Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson, the Beatles, President Trump

Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson, the Beatles, President Trump

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Wednesday, 07 February 2018
Music News
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On the eve of his 85th birthday, legendary record producer Quincy Jones covered a lot of controversial ground in a wide-ranging interview with New York magazine

The frank interview touched on lighter fare, like astrology (he’s a Pisces) and dating Ivanka Trump, to why race relations and feminism are imperative movements right now.

Jones gave many opinions about the music industry (namely, that it no longer exists), but is optimistic about artists like Bruno Mars, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith and Mark Ronson. The verbose 28-time Grammy winner had plenty of hot takes about the musical legends he’s worked with over decades, from Michael Jackson to the Beatles to Cream.

Here are some highlights from the conversation: 

Michael Jackson lifted music from Donna Summer. 
“He stole a lot of songs,” Jones said, citing Donna Summer’s “State of Independence,” from which, he claimed, Jackson lifted the riff for his 1982 hit “Billie Jean.” “He was as Machiavellian as they come. Greedy, man. Greedy,” he said. Jones also said that he used to “kill” Jackson over his plastic surgery, calling the late pop star’s vitiligo justification “bullshit.”

Jones thought the Beatles were terrible musicians. 
“Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it,” Jones said, calling the legendary band “no-playing motherfuckers.” The mega-producer singled out Ringo Starr, who he worked with on his solo album. “I remember once … 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.”

Oprah should be president of the United States.
“I don’t think she should run. She doesn’t have the chops for it. If you haven’t been governor of a state or the CEO of a company or a military general, you don’t know how to lead people,” said Jones, who is friends with the media mogul. That said, President Trump doesn’t impress him. “He doesn’t know shit … Someone who knows about real leadership wouldn’t have as many people against him as he does. He’s a fucking idiot.”

Race relations have a long way to go in the United States.
“I’ve been watching it a long time – the ’30s to now,” Jones said. “We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go. The South has always been fucked up, but you know where you stand. The racism in the North is disguised. You never know where you stand.” The music mogul said that he thinks that the state of the world is “the worst we’ve ever been,” but that it’s heartening to see that people are trying to fix the bigger problems. “Feminism: Women are saying they’re not going to take it anymore. Racism: People are fighting it,” he said. “God is pushing the bad in our face to make people fight back.”

Today’s music business is lazy, he said. 
Jones denounced the lack of innovation across different genres. “That’s true about rap, that it’s the same phrase over and over and over again,” he said. He said today’s pop music lacks originality. “It’s just loops, beats rhymes and hooks … The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer.” However, he name-checked Bruno Mars, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith and Mark Ronson, as musicians who excite him. 

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