When you’re one of music’s most revered producers and your 85th birthday is right around the corner, what’s the harm in speaking your mind?
That’s what Quincy Jones is up to in a bare-knuckles, no-holds-barred interview with Vulture, in which he manages to trash The Beatles as “the worst musicians in the world” and describe Michael Jackson as a “greedy,” “Machiavellian” song thief.
In the interview, Jones (who began his career as an accomplished jazz trumpeter and arranger) is asked about when he first heard rock music, which leads him to reminisce about working with The Beatles.
As Jones recalls, the Fab Four “were the worst musicians in the world. They were no-playing motherf**kers,” he says. “Paul [McCartney] 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, motherf**ker because it ain’t you.’ Great guy, though.”
Jones produced three of Michael Jackson’s most successful albums — “Off the Wall”, “Bad” and the iconic “Thriller” — but reveals the self-proclaimed King of Pop was known to steal songs.
“I hate to get into this publicly, but Michael stole a lot of stuff,” asserts Jones. “He stole a lot of songs. [Donna Summer’s] ‘State of Independence’ and ‘Billie Jean’. The notes don’t lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come.”
Asked to elaborate, Jones continues: “Greedy, man. Greedy. ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ — Greg Phillinganes wrote the c section. Michael should’ve given him 10 per cent of the song. Wouldn’t do it.”
Jones also comments about Jackson’s changing appearance over the years. “I used to kill him about the plastic surgery, man. He’d always justify it and say it was because of some disease he had. Bulls**t,” says Jones. “He had a problem with his looks because his father told him he was ugly and abused him. What do you expect?”
One person who took issue with Jones’ assessment of The Beatles’ musical abilities is Crosby, Stills & Nash co-founder David Crosby.
Meanwhile, here’s what others (including such celebs as Rob Lowe and “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen) are saying about Jones’ scorched-earth interview: