Interviewer: You wrote in your book, My entire page 216 my entire career, my entire life has been based on trying to break down the walls of commerce throughout the world I live. Tell us how you tried to break down those walls in music and just some of the obstacles you face. Some of the moments where you felt like you were actually.
Quincy Jones: Oh, my God, that's a big question of breaking down walls. Me give me give me a minute on that. Because that's that's one that's that's because. I mean, it's hard to recall real quick.
Interviewer: You do it in so many different areas. Let's start with Hollywood. You OK? You think story about where you shop in Hollywood.
Quincy Jones: OK. OK.
Interviewer: So what was your experience like breaking down barriers in Hollywood?
Quincy Jones: Well, my first encounter with Hollywood was after I guess after two years after I finished my first movie, I wanted to do movies since I was 15 years old. I was an absolute obsessed with a film film scores. I don't know why. Just something, appealed to me and was to play hooky in Seattle and then identify Alfred Newman, etcetera. And after the pawnbroker, I said, OK. This is at 30 years old. I finally got my Brexiteer limit. Give me the break. Now it's going to start rolling. Nothing. And finally, a call got a call from my agent and I said, we've got a picture with Gregory Peck and Walter, my Paul Mirage. And I've got my best tablet suit out. I got out to California and the producers were shocked when I walked in because they were unaware that I was black at the time. And I mean, you could see it was very obvious. So they said, we'll be right back after the shock. And now they call Henry Mancini, who is a very good friend of mine. And he said the guys get into the 20th century. You know, he has studied would Nadia Boulanger, etc. And they've always been supportive. And don't worry about him writing blues for Gregory Peck, because what it might be a good idea. Gregory said itmight be a good idea, but that, you know, what it is, is this is I find the longer you live, it's about stereotypes and preconceived ideas of people that don't get around each other and never get to know each other then. And that's my remedy for trying to cure some of the things that just giving people together so they can notice that this is not a bad guy. But, you know, I hear I've heard lines in my life many times. Oh. Which you're not really black. I said, yes, I am really black. And it does say you can't separate out, pull people out and say this is an exception because of whatever it is, you know. And I feel the same way. I to me, I don't know what the big deal is about talking about women. Like everybody's so liberal with hiring a woman for that. What are you talking about? Melba Liston and Hazel Scott, one of the great ladies in my own band and everything is whoever thought twice about that. Know it's the basic things that people can place of. Phil Woods is in the band and listen. I don't get it. I never did get it. And I wasn't aware that so many people were conscious about that. I heard a lot of stories, even from Artie Shaw used to tell me stories about how difficult it was with Lena when they first went to the South and even in the Charlie Parker story. It was almost a parody when they tried to talk about how they got away with taking Red Rodney down to the South and Clint Eastwood's film. And they thought they called him an albino blues singer, Albino Red. It was really funny to realize that it had to get that ludicrous.
Interviewer: You toured the South with him. Tell me about do you remember moments where, you know, you guys literally couldn't get food to eat or had trouble with hotel rooms, that sort of thing? I mean, you lived that you brought that with you didn't you?
Quincy Jones: Well, yes, I did. And the the the the strange part of it was when I was 10 years old, my father took me out of Chicago. I really lived there was the biggest ghetto in America, which is Chicago ghetto. And we almost didn't see white people. I didn't see what people tell. I was 10 years old and we took a Trailways bus out to Seattle, to Birmingham. During the war. We were reenacted for the through and out the bus. I remember the bus stopped in Idaho and everybody went in the restaurant. We couldn't go in the restaurant. We had to go to some black homes on the other side of town to eat. But at 10 years old, you still don't get it. And so by the time we got to Seattle. This is the dye, the total opposite of of what Chicago was. Because we would like the first black kids and parents. So that was an experience, too, because not really know what what what racial bigotry was about. That's so we got our indoctrination of in the northwest. Both sides of people that didn't care. And people who have very strong views about separate races.
Interviewer: In Chicago, we explored your. You told these amazing stories about your family. Paint that moment for us once again, an incredible, important moment in your life where you find music and what it how it changes your life and it replaces things that you need in Bremerton.
Quincy Jones: Yes, it was Bremerton where I think I hit the wall with a crossroads because coming out of Chicago, you're totally oriented, gang oriented. You really are in every sense of the word. Chicago's probably the best spawning ground of the best gangsters of every race, religion in the world. And we saw control of territories and allow that mentality since we were kids. So we got to Bremerton, my brothers and I, we said ok that's what we'll d. We run this territory. It was a very big territory and we got into a situation. I lost my point. I'm sorry.
Interviewer: The armory, the moment in the armory. Let's just reframe a little bit.
Quincy Jones: Pick up there?
Interviewer: Ok so.
Quincy Jones: So after this whole life of thuggery, you know, there was just a way of life. That's what everybody did and there was no other way. You would a lot of idle time. And one night we decided, OK. The armories, the recreation center. Let's hit that one up tonight. We've got all the grocery stores and everything all ready. Let's get the armory tonight. Because that have a lot of interest in good as it was really the invention of prowling around. And so we broke into the armory and we found lemon meringue pie and ice cream, which was delicious after we made all we could. We started to have pie fights and everything and everybody sort of individually went off to explore, to see whatever room they could break into. And I found one Roman broke into it and it was like a ghost or administration room. And I opened a door and they're over there in the shadows was a spent piano. And that was just some very abstract thing to me at the time. I know it, lady next to me to play piano, but I never thought about being connected with it. And I almost closed down, left. And I went back in and I just went over to the piano and put the fingers, ran my fingers over the keyboard. And from that moment on, I decided it was no more switchblades, no more guns, no more football, no more sports or anything. That was it. And that at that moment in my life, I could feel that that was a commitment the rest of my life to music would be would be it forever. I can't drive a car anything else but but music was it. And it started there as never ended. Thank God.
Interviewer: Thank you. The other interesting thing is that it wasn't one particular music early on in Bremerton you embrace. Give us a sense of how, even though it's out in Seattle, which at the time feels in that period in history, feels like it's out. Whereas Seattle is not a major center, it's a place where bands tour through and you pick up lots of different kinds of music.
