In a revealing interview, Quincy Jones talked about working with The King of Pop.
Jones sat down with Vulture for another wide-spanning interview in celebration of his upcoming Netflix documentary and CBS special. The legendary music producer, who turns 85 in March, talked about his appreciation of jazz, Trump, and his work with Michael Jackson, who he says “stole” more than people realized.
I hate to get into this publicly,” he said, publicly, “but Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs. [Donna Summer’s] ‘State of Independence’ and ‘Billie Jean.’ The notes don’t lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come.”
Later, he explained how his work with Jackson excelled in bringing together different eras, and keeping “the ear busy,” which he feels happens less in modern music.
“The best example of me trying to feed the musical principles of the past — I’m talking about bebop — is ‘Baby Be Mine,'” he said. “That’s Coltrane done in a pop song. Getting the young kids to hear bebop is what I’m talking about. Jazz is at the top of the hierarchy of music because the musicians learned everything they could about music.”
He also shares an incredible story about The Beatles, in response to a question about his first impressions of them. It is worth reading in full:
“That they were the worst musicians in the world. They were no-playing motherfuckers. Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it. I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and Ringo had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldn’t get it. We said, “Mate, why don’t you get some lager and lime, some shepherd’s pie, and take an hour-and-a-half and relax a little bit.” So he did, and we called Ronnie Verrell, a jazz drummer. Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says, “George, can you play it back for me one more time?” So George did, and Ringo says, “That didn’t sound so bad.” And I said, “Yeah, motherfucker because it ain’t you.” Great guy, though.”
Check out the full interview here.