Quincy Jones Details How Michael Jackson Stole Some Of His Best Material (Video)
Quincy Jones turns 85 years old next month. The musician, arranger, producer, and celebrity is showing a side of himself that may be new to most of the public. Q is speaking fearlessly about some of his most sacred collaborators and peers. The creator of 1989’s Back On The Block (a Grammy “Album Of The Year” winner that involved the rhymes of Big Daddy Kane and Ice-T) is coming clean about dating Ivanka Trump, naming who he strongly believes killed President John F. Kennedy and reports that Marlon Brando had homosexual encounters with the likes of Richard Pryor, James Baldwin, and Marvin Gaye, among others. This all takes place in a newly published Vulture Q&A with David Marchese that puts the artist sampled by The Pharcyde, Mobb Deep, and Tupac in a new light.
Perhaps most notably, Q labels Michael Jackson “greedy,” and says that “The King Of Pop” “stole a lot of stuff.” Admitting reluctance to speak negatively of his friend, Q points out how Donna Summer’s 1982 “State Of Independence,” a song he produced with M.J.’s background vocals sounds very close to 1983’s #1 “Billie Jean.” Jones urges music Heads to pay closer attention to the inserts on Jackson’s albums. “The notes don’t lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come.” He says that Jackson refused to give Greg Phillinganes credit and publishing for heavy roles in songs like 1979 hit “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough.”
Jackson has been accused of greed and loosely-borrowing before. He and The Beatles’ alum Paul McCartney transformed from collaborators to foes, after Michael purchased The Beatles’ publishing, reportedly outbidding Paul for the rights to his own songs. Upon that purchase, Sir Paul publicly disputed his royalties from the new owner of the publishing catalog. Michael’s signature choreography has also been the subject of scrutiny regarding its originality. Tony Award-winning dancer and choreographer Bob Fosse’s “snake” moves in 1974 film The Little Prince are closely emulated in Jackson’s “Billie Jean” routine:
Quincy pulls no punches over Michael Jackson’s surgical transformations. “He had a problem with his looks because his father [Joe Jackson] told him he was ugly and abused him. What do you expect?” The pair worked together extensively on some of Michael’s most beloved, and successful solo work, between Off The Wall1979’s Bad and 1987’s .
Renowned for his lifelong career in Jazz, Quincy is asked if he hears elements of the genre in contemporary Pop music. “No. People gave it up to chase money. When you go after Ciroc vodka and Phat Farm and all that sh*t, God walks out of the room,” While Q considers his most famous collaborator to be greedy, he says he, himself, is not. “I have never in my life made music for money or fame. Not even Thriller. No way. God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money. You could spend a million dollars on a piano part and it won’t make you a million dollars back. That’s just not how it works.”
He also believes today’s music lacks innovation. “It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no f*cking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. 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.” Later in the chat, he does highlight some of today’s artists whom he believes make great music: “Bruno Mars. Chance the Rapper. Kendrick Lamar. I like where Kendrick’s mind is. He’s grounded. Chance, too. And the Ed Sheeran record is great. Sam Smith — he’s so open about being gay. I love it. Mark Ronson is someone who knows how to produce.” In 2015, Jones and Lamar had a public char in a video for Hypetrak magazine. Q dismisses many modern producers as “lazy and greedy.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Quincy brushes on working his way from musician to the first VP of a major label, Mercury Records. It was after that tenure that the Chicago, Illinois-born Jones amassed a fortune through producing (Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, James Ingram, etc.), and later in ventures such as television (The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and MAD TV), VIBE magazine, and Qwest Records. “That syndication money is great, man,” he says from the couch of his Bel-Air mansion.
Jones says that his next act of business is Qwest TV, a platform that he calls the musical Netflix. His openness was in the news starting late last month after a GQ interview revealed that Quincy currently maintains relationships with a reported 22 girlfriends at age 84.
Oh, and it’s Sam Giancana that Q alleges had J.F.K. killed. Kool G Rap would name his sixth album off of the Chi-Town mobster.