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Queen Bassist John Deacon Explains The Inspiration Behind Their Epic Song ‘Another One Bites The Dust’

Photo Credit: Gus Stewart / Redferns / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gus Stewart / Redferns / Getty Images

Queen’s song, “Another One Bites The Dust,” was an absolute smash. Outside of their typical genre, the disco single was released in 1980 and went on to top the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, dominating the UK charts as well. It became the band’s top song commercially, selling over seven million copies worldwide, and won the American Music Award for Favorite Rock Single in 1981. So how did this absolute megahit come to be?

Deacon was big into disco at the time

Before Queen released the song, disco had already made its way into mainstream music. However, a lot of rock fans detested the new sound and were certainly skeptical when 0ne of the greatest rock groups of the time decided to try their hand in the genre.

John Deacon and Freddie Mercury of Queen perform on stage.
Freddie Mercury and John Deacon of Queen perform on stage at Ahoy on 29th January 1979 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo Credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot / Redferns / Getty Images)

However, Deacon had long been a fan of disco. He said in 1996, “I listened to a lot of soul music when I was in school, and I’ve always been interested in that sort of music. I’d been wanting to do a track like ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ for a while, but originally all I had was the line and the bass riff. Gradually, I filled it in and the band added ideas. I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did.”

The song was recorded in 1979 and released the following year. Deacon explained how it began to gain traction with audiences Queen hadn’t previously reached. “The song got picked up off our album and some of the black radio stations in the US started playing it, which we’ve never had before,” he said.

The band Chic believes Deacon based it on one of their songs

While Deacon says his early love of soul was what inspired the creation of “Another One Bites The Dust,” there are some musicians who say it was clearly derived from one of their songs. Some believe that Deacon based Queen’s song directly on Chic’s disco hit, “Good Times.”

The band Chic.
The dance group Chic are shown backstage, circa 1981. (Photo Credit: Lynn Goldsmith / Corbis / VCG / Getty Images)

Chic’s co-founder, Bernard Edwards, even said of the rock band’s song, “That Queen record came about because that Queen bass player … spent some time hanging out with us at our studio.” Brian May, Queen’s guitarist, confirmed that Deacon was a huge fan of Chic’s guitarist Nile Rodgers, so the claim may have some substance to it.

However, almost all music comes from sounds from before, and most critics do not chastise Deacon for “Another One Bites The Dust” sounding so similar to “Good Times.” In 2015, Rodgers even admitted that Chic’s disco hit was inspired by Kool & The Gang’s 1974 song, “Hollywood Swinging.”

Michael Jackson pushed them to release the song

After they had produced the song, it was another music legend who pushed Queen to release it as a single. The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was a big fan of theirs, and would often show up at their concerts to see them perform.

Headshot of Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California, circa 1980. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images)

Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury, said that credit for the song should go to Jackson for a number of reasons. “He was a fan and friend of ours and kept telling me, “Freddie, you need a song the cats can dance to,” Mercury explained.“John [Deacon] introduced this riff to us during rehearsal that we all immediately thought of disco, which was very popular at the time. We worked it out and once it was ready, played it for Michael.”

He continued, “I knew we had a hit as he bobbed his head up and down. ‘That’s it, that’s the gravy. Release it and it will top the charts,’ he said. So we did and it did.” It was Jackson who pushed the band to release the song as a single to promote their album, The Game.

More from us: The Real Backstory of Heart’s Hit Song ‘Barracuda’

This was clearly the right call as the single went on to top charts around the globe. Fun fact: the song also appeared in an early version of Rocky III before it was replaced by Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!