Deon Estus

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Deon Estus
Birth nameJeffery Deon Estus
Born(1956-07-04)July 4, 1956
OriginDetroit, Michigan, United States
DiedOctober 11, 2021(2021-10-11) (aged 65)
GenresR&B, pop
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, bassist
Instrument(s)Bass guitar
Years active1975–2021
LabelsPolyGram, Mika Records, Geffen, Polydor, Metronome

Jeffery Deon Estus[1] (July 4, 1956 – October 11, 2021) was an American musician and singer, best known as the bass player of Wham! and as the bassist on George Michael's first two solo projects. Estus' single "Heaven Help Me", with additional vocals by George Michael, reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1989.[2]

Early life[edit]

Estus was born in Detroit on July 4, 1956.[3] He went to Northwestern High School. There, he sang second tenor in the choir under the direction of Brazel Dennard. His bass guitar teacher was James Jamerson of Motown's the Funk Brothers.[4]

Career[edit]

Estus joined the R&B band Brainstorm as a teenager, recording two albums with them and scoring a hit with "Popcorn". During the early 1980s, he moved to Europe to join and tour with Marvin Gaye. He lived in Belgium and Ireland, before settling in London. He turned down the chance to play bass on Marvin Gaye's 1982 comeback album, Midnight Love, because he was so busy recording and he said that he was not aware that it would be the last album released during Gaye's lifetime.[5][6] After his bass talents were recognized, he was invited to join the UK pop group, Wham!. He went on to tour China with Wham! and later backed Wham! frontman George Michael on his Faith tour. He also participated in the late-1980s collective Boogie Box High, which was spearheaded by George Michael's cousin, Andros Georgiou, and featured George Michael along with other high-profile musicians; Estus appears on the group's only album, Outrageous, released in 1989.[7] Estus later performed with George Michael at Rock in Rio and continued to play bass as part of his backing band until George Michael's death in 2016.[8]

In 1989, Estus released a solo album entitled Spell, produced by Colin Campsie and George McFarlane, with several tracks produced by George Michael. Released before the album, the single "Me or the Rumours" reached No. 15 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1988. In 1989, the album's title track hit No. 11 on the Adult Contemporary chart. However, the album's biggest hit was the No. 5 Billboard Hot 100 single "Heaven Help Me", for which George Michael supplied backing vocals. It also peaked at No. 3 on both the Adult Contemporary and Hot R&B charts.[2] The album itself ultimately reached No. 89 on the Billboard 200 and No. 44 on the Top R&B Albums chart.[9][10]

Estus also played with Tina Turner, Frank Zappa, George Clinton, Annie Lennox, Edgar Winter, Aaron Neville, and Elton John.[3][11] In recent years, Estus was the featured bass player for the R&B band, Switch.

Personal life[edit]

Estus was married, in his twenties, to Olga Johnson. This union produced one daughter, Laela Estus and three grandchildren, Shasparay, Aireyon, and James. Divorced in the mid-1980s, he remained single, until his death.[8][failed verification] Estus died on October 11, 2021, at the age of 65.[1][11]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album US
[12]
1989 Spell[13] 89

Singles[edit]

Year Title Album Peak chart positions
US Hot 100
[2]
US R&B
[2]
US Adult
[2]
US Dance
[2]
CAN
[14]
UK
[15]
1988 "Me or the Rumours"[16] Spell 15
1989 "Heaven Help Me"[16] 5 3 3 4 41
"Spell"[16] 74 11
"–" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Atkinson, Katie (October 11, 2021). "Deon Estus, Wham! & George Michael Bassist Behind the Hit 'Heaven Help Me,' Dies at 65". Billboard. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Deon Estus Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Monger, James Christopher. "Deon Estus – Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Rizik, Chris (October 11, 2021). "R.I.P. "Heaven Help Me" singer and bassist supreme, Deon Estus". Soul Tracks. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  5. ^ "Deon Estus » About Deon". January 17, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  6. ^ "Deon Estus: George Michael's buddy has no problem with egos". Observer-Reporter. May 11, 1989. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  7. ^ Ridgeley, Andrew (2019). Wham! George & Me (First ed.). Penguin. p. 184. ISBN 9780241385807.
  8. ^ a b Moore, Sam (October 13, 2021). "Wham! bassist, Deon Estus, has died aged 65". The Independent. London. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  9. ^ "Spell Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "Deon Estus Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Richards, Will (October 12, 2021). "Wham! and George Michael bassist Deon Estus has died aged 65". NME. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  12. ^ "Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  13. ^ "Deon Estus – Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  14. ^ Lwin, Nanda (August 1996). The Canadian Singles Chart Book – Music Data Canada. ISBN 1-896594-09-3.
  15. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 187. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  16. ^ a b c "Deon Estus – Song Highlights". AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2021.

External links[edit]