Quincy Jones has said he thought The Beatles were “the worst musicians in the world”.
The legendary record producer has recalled his first impressions of the Fab Four in a new interview, in which he described rock music as “nothing but a white version of rhythm and blues”, and said he first met Paul McCartney when the Beatle was 21.
Asked what his first impressions of the Liverpool band were, Jones replied: “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 abut it.”
He shared an anecdote with Vulture about being in the studio with the band and producer George Martin, in which the drummer had “taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song”. “He couldn’t get it,” Jones said. 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.”
Later in the interview, after revealing Bono makes the producer “stay at his castle” whenever he goes to Dublin “because Ireland is so racist”, Jones was asked if he thought U2 were still making good music. After shaking his head, he was pressed for a reason, to which he replied: “I don’t know. I love Bono with all my heart, but there’s too much pressure on the band.
“He’s doing good work all over the world,” he continued. “Working with him and Bob Geldof on debt relief was one of the greatest things I ever did. It’s up there with ‘We Are The World’.”