Quincy Jones: Well, you know, you have to understand the time we were in Bremerton, 43 and Seattle. The Northwest was probably one of the hottest cities in America for music because of all the armed forces, the Navy, Marines, Air Force and an Army and everybody shipped out from there to what they call Pacific Theater, I think, to go to Japan because this was right in the heat of the war and all of. It was a kind of a situation of just what was such a cross-section of people. We played it, Frances typical night would be a nightclub or a tennis or the Seattle Tennis Club, where it's a pure, you know, upper class dinner club where we played five cardigans and bow ties and so forth and cup mutes. We play songs like A Roomful of Roses and to each his own and all those things that whatever the hit parade was in the forties, mid forties at 10 o'clock would shift drastically, changed costumes, and we'd go to the rocking chair and the black and Tan Washington Educational and Social Club, which is a really funny title from a club like that club. But it really was. And play hardcore rhythm and blues and and play for strip teasers and do Roy Milton things, Louis Jordan stuff and dancers and and do comedy. We had a comedy team, the trombone player and I know. And about two o'clock we were through there. And we'd go get more relaxed, relaxed clothes on and go down to the Washington and I mean to the Elks Club on Jackson Avenue, which was a red light district and play be up all night for nothing. I mean, that was it, because everybody that came through town, Dizzy or Basie with Clark Terry and these people, it all come down there. And that's what would happen. And Ray Charles, when I was 14, I was down there one night and this new kid came in from Florida and it was Ray Charles. We call him Arcy. And eventually 6'9 to this day, we call each other by number. He's 6'9, I'm 7'0. Because it's easier identification to say, Hey, Ray, it's me. You know, it's. And that's a relationship I cherish very much because we used to dream back in those days about symphony orchestra work and movies and all kinds of things. And girls. And we did it all together, you know, from his albums to the Heat of the Night to the Houston Symphony, we did a black requiem. And with the world everything. And it's so very treasured relationship to me. But we had to play everything with school. We played Sousa. And you play classical music and vibrancy on just on the jobs of Ray Charles. We played Babe Lucille on some of the jobs and we had to play Big Fat Butterfly parody, a parody on a poor butterfly. We had to play absolutely everything shot. And I love it because in the beginning we were so here. We really wanted that just being hit. Was it you know, you had the we heard about what was happening in New York. And you have to realize there was the kind of communications no MTV, you couldn't actually see it. So you had to imagine what being hip was about. And so you overdo it a little bit. Small town guys always overdo it being here. They still do. And we would try to make the sound like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and Brave would say, hey, man, come on, let's be real to the soul of the music and go straight to the soul of it. And that's why I learned that very, very dramatic way, how to really be involved with the soul that initially created the music and to to be flexible enough to move from one area to another. And so a lot of the people that we did, Michael Jackson talked about. We used to talk about selling out. I said, what are you talking about? We did this all my life. It's so it's not a stretch. Not no. Music was a stretch. We played everything.
Interviewer: One thing I don't want to miss or we move away from here. Ray Charles, I know you are simply playing with him whatever. He taught you about music in some ways.
Quincy Jones: He did.
Interviewer: Let's just hang on. Cameras ready. But then again, a little more center. What did 6'9 teach you?
Quincy Jones: Ray Charles, when he first came to Seattle, I mean, in every way, the difference between a fortune and all the 16 year old Ray, it felt like it was 30 years between because he was so mature and grown up. Number one, you have to understand it. He had his girlfriend. He had an apartment. He had a record player. It was amazing, two suits, everything. And this 14 year old kid. I was saying how do you do that? So I used to worry him to death and wake him up all time. What do you want now man?And of course, he he knew he had sight and he was seven. So he understood music, not musical notation. And I was as thirsty and hungry as anybody that ever lived to learn. And Ray would teach me in Braille all notations and so forth. He knew exactly what to dominate. The 16th was. And he'd write. We'd sit down and write a range of songs, things like Emanom, Dizzy Gillespie tunes and we'd play those with our junior boundary bumps. Blackwell bumps. Blackwell eventually had our took over our band, Charlie Taylor band and made it to bust Blackwell Junior Band. But it's all also was a guy that discovered Little Richard and Sam Cooke. And it was an enormous play, an enormous role in our lives. And we were very fortunate. We he gets his shot. They got us to focus on discipline and rehearsing and really getting that thing together. We were pretty tight for 14 year old kids. We really had a hot band. Buddy Catlett was a real musician in the band, but we all were no good and play players and everything else. I could write a little bit. And so Cab Calloway would come through. That's where I first met Milt Hinton, Johnny Jones. They were all with Cab Calloway's band, and we opened for Cab. We'd do it without saying we had vocal groups and everything. And then we played for Billie Holiday, which she came through. I was fifteen and Bobby Tucker was her musical director. And then actually he came back on Billie Holiday's and we were so busy gawking. And we were so all in awe of her, we almost didn't play. And Bobby said, does get busy. You know, if you got to sit them gok all night, go get a ticket, then of course, we just couldn't believe we were playing with her. And the next year he came back and he was with Billy Eckstein, who played with Billy Eckstine. So we were feeling pretty confident about our abilities at that time.
Interviewer: What did those guys who came through the Basies, Billy Eckstine bands represent for you? You said earlier there was no MTV. It's not Like you are gonna plug into what's happening elsewhere when these guys came to town what do they mean?
Quincy Jones: The traveling the bit like the big black big bands that came through in the Wideman's to the blues bands from California when they came to we had no other communication. So when they came through, they were a microcosm of the world and they were were guiding lights because as I said before, there's no MTV. There's nothing to bounce your identity off of. They had no note that nothing about black people in books up there for maybe an occasional Booker T. Washington or or George Washington Carver. But, you know, radio radio had a lot to do with my imagination, not because outside of the stereotypical things like Bulow and Rochester, Rochester had a lot of attitude like. He would sometimes act a lot. Amos 'n Andy, they were white. So the only outside contact we got with who did well, what do you want to be when you grow up and what what kind of principles do you hold on to? You know, do you what is dignity and pride? Know, how was that manifest itself? And these are the bands that define that for us. They come through and they were jovial and they were unified and tight. Sometimes they have fights and bands, but for the most part, the guys were tight and fun. I don't know. I just just to look at them just like go go Gaga because they were so, you know, Bobby Platers and. And Clark, terrorists would come through at those levels, so together and fun and dignified and proud and talented and confident. And it's as I said, that's that's the family I want to be in. I mean, that between the piano the first time and that it helped me make my manase of men first, that this is only thing that is to do. And as I said about radio before, television spells everything out and videos more than ever was used to be able listen to a song and create your own images. Now it tell you what you're supposed to see. And I'm not sure whether that's I think radio's better because radio I could imagine a Green Hornet being anybody or the shadow. I love a mystery and all those things. Dagwood and Blondie, I can play around with that much. It was a I thought it was a great stimulant to my imagination. Amazing, because either while imagination anyway, radio helped a lot.
