Quincy Jones's Thoughts in This Batshit New Interview, Ranked
The music industry icon talked to Vulture about the Kennedy assassination, The Beatles' incompetence, and his belief that Marlon Brando had sex with Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye, and James Baldwin.
Jerod Harris / Stringer
Quincy Jones, the legendary producer and record industry mogul whose six-decade-long career has had a greater influence on the state of sound than that of perhaps any other living human, has rarely shied away from letting loose in an interview. Just three years ago he was telling Noisey about jazz, Clint Eastwood, and the greed of modern music.
But lately, with Jones approaching his 85th birthday, he seems to have gone scorched-earth. In an interview with GQ's Chris Heath, published last week, Jones talked about having a switchblade pushed through his hand and an ice-pick pushed into his temple as a kid; he bragged about having 22 girlfriends and speaking 26 languages; he told stories of Truman Capote's racism; he recalled, off-hand, that Prince Rogers Nelson had once sat in a limousine, waiting to mow down Michael Jackson. Nothing is off-limits for Quincy Jones now. He barely had half a damn to give in the first place, and he's hardly mellowing with age.
A week on from that conversation with Heath, Jones has seemingly opened up a little more. This morning, we get more of Jones's stories and thoughts, with Vulture's David Marchese asking the questions. It is a goddamned marvel. Jones, a man who has met almost every 20th century cultural icon, is in the mood to namedrop here, so every story is seasoned with some seemingly impossible scandal. He jumps all over the place, occasionally breaking from some major revelation to say that he can't discuss this in public. You really should read the thing in full. But, in the hopes of guiding you through the lunacy, we've ranked Jones's responses to Marchese's questions below.
1. The part where Quincy Jones says that Marlon Brando slept with James Baldwin, Marvin Gaye, and Richard Pryor
This, like so many of Jones's bombs, drops from nowhere. One moment he's talking about today's pop musicians and their laziness, the next moment he's somewhere else entirely. "Do these musicians know tango? Macumba? Yoruba music? Samba? Bossa nova? Salsa? Cha-cha?" he asks.
Marchese: Maybe not the cha-cha.
Jones: [Marlon] Brando used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.
Marchese: He slept with them? How do you know that?
Jones: [Frowns.] Come on, man. He did not give a fuck! You like Brazilian music?
They do not dwell on this. Swiftly on.
2. The part where Quincy Jones says he dated Ivanka Trump, whose father is a "crazy motherfucker."
It's possible that Jones is overstating things a little here. After briefly breaking down America's deep-rooted racism, he turns quickly to Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka. Whether or not dinner with the eldest Trump daughter can be considered a "date" is questionable. But we're not here to interrogate Quincy Jones's idea of what a date might be. We're here for Jones calling Donald Trump a "crazy motherfucker," one who is "limited mentally—a megalomaniac, narcissistic." Then, in the next breath:
Jones: ...I used to date Ivanka, you know.
Marchese: Wait, really?
Jones: Yes, sir. Twelve years ago. Tommy Hilfiger, who was working with my daughter Kidada, said, “Ivanka wants to have dinner with you.” I said, “No problem. She’s a fine motherfucker.” She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life. Wrong father, though.
3. The part where Quincy Jones just shakes his head when asked if U2 still make good music.
Again, this bounces off of a question about racism. Bono, we're told, puts Jones up at his castle in Ireland sometimes because the country is so racist. But that doesn't win his band Jones's favor in an interview:
Marchese: Is U2 still making good music?
Jones: [Shakes head.]
4. The part where Quincy Jones says The Beatles were "the worst musicians in the world"
Pretty self-explanatory, this. Magnificent nonetheless.
Marchese: What were your first impressions of the Beatles?
Jones: 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.
5. The part where Quincy Jones says Microsoft co-founder and sports mogul Paul Allen plays guitar just like Jimi Hendrix
This, right after the story about The Beatles, is bizarre. He sets it up by half-trying to compliment Eric Clapton, but forgets that his band was called Cream. Then he just rolls right into this:
Marchese: Were there any rock musicians you thought were good?
Jones: I used to like Clapton’s band. What were they called?
Jones: Yeah, they could play. But you know who sings and plays just like Hendrix?
Jones: Paul Allen
Marchese: Stop it. The Microsoft guy?
Jones: Yeah, man. I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon—all those crazy motherfuckers. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him—he’s good, man.
6. The part where Quincy Jones says he knows who killed Kennedy
Honestly, this could be a little further up, but there's so much going on in this interview that I completely forgot that Jones said he knew the truth about the Kennedy assassination. And I'll be damned if I'm rearranging the whole thing now. The artistry here comes from Jones clearly angling to bring the topic up, then moving things along when he's said his part:
Marchese: You sure seem to know a lot.
Jones: I know too much, man.
Marchese: What’s something you wish you didn’t know?
Jones: Who killed Kennedy.
Marchese: Who did it?
Jones: [Chicago mobster Sam] Giancana. The connection was there between Sinatra and the Mafia and Kennedy. Joe Kennedy—he was a bad man—he came to Frank to have him talk to Giancana about getting votes.
Marchese: I’ve heard this theory before, that the mob helped win Illinois for Kennedy in 1960.
Jones: We shouldn’t talk about this publicly. Where you from?
Read the entire interview at Vulture, and hope to God that we get a new one of these every week. All school textbooks on 20th century American history should be written, in the first-person, by Quincy Jones.
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- Michael Jackson
- Marvin Gaye
- Quincy Jones
- richard pryor
- Kennedy assassination
- david marchese