Deon Estus, Bassist With Elton John and Frank Zappa, Dies at 65
Bassist Deon Estus died yesterday at 65.
While he was best known for his work with Wham! and George Michael, Estus also played with Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, Frank Zappa, George Clinton, Annie Lennox, Edgar Winter and Elton John during his long career.
The news of his death was confirmed on Estus' Twitter page, though no official cause of death has been reported. "It is with real sadness I post that Deon Estus passed away this morning," the tweet read. "Deon was mostly known as the third member of Wham! Deon was passionate about music and loved interacting with his loyal fans."
Estus' partner, Brenda Kaye Pearce, also acknowledged the loss. "My dearest, closest partner and significant other of four years transitioned, and all I can remember is our last conversation the day before," she wrote on Facebook (via Billboard). "My heart will need time to heal. RIP Deon. Love you forever."
Born Jeffery Deon Estus in Detroit in 1956, he began learning bass at an early age, taking lessons from James Jamerson of Motown's legendary Funk Brothers. After spending a few years playing and recording with local bands, Estus moved overseas and settled in London, where he was spotted by Michael. He joined Wham! on tour and later backed Michael in his successful solo career.
In 1989, Estus released a solo album, Spell, which included several tracks produced by Michael. The LP spawned a hit single, "Heaven Help Me," which featured cowriter Michael on backing vocals.
Listen to Deon Estus' 'Heaven Help Me'
When Michael died in 2016, Estus was among the many musicians to pay tribute. “I’m still in shock," he told Billboard at the time. "It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but it helps to talk about it and to think about all those fantastic tours, all those records, all the people he’s helped and all the things he’s done, which is a lot. I was blessed to have known him.”
Estus noted in a 2011 interview that he found the joys of sharing music with others around the globe during his many tours. "The more you can stay on the road, the better," he said. "You get a chance to see the world. You get a chance to meet people. It’s great, and you’re making people happy. That’s the best thing."