Interviewer: You mentioned a little bit. You Mentioned Clark Terry. Tell us what attracted you to him. I'm just waiting on a siren that's cruising Fifth Avenue and then ultimately what he thought.
Quincy Jones: Well, what use to happen, we played hooky a lot. Because Iwas lucky that I had a music teacher named Parker Cooke that understand that whenever I defected, you know, it was for a good reason because it was something it was about direction I was very passionate about. Even nightclubs, he turned the other way. When I've come in at eleven o'clock at the playing nightclubs until 5:00 in the morning at a very early age. And so we used to go down to the level of certain places like the Palomar Theater, where everybody came through it. You know, Mel Torme, Mae and Sammy Davis Junior in this massive, massive trio. And Billy Eckstine and I, I was just like glued. I sit down downstairs backstage and look to the orchestra, pit society, fingers of piano players and the conductor in an action and our ideas to eat it all up. And now they've come off. And they were, I guess this reason that I have such a connection with young people who are coming up now because so many people were so kind to me when I was young. They really were. They some did not want to know about it because we've gotten to where the social life, you know, it's because kids are very demanding. But Sammy Davis said he'd have earphones. They play his bongos with his earphones, with his t shirt on between shows. And he had lemon drop. He had Bertha with Miles Davis and all this stuff. And when Basie came through, he had a small band because he had no place. He liked to jiggle the molecules a little bit, you know, and he did like to guy play the ponies. And his band, he had to cut down. So he wasn't doing so well. And so he had four horns, the rhythm section, and he had Buddy de Franco, Serge Shel off and Wardell Gray and Clark Terry. And the first time I heard Clark, we was with Charlie Barnett and I almost had a heart attack. I don't think anybody could play like him. And to me, Clark Terry, still the greatest players that ever lived. Clifford Brown. I know Miles Davis was from East St. Louis and he wanted to play with him, too. But Clark, we connected. And I said, Mr. Terry, I'd like to hang out with you and ask you some questions and so forth. He was very receptive to that. And he said just always, let me see your play. I used to play well. I play high notes. I'll put my money on the mouthpiece down here, and if I played too high, my lip would bleed. It's anonymous. You got to put it up here for Scott for reinforcement. So he's correcting and armouries just what to really say. And that's another relationship that never stops. We got he was patient with me then when I was learning how to write and everything else. And I guess six years or so later, I was right before Basie and six years after that, Clark Terry left Duke's band to come with my band. And I mean, that's probably one of the highest musical moments of my life. When he and Clinton Jackson came from Boots man, when we're in Paris in 1959. But Clark is is I mean, to this day, he's Clark, he's 80 years old is to this day, there's not there's not a trumpet player can touch him. He's hasn't changed.
Interviewer: Looking forward to him out in the Hamptons next week.
Quincy Jones: Oh yes.
Interviewer: You know, we're working on we're working that one.
Quincy Jones: Well, that's gonna be great.
Interviewer: I'm going to jump briefly over Hampton and Basie a little bit, because you mentioned Paris. And if you would. Pick us up on the train on the way to Paris the first time you come in and what it represents to you. It's an unbelievable moment.
Quincy Jones: Yes, it was. I never forget that as long as I live. Will just been to Sweden. We bought overcoats. A brand new overcoat on the Tyrolean hat. And it would work with Clifford Brown Day. So we're coming to Switzerland and we train. And I couldn't sleep, so I just got up and got dressed. We're not in the back of the train. And it was about five or five thirty in the morning, and that's we came close to the Paris the sunrise was coming up. And to see Paris like that for the first time and you come in, there's a silhouette of all the landmarks and all the Eiffel Tower and there's some smell of coffee and whatever it was. I'd never expressed anything like that in my whole life. I didn't know what it was. We came in to the train station, then the paladar say, which is now a museum. And we came in at that train station. We stayed at the hotel, the Paladar d'Orsay, and we didn't have any money. So we do four or five of us just to stay together. But I later found out that it was from. That the connection went way back. It's a long story, to Nicholas Linnear will call musicians back there. But I could feel Revelle and all of the people in it with the French music, though, there was just something about that place. And then we saw all the expatriates there like Kenny Clarke and Don Bias and everybody was on it. Richard Wright, it was just amazing. And the 50s were probably. And, you know, it's hard to realize because America has never had its shores invaded like that. But you could tell this was a city that had just come out of Nazi occupation occupations. There was joy. I mean, they were celebrating. They really were. And everybody went, the jazz clubs and big Chief Moore and all these Henry Red Allen, all these people. I had never seen anything like it in my life. And there was this. Somehow I could focus on my past, present and future because the whole black and white thing was off your back. You could feel that off your back right away. I guess so, Europe, because the Cypriots are given a hard time to the Greeks and I mean the Turks and the Swedes, Danes, everything. So they didn't have time to bother with brothers, you know. So we were we were pretty lonesome and free. And it's just you were just taken at face value. And it's just it's just that a great, great effect of my life. And I'm sure that's why I came back so many times and studied with Nadia Boulanger.
Interviewer: Yeah, let's talk about that. You're there in Paris. It's later. What did you learn from her.. Who was she? Most people most people, you know, who are musically oriented won't necessarily know offhand who she is.
Quincy Jones: That's true.
Interviewer: Give us a sense of just how emminent she was and what did she teach you?
Quincy Jones: I need to preface that, Pat. Not my people on the job by saying that we would on a State Department trip with Dizzy Gillespie, his band in South America.
Interviewer: Let's start with that. You get the call. Emanon, Here's your hero. What are you asked to do, and what is that experience with Dizzy in 1956?
