R.I.P. "Heaven Help Me" singer and bassist surpreme, Deon Estus

(October 11, 2021) As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, there wasn’t a cooler, smoother nighttime jam than “Heaven Help Me,” the across-the-board smash for singer and bass player extraordinaire, Deon Estus. Tonight we sadly inform SoulTrackers that Mr. Estus has died at age 65.

The Detroit-born Estus studied bass guitar under the tutelage of perhaps the greatest R&B bassist of all-time, Motown’s James Jamerson. And while still a teen, Estus created his own band and his reputation grew, allowing him to land major gigs as the warm up act for such artists as The Whispers and The Brothers Johnson. From there, Estus was recruited by famed R&B and dance band Brainstorm, with whom he recorded two albums and toured for several  years.

(October 11, 2021) As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, there wasn’t a cooler, smoother nighttime jam than “Heaven Help Me,” the across-the-board smash for singer and bass player extraordinaire, Deon Estus. Tonight we sadly inform SoulTrackers that Mr. Estus has died at age 65.

The Detroit-born Estus studied bass guitar under the tutelage of perhaps the greatest R&B bassist of all-time, Motown’s James Jamerson. And while still a teen, Estus created his own band and his reputation grew, allowing him to land major gigs as the warm up act for such artists as The Whispers and The Brothers Johnson. From there, Estus was recruited by famed R&B and dance band Brainstorm, with whom he recorded two albums and toured for several  years.

With his star rising as a bass player, Estus moved to Europe and became part of the touring band for Wham! He formed a friendship with group leader George Michael, and continued that relationship after Wham! split up, joining Michael’s band and touring the world in support of Michael’s seminal album Faith.

But Estus’s biggest moment in the sun came in 1989, when he released his solo debut album, Spell. George Michael’s participation in the project gave it immediate notice, but it was the smooth, soulful jam, “Heaven Help Me,” co-written with Michael, that took the world by storm, hitting the top 10 in several countries. Estus showed himself to have a gentle tenor voice that wrapped itself beautifully around the song, making it an instant classic.

Spell was Estus’s only major solo project, as he moved again to his role as a bassist of choice for artists ranging from Aaron Neville to Hall and Oates to Tina Turner. He relocated back to America, where he continued to work with other artists and also toured mid-sized clubs with his own act for several years.

While some in the R&B media lost touch with Estus over the past couple of decades, his impact both as a supporting artist and a front man were secure. We say a sad goodbye to this talented artist.

By Chris Rizik

 

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