EXCLUSIVEDeacon Jones wasn't just a QB killa ... he's also responsible for bringing WAR to the world ... this according to two of the legendary band's founding members.
Back before WAR took over the music scene, some of the guys performed in a band called Nightshift ... which played backup for Deacon during his singing gigs. (Deacon was a hell of an R&B singer).
In fact, Nightshift was reportedly "discovered" by a major record producer while backing up Deacon during a gig in 1969 ... and they soon became WAR.
Also, Deacon famously sang on the studio recording of "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
Now, two of the original members of WAR -- Harold Brown and Howard Scott -- tell TMZ they're eternally grateful for everything Deacon did for their careers.
"Were it not for Deacon's interest, we may not have become world-famous musicians as members of WAR," the guys told TMZ in a joint statement.
Brown and Scott also tell us they plan to dedicate an entire concert to their "friend and mentor" at their July 27 show in Chicago.
Deacon passed away on Monday night at his home in California. He was 74.