Quincy Jones: In 1956 I have done a few record sessions with Dizzy as a sideman. And I was split scuffling in New York and getting a little bit more well-known there. And what I jumped on, two things happened. George Avakian at Columbia Records said, I love heard some of your records. I'd like you to do a jazz record with a track jumper. We have from San Francisco is 17 years old. And he gave me the demo and it was caravan and some things like that. And I wasn't wild in that for a minute. And then Dizzy called and said, I want you to put to organize the band, to write the arrangements have kind of designed the show and be the musical director for a band. And so I had to jump ship and I told George I loved your singing, but I don't think I can do the project. And I gave him the tapes back with Vince, which turned out to be Johnny Mathis. And they did a jazzar with him first. And Bill Evans and the guys at the. Then Mitch Miller took him upstairs. He did. Chances are. And the twelfth of never. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we go overseas and I put the band together, we rehearse and everything else, and now we meet Dizzy. He's on the Jazz at the Philharmonic tour, and we meet Dizzy and Ron. And as we get off the plane, this is there at the airport with his upright trumpet and his plan, sweet Lorraine, because his wife, his wife was on the plane with us. He did that to welcome her out of there. And that's another Wonderland kind of a tour to be with your idol like that and also participating in the rehearsals and the formation. Ban and we travel all over to all over the Middle East, and in a way, we're kind of a kamikaze band because, you know, Adam Clayton Powell asked him to do this tour through the government. It was one of the first State Department tours. So we went to all the trouble spots, man, where there were landmines and the Cypriots in the embassy there. So hurry up and get this is banned over there. And we played in Athens that night, and we've just heard about all of these problems with the riots the day before. And after we finished the concert, they rushed the stage. So this is it, man. This was worried about the students. Same students rushed the stage and they grab busy and we freaked and they put him on the shoulder. It was like they, you know, Dizzy, Dizzy. And it's it was amazing. We went to the airport and coming into Beirut and you had to imagine it gives us like twenty three or something like that. Twenty three years old. And you'd come into Beirut and pleasant Damascus, Syria and others like them. Mars somewhere. Air Force, American Air Force plane comes in. Next to us is John Foster Dulles. And we say, wow, look at that. You know, has 3000 people at the airport said, look at that reception, the six day war. He was gone to Israel or something. And it turns out all the people there for Disney and the countless American emissaries that thought this, it was Dizzy Dean, the baseball player, didn't have a clue. And Pakistan always places Turkey. I met Ahmet. I mean, Irish, Martien and Ankara, Turkey. He eventually came over to be part of Atlantic Records and stuff.There's no experience anywhere in the world like that. None. Greece, Turkey, Iran.
Speaker South America?
Quincy Jones: Yes. That's right. So they were very happy with what happened with us over there. They invited to the White House Correspondents Ball and send us right back out to South America. Let's do some more. We go straight to Buenos Aires, where we go to a nightclub after one of the shows. And there's a young kid in there with eight piece band who sees Desi and levitates Lalo Schifrin, and he calls his big band, throws all as an owner through all the people out of the clubs, calls his big band together. They do a concert for us and we all become very good friends. He tells us about a new movement that's happening in Rio. Is real call of bossa nova. It has another name, man, and he tells us about Astor Piazolla this fantastic bandoneon player and composer was writing the modern jazz tango then, and we became friends with him. And this he recorded with him. We go to Rio. And the first day they interviewed us and ask Benny Golson was my roommate, who we were we'd like to see in Brazil, and they thought it would be the sugar love. We said we want to see Villalobos and guess what? The next day there's a note in our mailbox that at the hotel, Mr. Lobos would like you to come over for lunch the next day without the guest. Father Crawley was a priest, and Benny and I went over and that's another like being on another planet to meet somebody like VillaLobos. He told us that big cigar. He said, that's those seats. See the books in the other room. That's all of European music history and so forth. He said they have closer's books. These guys leave fugue and counterpoint alone. Forget it. Bach has done it very thoroughly. Impressionism, the music, a very funk music is done. He says, if I was 21 years old, I'll be right in Birdland with you guys. And he took us out to places like Skoler, the samba, the sea, the incredible rhythm sections of McLaws. Brazil's won the most musical countries in the world. And Vinicius, Demarai and Dorival came in all these incredible people. And I got to tell you, I've had seven kids. That is, I'd take any of them up two years out of out of university, get them to have that experience, because there's nothing like that. People used to tell me you'd go into a country through the food, the language and the music. And it's so true because they can't pretend with that. You know, the food is whether people hear me, you know. What do they listen to? What are they? That's the stuff in which feijoada. And it's. But toccata dancing is whatever the samba dancing and the Portuguese. It all is all connected. It tastes like. It looks like onomatopoeia. You know, it's it's amazing. And every country we did this would learn the language, the taste. It just there's a shake it so that just see what the soul was. That's how you feel the soul of every country. And it opens up your soul. And after a while, they only go to Asia. You go to Europe, you go to Africa and everything else, and it transforms you as a human being.
Interviewer: That's great. We can use that. You're traveling your whole life.
Quincy Jones: Yes, right. That's right. Still doing it.
Interviewer: But I don't want to miss Nadia Boulanger.
Quincy Jones: Oh, ok I'm sorry.
Interviewer: So who was she? What did she teach you?
Quincy Jones: During the same trip to South America. Lalo, who we've connected immediately. Lalo had everything going. He has soul and technique, everything. And I've always loved that when you when you have soul and science, because all the great musicians, bird, everybody had them. And so he mentions's two names, he mentions Olivier Messiaen. And he mentions Nadia Boulanger when he mentioned her name. I never heard it before, but something inside of me started to hum. Was like his soul started to smile. I don't know why. And became almost like a quest. You said this is mademoiselle. They call her Mademoiselle. She is a very special lady. She's a friend of Ravel's, just one of Stravinsky's mentors. He does everything he does. He brings her. He's the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic. She became like a little resident in my head. And one thing led to this was 1956 or so. The muses were on my side and I got a call from Nicole Barkley in Paris about eight months later that we want like you to come over to Paris to be musical director for Barkley Records. And so all of that, in my mind, tied in with not able to say, like I get to learn to write for strings to New York. I was having a hard time getting past the brand section. And so I went over to Paris for three months, stayed four years, and I went to Nadia Boulanger residence and ruby blue. And you have to audition for recreational rival Brock Grossman tour one time. You know, she turned him down. She said, you know, he had his genius talent for four of four songs and the leaves extended farm alone. And, you know, she's just that kind of lady, you know. And so she said, yes, I'll take him as a student. And I was absolutely thrilled Michelle Graham was studying with at the time. And Daniel Barenboim, all those guys who went to school together at the same time, they felt blessed, too. But she she taught Aaron Copland. She's just absolutely incredible lady that that was like the drawn down of classical music. And she just to have my classes to schedule it in the summertime at Fontainebleau, left the palace there at the end of the day so we could really get into it because I wasn't like I would been corrupted. All right. I'd been in nightclubs, 13, playing the blues. And also I was too late to me to get that formalized. So I'd bring over a great bottle of Beaujolais. And she'd love American canned peaches. So Mel's measurable. We have a connection at the peaks. And I've been subaccount peaches off. We've hang out at night. Well, I got my lesson and she talk about different things about I play Charlie Parker for her. She says it's too late for me. I, I can't deal with that because it's improvisation. If it's improvisation, sometimes it's very good, sometimes very bad. She's very honest. A straight and strong. And we have these these conversations, oh, deep into the night sometimes about what her philosophy was about music and and how melodies always will be king or queen of music and the parameters. Until you set parameters and composition and everything else to know you have no freedom at all. The more you restrict that, the more freedom you have, which is hard for a jazz player to accept, you know. But a lot of things, dozens of things she told me didn't make sense. So sometimes 20, 15 years later and the spirit's still there with me. She's a powerful lady.
