deacon should be a role model for us all.

Someone who never lost sight of who he was, what was important or what he expected from those around him.

Forever working hard but never taking anything for granted.

Including himself and his family.

From the outside, Queen may not come across as the poster child for ‘healthy working environment’.

And John Deacon doesn’t appear as the most natural of role models.

But as role models go – it may not be very rockstar – but it is very good advice to follow.

So wherever you are in your life or your career, be more John Deacon and find a job where they accept you like a member of Queen.

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Never Bet Against An Only Child …
November 6, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Cunning, Freddie, Music, My Childhood, Queen

As some of you know, I tried to buy Freddie Mercury’s vintage Tiffany’s moustache comb at the recent Sotherby’s auction.

I really thought I had a chance …

He apparently bought it for £90 and the estimate was £600 … so I went in with what I would consider an obscene amount of cash.

Now of course, I appreciate there is a financial crisis going on, so doing anything like this is bordering on vulgarity.

However in my defence, I have been a lifelong fan of Queen [even though I thought the music they made post 1984 was almost universally pants] so this was never about making an ‘investment’, and more about feeling close to someone who has had such an impact on my life.

That said, when I saw this photo in The Guardian in the lead-up to the auction, I was shocked at how small the comb actually was.

I don’t know why … after all, it’s a bloody moustache comb and they hardly scream MASSIVE … and yet I was convinced it would be at least the size of a normal comb rather than the sort of thing you’d find in a Christmas Cracker.

But despite that, I pressed on and for a few days … I was leading the pack.

Oh I was so excited.

I was going to get it and then have it mounted in a beautiful, ornate frame and hang it up at home … forever smiling every time I passed it.

And I would have, had my bid not got smashed to smithereens by some lunatic who bid over £150,000. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY GRAND!!!

And it is here, my only child spirit came to the fore.

You see, only children are not good at not getting what they want.

They may have to wait.
They may have to sacrifice other things.
But they will do their fucking damnest to get it.

Which is why the day I realised that to win the item, I would have to lose my house, my car, my savings and my marriage … I decided to take another tack.

Rather than cry at what I couldn’t have, I decided to spend hours on the internet, scouring antiques shops all around the world for an identical one.

And guess what … I found one.

In Cleveland, Ohio.

It’s that one in the photo above and the one below.

OK, it’s not Freddie’s … but it was 365+ times cheaper than his and I love it … hence the plaque I had made for it.

Yes, I know it’s still utterly ridiculous, but it’s not as ridiculous as Tiffany’s not releasing them again and making a fortune from idiots like me.

Which means – based on Girl Maths [which was Rob maths before Girl Maths was even a thing] – I’m a financial whizkid.

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Alive And Kicking Without Being Alive And Kicking …
September 5, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Bands, Birthday, Brand, Comment, Freddie, Management, Marketing, Music, Queen

Today would have been Freddie’s 77th birthday.

That’s almost as crazy as the fact he has been gone 32 years.

And yet his fame may have never been so high as it is now.

Yes … I appreciate this has been ‘managed’ and certain ‘iconography’ has been drip-fed into society … but for someone dead, he doesn’t half feel alive.

A biopic movie [albeit with a to of creative licence] that made a billion dollars.

A Greatest Hits album that is the biggest selling album of all time in the UK.

More ‘billion played’ songs on Spotify than any other artist in the world.

Countless books, TV shows and tribute acts … where they always feature Freddie in his ‘yellow jacket’ phase, despite that being when he was more performer than rockstar.

Regardless what you think about the optimisation of Freddie as a ‘brand’ in modern culture, you have to say it has been brilliantly done.

I can’t think of many celebrities who achieved the same level of cultural presence, 3 decades after they died.

And he’s only going to be more in our daily lives as the auction of his personal belongings starts in a few days.

Of course, I can imagine Freddie would love it.

When he was close to death, he called the band manager – Jim Beach – and said this to him:

“You can use my image, music and memory in any way you choose … just don’t make me boring”.

