Quincy Jones, who turned 85 this week, recently made headlines – so many headlines! – when he gave a wild interview to Vulture in which he claimed Marlon Brando would “fuck a mailbox”. Having spent well over half a century in the world of showbiz, the legendary producer has worked with the biggest names in the business (think MJ, Ray Charles, Sinatra), so he has a few ripping yarns to tell.
With a Netflix doc, a CBS special hosted by Oprah and a 10-part TV biopic currently in the works, we’ve done the right thing and rounded up 10 of his most outrageous tales.
Words: Lola Grieve
In a jaw-droppingly candid interview with GQ last month, Quincy blurted out that Elvis could not sing. “Motherfucker couldn’t sing”. A Little Less Conversation please, Quincy.
Although controversial, Malcolm X is best remembered as a human rights activist during a troubled period of American history. Or, if you’re Quincy Jones, Malcolm is remembered as the guy with the gear. When asked if he would personally buy drugs off Malcolm X, Quincy replied “Personally? He then nodded and said: “Shit, everybody in the band bought it!”
The music mogul’s no-fucks-given lifestyle has never been a secret, and last month the man himself boasted about his 22 girlfriends (“I got 22 girlfriends”.) Apparently they all know each other – family bonding at its finest.
Over the years ole Quincy has been particularly vocal about MJ, slagging him off left, right and centre. In 2013, he claimed that “working with Michael Jackson was an accident” and in the Vulture interview revealed that “Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs...Greedy, man. Greedy”. I guess that, nowadays, Quincy really Wanna Be Startin’ Something.
The relentless shitstorm of MJ hate just keeps on coming from Q, revealing in 2010 how “I was in London when Michael died, which was hard for me. Not that I wanted to go the funeral. I don’t go to them any more because I find them too depressing.” Talk about no filter!
Perhaps his biggest slip of the tongue was when Quincy described the beloved Beatles as the “worst musicians in the world”. On his first impression of the Beatles, last month Jone’s remarked “They were no-playing motherfuckers. Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it.” Ouch.
He claimed in the GQ piece: “Frank [Sinatra] was always trying to hook me up with Marilyn Monroe, but Marilyn Monroe had a chest that looked like pears, man.” When asked if he explicitly turned her down, Jone’s replied “Let’s not talk about it. Come on, man. We killed it.
Last but not least, the time when Quincy claimed to know who killed JFK. When asked by Vulture last month ‘What’s something you wish you didn’t know?’, he replied “Who killed Kennedy”. Jones’ claimed it was Chicago gangster Sam Giancana. Somebody please commission a show called Quincy Jones Investigates.
Because he hadn’t attacked enough musical legends already, Quincy went out of his way to slag off Hendrix as overrated. “Jimi Hendrix was out there fucking up the national anthem.” He also revealed how “He was supposed to play on my album and he chickened out”.