Interviewer: She pointed you to work on what kind of music?
Quincy Jones: She sent me back to my roots. She said all American students come over here to write America the Great American Symphony. That's not what I came. I came over there with her to learn, get into analysis and orchestration and counterpoint and everything and composition. Really. Is that what do you think about? Because it's very personal. Composition is very personal. And she said you have the greatest awe in the world and your own style. And that's that's the music that you should you should. You should count. Go go concentrate on and bring up and try to reach out and put another faster. Because she pointed out that the Bach. Because, you know, and still talk about Hungarian folk music and Hungarian folk music, the back talk. I think every every composer, all Russian composers come from. It comes from the folk, the folk or. And it develops. And they take him on up from there. Of the Moldavian music, Stravinsky started with the lights on from the soil first and then it's taken to another place.
Interviewer: We lock you in here.
Quincy Jones: Like by going to heaven. Absolutely in heaven. Because you have to understand that when they came through, all the bands that came through were great. You know, Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Lunsford, basically Woody Herman. I was right there eating every second of it up, just gobbling it up. But Hamp came through, half had something else have actually was the first rock n roll band that ever happened to have went for the throat with a two and four. He was pounded. He would pound until he had everybody totally mesmerized and nailed to the wall. And and it was amazing kind of a dichotomy, because on the other hand, he had all these incredible musicians. I mean, really hot music from I mean, way back he had Mingus now and Wes Montgomery and Fats Navarro, all those guys were in that band. And on the band I was with Jimmy Cleveland and Benny Bailey and the incredible musicians. And was like a family. He had singers. He had Curly Hamner. He had two blues singers, the society of vocal groups. And he was everything, man. It was just like a big traveling, jovial family and musical and just great rasmusson, everything else and excitement. And it's ironic because Joe Glazer. But how. And he also had Louis Armstrong and Duke. And at that time. He had it's like they all do. Said you can't get Hamp unless you take Duke and Basie I mean, and Louis Armstrong. And Hamp was the band. He had we do 71 nitrogen on. Just not even think about it all the time, you know, 700 miles a night. And to me, that was heaven. And in the very beginning, when I was fifteen, I almost got in the band and I got thrown off the van bus.I must have just died. And so she said Gladys Hampel said later, go back to school, get your butt right back to school, and we'll talk later. And sure enough, she did. And this lady, Janet Thurlow, who was in the band, the singer of Suso with the friend of my roommate, eventually, Jimmy Cleveland. And when I was in Boston, the school they call for real. I said, absolutely, I will be there. And I told the school, I'll be right back. And I did go back to Berkeley, was a great school. And that, band, it was Jerome Richardson and and all these guys and the excitement of playing the job every night and traveling. And I would write out eight bars at a time. And then just before we'd go play go on forty five minutes we get in the corner and play these things and test voice things. And it's like workshop and just like a school. It was amazing. Then we went on top of. We went to Europe and by this time before we went to Europe, we had gone to Atlantic City to see the club Harlem to see that Dameron's band who was playing with Larry Steeles revue and in Tadd's band there was Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce and Clifford Brown. And we used to hang out with them. And one night all of us went over to see Tiny Bradshaw who said, Who is that, tell him to play with Tony Bradshaw. It was John Coltrane. And I mean, this was it was fire back then. And we said, Hamp we beg you. I mean, we make seventeen dollars a night, please. No, we couldn't care less about that. We said you got to have these guys in the band take half of my salary, whatever, you know. And so he hired these three guys, the band. Gigi and Clifford went to Europe with us the first time. And we've got to Stockholm totally unaware of how hot the Swedish musicians were because they. We came from Oslo on on the on the on the train. Gladys had parrots used to carry parrots around, you know, and we got held up on the strangler's. They won't let theses parrots throughs custom. So by the time we finally got through and got and came in to Stockholm on a baggage cart was an accordion player. This is Bengt Holberg, who just recorded with Stan Getz and Miles in Stockholm. And all those great songs seem on Brehm Band. Okay, person. Lars Gullin, I think Danny Varly, the most incredible horn sound ever heard in my life. And this is what is what is this all about? Because I thought all of the action was going to be in Spain and France and Italy and all the Swedes blew himself. I couldn't believe it. And so a very accurate for Metronome Records said we'd like to do a record session here. And he said, I don't know. Is right up some for arrangement's or something and gave me five dollars an arrangement with Ed to sneak out because Hamp didn't want us to record. And so we have to sneak out the back steps at one o'clock to try to go to the sessions. What we didn't know was about the midnight sun. So we're sneaking out at midnight, one o'clock, having one of one o'clock in the morning. The sun comes up and the guys that were looking out for us that we've got to sneak up. They caught us on the elevators, a couple of the stairways a couple of times. But we recorded with Clifford Brown, Art Farmer and all the Swedish all stars like Lars Gullin.
Interviewer: Is that when you recorded Midnight Sun and Star?
Quincy Jones: That was this was before that this midnight sun was 1958. This was 1953.. This is songs of Stockholm, Sweden. I'm falling in love with love and skills. This was unbelievable. Unbelievable. I mean that the time I remember it like it was just last week.
Interviewer: That way we can que, that song perfectly. Well, you know, you get a chance to do your own baby with free and easy read. Again, it's a very complicated backstory. Broadway music, whatever in all those different elements that set up the opportunity presented to you.