Given he is more present than many people alive and on our screens, it’s safe to say mission accomplished.

Happy 77th Freddie. You’re missed even though you’re around.

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Immortal Scribbles ….

So very soon, a bunch of Freddie Mercury’s belongings are going to be sold at auction.

And yes, I will be bidding on some … albeit the cheapest stuff that is available.

But if I could, there’s stuff I’d love to have.

From the shoes Freddie wore during Live Aid [which is 38 years today] to the royal cloak and crown he wore on the last Queen tour in 1986 to this …

What you see is one of the pages Freddie used to construct the lyrics and song structure for Bohemian Rhapsody.

The scribbles, the word changes [for example, originally it was going to be called Mongolian Rhapsody] the different keys he saw different parts of the song being performed in.

How amazing is that.

What is even more amazing is that it’s all on a 1974 calendar deskpad for British Midland Timesavers – which, I assume, was an airline.

Maybe he got it because originally, he worked at an airport as a baggage handler.

Maybe he got it because his parents ended up moving to Nottingham, which is near East Midland’s Airport.

But whatever the reason, for a song that will exist in culture for eternity … it’s pretty amazing it all started on some random notepad.

More than that, there are other songs that also appear on that pad … for example Somebody To Love … which proves what Queen fans have thought for decades, that they are ‘sister songs’ … and then the classic We Are The Champions, which didn’t even get recorded by the band until 3 years later.

Or said another way, one innocuous pad of paper captured three songs that went on to achieve iconic status across generations and genres.

I love it.

Not just because I’m a Queen fan, but it proves imagination and inspiration can be triggered and caught anywhere.

Sure, not everyone will achieve the same quality or impact as Freddie did, but in a world where we are trying to systemize every aspect of creativity … it’s a good reminder that for all the processes, eco-systems, models and frameworks, if we recognize, embrace, develop, work on and trust our imagination, we may find we can start creating ideas that transcend whatever the latest ‘best practice model’ can only wish for.

Not just because best practice is past practice … but because it’s goal is consistency whereas imagination is about liberation.

Now if only I had 1.2 million pounds …

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Fame Gains Attention. Legends Are Always Remembered …
September 5, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Birthday, Freddie, Queen

Today would be Freddie Mercury’s 76th birthday.

How bizarre.

Except it shouldn’t be because Brian May and Roger Taylor are similar ages and they’re still playing.

Though recently I saw a photo of Brian May coming off stage from their last concert of this current tour and he was in tears … and you sense there’s a chance that’s it. That he knows, even though it hasn’t been said.

I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

I mean, the idea of me no longer being able to do whatever it is I do freaks me out, so to be a global rockstar who knows they can’t keep performing as they have been – even though the fanbase is there – must be a whole other level of confrontation.

But if they are bowing out, doing it on a high is the only way to go and they would be doing it if they announce it now.

Which also means I’m extra thrilled I was able to see them in London.

With my best friend Paul.

Which, for me, would be the perfect sign-off.

But the thing that’s interesting is that when you think of Freddie, you don’t think of the old man version of him. You don’t see the ‘grand damme’ looking anything other than he was in 1986 … fit, flamboyant and fantastic.

Yellow jacket.
Big moustache.
Prancing around the stage like a highly-sexed panther.

Yes, I know he died 31 years ago and that was the last ‘high profile’ image of him. But given 50% of the band are still touring, the idea we still see Freddie in his prime – rather than comparing him to his band mates – is interesting.

That said, that 1986 image is not my favourite version of him.

Queen had ‘evolved’ from rock stars to entertainers by then and I have to be honest and say I prefer when they are in full blitzkrieg rock n’ roll stars.

Which is why I wish Freddie a happy birthday and leave you with a concert they did in 1981.

Even if you hate the band you will be unable to dismiss the power of their performance. This is them at their peak … literally years before they created musical immortality with Live Aid.

Don’t get me wrong, I will always love them, but I miss this version of them most.

Happy birthday Fred.

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