Deon Estus was a premier bass player, having apprenticed until legendary Motown session man James Jamerson. Estus’s talents were noticed by pop duo Wham!, and he was hired by the duo and became an integral part of their touring band. Deon appears prominently in the “I’m Your Man” and “Edge of Heaven” videos. Following Wham!’s split, Estus continued on with group focal point George Michael. While George himself played a fair amount of bass on his solo debut, Faith, Deon reproduced those bass parts on stage.
When Deon decided he wanted to record on his own, he had favors to call in. George graced several tracks on Deon’s debut, Spell, with his presence. The best song (and the only hit) was the moody beat ballad “Heaven Help Me”. It could’ve fit squarely on Faith (or any of George’s solo releases, truthfully). Heartbroken lyrics? Check. Airy production? Check. To put the cherry on top, George decided to sing very prominent backing vocals on the song. This no doubt led to “Heaven Help Me” earning a top 5 placement on the American pop, R&B and adult contemporary charts.
George’s shadow loomed large over popular music in the late ’80s, so just about anything with his name on it was bound to get some attention. However, “Heaven Help Me” isn’t just a case of someone being so hot they could make anything a hit. George wrote and produced a fantastic song.
Much like the song that precedes “Heaven Help Me” on this list, Spell was in cutout bins by the time I was buying music, so I was able to obtain a copy fairly cheaply. I can’t say I recommend the album as a whole, but Deon was able to get at least one undisputable classic under his belt, and that’s more than a lot of other artists can boast.