Quincy Jones: Well, we had this dream. I don't know how we could have been that presumptuous... We go we get this amazing band that we would be involved in onstage and costumes, even speaking roles and. And we would go over with herel necklace at first and break, can you track Holland and Amsterdam then and then Brussels and then Paris and then meet Sammy Davis in London and take it to Broadway for two years. I mean, at that time, I didn't know what what kind of a fantasy that was. It sounds like a good idea, though. So Clark, again, Clark Terry and Quentin Jackson left Duke's band and came and joined us and we rehearsed. And it's a small the most smoking bans I've ever heard in my life. And everything went as planned. Up until we got to Paris. We went the Alhambra Theater, and it was during the Algerian crisis. We got in trouble. And, you know, people were at that time. And in the front of the Herald Tribune, they have a little square at the bottom every day. Remind you all soire skin peoples stay home to stay off the street after six o'clock because it was really rough then you know. What would happen as Algerians sometimes would go by police stations, spray down automatically so the return fire of their people and ask questions. Those days I used to go see art seminars. I got in the car like that because I've got there as soon as I got out. I heard the machine gun cocked, you know, and I mean, it's just one flinch. And, you know, it's over. It was that dangerous over there then. And so the show folded. And we got a notice on Thursday night, I think was a Thursday. And the producer, Stanley Chase, says, I'm sorry, but we can't make it. We're not gonna see Sammy and Dave two days from now. We'll be the transfer guarantee transportation to go home. And I was young and foolish and headstrong and said that this is a great band. We're going to make it. And so we had a midnight concert on that Saturday anyway. So we couldn't I wasn't until at a concert and I got one more concert. We blew it, blew the plane. And here I am with 30 people. And I made 10 piece band with the Phil Woods, Sam Parker was Charlie Parker's wife. And we have Charlie Parker son there, Bird Parker and Cameron dogs and families and wives and everything else. That's what I've done here. And I had a payroll to make every week in order that these guys are forty four forty eight hundred five thousand dollars and I don't have a cent and no manager, no agent, nothing. And so we went for it. So we went to we played the, the plane, the train left plane left the county transportation home. We played the concert, Daniel Filipacchi and Frank to no great guys, the jazz magazine and a radio show, midnight concert at the Olympia. And it was just a smash success. We took a chartered a plane. Well, I had I had nerves of steel to Stockholm and I had talked to some little young promoters who came to me and said, I want to book 16 dates. Savannah said, do it, man. That's what we need it now badly. And so we went to Stockholm, came back then. Another sounds complicated, but this is what happened. The movie director, Lars, still on the right move is better. Worse than anything that mean come close by then. So Jack to me says I'm making a picture not which is all the on the calls with a young girl named Uncomfy. And I like it. Just all of the others said, yeah, I've got all these people in Paris. Right. I take a train over to mount that morning. I see the picture of me and I unhook and everything else, and I see problems in the picture because they'd recorded a song that had no melody on it and everything else. And I didn't know about prerecorded until something was wrong, but I didn't know enough to know what to do. So I want to do it. I come back to Paris. The promoters are supposed to have booked all of our dates, got the advances to the dates and left town as simply as stranded in Paris. More money and thirty people and I call a shock to me back up and say, man, you know I have that I want to do this. But I said I'm in trouble. I got to take my babies first and I've got to take care of them. And I said, but I have a friend who studied with me and that we're not able. I say, his name is Michelle McGraw and he's the best. And he was he did that film. And the next film was Umbrellas of Cherbourg. After that, I always kid used to Kid Jack and said could have an umbrella of Harlem because Michelle did that with the dove, with the blue stars. It was all operatic. And meanwhile, back in the ranch with the van, we go through a series of ten months of the most incredible experiences I've ever seen in your life through Yugoslavia. Ten, thirteen citizen Yugoslavia walking across bridges where the bridge is about the fall down if we stay on the bus. And that's unbelievable. I mean, we were everywhere, folk parks in Sweden. I put them on a plane, on a train, a slow train from Spain. After we finish, Portugal and Spain stay up all night doing the payroll where Phil would see me in Germany for some marks and Sahab sees me Swiss francs. And and so then he valences me in Belgium and so and Swedish kroner and we get to Spain and I have to translate part of to convert all that money into what it is and to change it and it placentals I mean, it was enough to take you out, really. And so one time when I was in the States, Andy Williams said he wanted to do an album with me. And we worked the Steve Allen show. And so I remembered that. And we weren't such travelers. And it we really need the money, you know, let's do the album now. And I put my band, whole band on a slow train to Yugoslavia and flew to Paris with Billy Byers and the couple other people, and we knocked that album out. Dave Grusin was his musical director and husband David. I first met this was 1959, I think 60. And we got to Yugoslavia before the band got together. And we were stuck with that. We had the money, about sixty thousand dollars that we made from the tour. But it did mean it was a communist country. And I had bought train tickets out of Yugoslavia all over Germany and speculation that if we got a job there, we could have get reimbursed for the money it was. You can't believe it's like a B movie. It was sort of so funny. And then that cold call us and the Rama grants to do a trip with them. And just.
Interviewer: Ultimately, you had to give up.
Quincy Jones: Oh, yeah.
Interviewer: What happened?
Quincy Jones: What I got. I was so tired. Billy Taylor was remotely involved with this because the man he had introduced me to, the publisher, Charlie Handsome and Irving Green, they said, I'm I've got to come home because I was injured. And your track would not do track of Fenlon. I can't remember the name of the city. And I was registered to throw myself in. I just couldn't handle the pressure anymore because he was performing on payrolls around the book and everything else that would just take them people to take about taking their own life. It's not about us. It's just about 15 minutes apiece. Get some rest for a while. That's why you shouldn't do anything drastic. You can't change your mind. But I was that close and. And I called to Irving Green and sold my publishing companies and so forth them and got everybody collected. And we finally got on the USS United States and brought them home. And we would buy in Copenhagen before we left to see Oscar Pettifer, who who passed as we all were on the way back and who's a good friend of mine. And we came back to the States and we played no basis treaties with Peggy Lee and Johnny Ray, Billy Eckstine on the film.
Interviewer: And the bottom line was you were you owed a lot of money.
Quincy Jones: Oh, absolutely.
Interviewer: Just very briefly, you owed money and what you had to do?
Quincy Jones: Well, I had the Irving Green said, come work here as an agent, our man at Mercury Records, and you can sit here while you recoup and and have a place to to, a nest really. And then he paid us and made me vice president a year later. And he says, I want to show you about the other side of the business, because this the music business and just you good now. You know, you have to learn that part because I was not into that at all. I just knew about the music and the aesthetic side that said that's gonna pull us through. I mean, please, we got slaughtered with the mumps.
Interviewer: I'm going to jump around a little bit.
Quincy Jones: OK? I'm doing the same.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. One quick adjustment of the cameraman because we're all searching for perfection.
Quincy Jones: This is funny because of the book. I feel like we just plowed through so many years and hours and nemesis some amazing feeling that I never, ever look back on my life, ever. I love that book, but pushes you back there.
Interviewer: It's a great book. From what I read, I haven't read the whole thing, but it's really compelling.
Quincy Jones: It's like looking at somebody else's life.
Interviewer: Clarence Avant.
Quincy Jones: Is he a trip? Banana peels.
Interviewer: Okay. You ready? We can't tell your story without touching your work with Michael Jackson. Tell me to jump to that very briefly how you met him. And what do you think accounted for the huge appeal of Off The Wall?
Interviewer: Well, I met him initially at Sammy Davis house when he was 12, and that was just a quickie. You know, they had just done the Ed Sullvian Show.. And fast forward. He comes over to my house. After Sidney Lumet, we decided that I wanted to be the musical director for The Wiz. And we've got to always in a musical, you have to prerecord everybody. Diana Ross, Michael and Lena Horne and all these people about six principles. And so when Michael came to the door, you know, it must be an 18 and 19. And the first thing he said to me was, could you help me find a producer because I'm doing a solo. My first solo album was next solo album on Epic Records. So, Michael, that vibe that we can't talk about that now we have pre-record to do. Let's try to do that. I don't even have the song in the picture right now. Let's get that first things first. And he finally got You Can't Win. And we did a prerecording. During rehearsals I saw the blocking at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn. Sidney Lumet's rehearsing them. And he's the scarecrow. He pulls up his sayings by Confucius that are that all these great philosophers is the about about it. But that Socrates. So crazy every day he said that nobody was correcting him so I went to assess Michael before it becomes a habit. You know, it's Socrates. And he said and his eyes lit. His eyes were wide like that. And I had been watching him rehearse and I saw I've never seen anybody so disciplined. You had to put his makeup on at five o'clock in the morning for the scarecrow. So he knew everybody's song in a show. He knew every dance step in every line of dialogue of everybody's. I never seen anything like it in my life, you know, as such as my bright alert mind and so much talent dance and forget about. But he was amazing. And I when you mentioned producer, I was thinking about all the things, the love and the bubble gum stuff and Motown. But I said not as much more to him as a lot of lot of things in him that haven't been exposed before. And so when he said really after Socrates, I said, I'll be a producer and I'd like to do that. I'd like to take a shot at his record company. Didn't want to know about it because they said Quincy is too jazz. He's only done the brothers, Johnson, blah, blah, blah, blah. But back Michael and very demanding. And Ron was as managers went back and Quincy is doing records record. And so we did. I went to picked the songs as I feel the producers biggest job is to get the right material. Half of your job is not if you got to write songs. So of seeing that he wrote those don't stop to get enough. He wrote Working Day and night. I had a track that the brothers Johnson done and he wrote the melody to that and get on the floor and we got up Stevie Wonder's I Can't Help It. And we made the record. And it was as pure as it could be. We just made a record that we liked. You know, that's the best way to do it. Other people would do fine, because if you're trying to figure out what people like, I don't want to do that. And it was the people that said that was the wrong choice. It was one of the biggest black records that came out. I've come out of all that ever been out that time. I think 10 million albums, eight million albums. And we went on from there and did Thriller and Bad.
Interviewer: Maybe I misheard you but you said the biggest black album?
Quincy Jones: Selling, biggest selling black alubum.
Interviewer: Yeah. Does Thriller become a black album. Is that a crossover album? What accounts for the success of Thriller.
Quincy Jones: That's when I first came in with The Mercury has me and our man. I said, what is the jazz record? And they said, a jazz record is any record. It sells under 20000 when it gets past thousands. Not not no longer jazz records. And that's like, Michael, you can't call Thriller a black record, you know, or off the wall. But it's nonsense anyway. It really is. Because that the categories. That's what that's where you really hit my Achilles heel. And I guess Duke and the guys trained me to that because Duke, the last words he said to me, he wrote down on a picture when I produced a special families is he says, may you be the one to continue to Deek categorize American music. And I. Because I really feel strongly about that hate categories. Because it means that people are limited to their Vion. Right. You know, of and limited to what they can express.
Interviewer: But tell me a little bit about making Thriller. I think something about a speaker. It was so hot making Thriller there was problem with the speaker. What was that?
Quincy Jones: Oh, at the end the thriller got pretty frantic because we had four. We were aiming at four months to make Thriller in the process. So I was I had just met Spielberg and we became really close friends. He was making E.T. and I was doing Thriller and we got just enamored of each other. It's a lesson turnage that he gave me a viewfinder. I gave him a synthesizer. He'd come over to the throne steps as I go over to Laird. And at that time, they would call it his slime head west because the first one that they made, the first model they made it to, they had it to go back and do it again. Does he look like a little brother? No, sir. We give him blue eyes a second time. And so Spielberg said one son, Michael, would should do a song. It is like the biggest picture in the world. And we haven't released really yet. Now, he said, would you do a song for us for a storybook version of E.T.? So you have to convert to our visual experience and to a 40 minute aural experience and then make people feel the same thing. So he said, do the song. We did it with Rod Temperton and the Madeline Marilyn Bergman and Michael. He loved it. But little did we know he was. Let's say, would you guys please do the whole thing? Steven, we've got to do really, you know. And they came over with all it is footsteps and dialogue. And Johnny was risking everything else. And that's really structurally. You have to do a village structure. And so we did that in about six or eight weeks and we only had two months left for Thriller and we got trapped ourselves in a way, because we ever stop one project and go record Paul McCartney and Michael to put the first single out the girl is mine so that tails wagging the dog there. That that single was time to govern the release and what our progress was about. Once we said we were in a studio, we was on the implosive being finished, that breakfast going up my back and it's pumping up and about number two and weirdness last week of a recording. By this time, I've got three studios gone. Got Van Halen and wants to help out here. And Michael's over here with cylindrical tubes on Beat It. Somebody was in another studio. And the last day we were putting on bass lines to beat it would drag filling gains. And some of the guys from Total. And Bruce comes into the studio screaming, you know, and he was mixing beat it. Great speaker was in flames. I've never seen that. But a stimulus sonic. I guess that's that's a lot of power now. And the physics, really. And it was in flames. And we at 9:00, we put everything on, all the elements on. And we know we were were were in trouble because nobody wanted to make the song shorter. And we had a long road Templeton song. Billie Jean was twice as long because of an intro. Mike Michael said, That's the jelly that makes you want to dance, which was Shut us up right away. Now we get Bruce within and Rod and I, we're not dancers now. So nine o'clock, we put it down, all finished. And then Bruce is going to take it and mastered putting on a disc so we can hear it. What's gonna go out to the public? I'd take Michael to my house, put him on a couch and put a blanket on him. And we've got to get back up at twelve o'clock as nine in the morning in three hours. We got to get back up and listen to this. Does this advance acetate this? Is this what we want, knowing we had problems and we walked back in there. Larken Arnold is there was one executives with champagne pouring ready. Oh this is great. We finally have the record. And it sounded awful because vinyl in those days, you had our big rules, especially that kind of stuff. We were recording because we had a lot of we used a lot of sympathy time called connecting all the tracks. So we had a lot of a lot of tapes now. And we had squashed we had 28 minutes aside. And you have to have 19 minutes so you can have bigger grooves if you put twenty eight. They become very tiny and squished together. And it was a disaster. Michael's crying and everything else. And so we decide to take two days off and come back and do one a day. And that's when it came out and the pay off cut off a piece of a village in order to cut a verse out of a lady in my life and that baby and like, laid it right in the pocket. And that's the one who did it was the exciting, exact exciting journey was considered just exploded. It was ridiculous. And I had no idea that would be bigger than off the wall. It's just amazing.
Interviewer: What did you have fun nickname for Michael Jackson? Describe, you know, like working with him?
Speaker Michael was. We called Michael, Smelly because see that he never said bad words. And in that group, that was hard to do. He said smelly jelly for something good, you know, so we'd say call him smelly and his mother just look at us like crazy. What he called my son smelly. That smell bad. We didn't mean that, though. And he's that is is really a cross between a sixty year old wise man and a child. He really is. He's got the most incredible combination of because the wisdom is just awesome and way beyond his years, like he's been here three or four times. And the other side is like you've just never seen anything before. I mean, when I used to play songs to me, sometimes in my my home, I'd sit on my couch. I wouldn't have that put my hands over my eyes and he would sit on the other side of the couch with his back to me to sing me the song. Twenty, twenty and ninety thousand people. No problem. But that's the way I have to listen to this. Yes. He really was so shy, you know, has to have to do with Frank DiLeo, a lot of his press conferences for him. But he is the most was the most professional and lives. You stand in front of that Mike until he dropped it. Does it take the lights down and he dances almost. So what he was doing a concert, get all the way into the song. And he he would really do his homework. And I really respect that. There's nothing worse than having to sing on their own album. Come in with a piece of paper with the words on it. That means they've got to think more than they feel, or at least 50/50. But when they've got it, they can close their eyes and tell and camels the same way. When they close their eyes, you know, they got it here instead of here. And Michael had it. He did it. He did his homework.
Interviewer: Back on the block. Jumping ahead again, very important for you for a lot of reasons. Hey, help us understand your concept of the rising from hip hop. My brother and parents don't really know bebop or hip hop. You know, just explain that in a way. So they so they understand. They understand. As you know, music, people get that. They tell us why that's a real for you or really important.
Quincy Jones: Back on the Block. It was like it was a fusion. My thing has always been like, I don't know, the father's trying to pull all the kids back into the family. You know, they've run that run away from home. Pull them all back in the family because back on the block was about my origins and all the jazz and bebop and that African music. And we were then doing things in Zulu gospel, mainstream jazz of RB, rap, everything. Now, my son was an absolute rap junkie from day one. He was a breaker in a group called Berzerker Sweden when I was 14. It was like they were big stars and all as breakdancers. And oh, it was. Let me say this as a key. When I first met, I took my son to meet Russell Simmons. I think the first records that came out of Def Jam, we went down at Def Jam. Russell had some most elegant Fred Sanford looking offices and he had my Adidas has just come out with a DMC and the orange juice Jones walking in the rain. That was the first day, I think, on all the guys with Beastie Boys and all of all the people on the label. And LL Cool is fifteen. And this is this was this was significant. He said to me, Mr. Jones and I heard that a long time because he was engaged to my daughter for while. Mr. Jones. What do what do the singers and the the musicians think of us?
Interviewer: Go back to what? Let's reframe. Pick up the phone refrain now that you've giving us a heads up on. Mr. Jones, right from there.
Quincy Jones: Mr. Jones. He says, What do the singers and musicians think about us? And that's the first actually the first time I ever realize. And they're right that they consider themselves the third entity. I never thought outside of that box because I didn't think of them as suckers. We were we were playing around with the rap or whatever you want to call it in 1975. And if you remember, Mellow Madness, we had a group on there called the Watch Profits, which were like along with the last poets and just got here. And I mean, before any of that stuff can also within you know, we were playing with what that was around that era. And I know Harvey Mason was playing like hip hop drumbeats on it then. And I think Rapper's Delight was out when 79 and Russell started about 85. So we were on the path, not on a whole other thing. That connection would be pop and hip hop was, I guess, kind of subliminal. They come from the same place. Bieber came from a very pure place. It came organic growth and it didn't have the acceptance that hip hop did at all because it was certainly a subculture. And but the similarities. No. One. They both brought a vernacular to the same. They brought a lifestyle that brought on body language. And everything is very hip hop has acted. A certain way of it is not what black normal people in all if they had a hold of a thing. Just like hip hop. And it was it was across the board. Hip hop even goes further because it has graffiti. It has visuals and everything and slang because rock and roll and bring with slang to the table. They're still using cool. And that came from that to be bop days. And far out of whatever, you know. But it hiphop was they've jumped all the way and they put a lot of old school stuff in there. Homeboys Lester Young and Basie were calling each other home homeboy, you know, 50 years ago. And I always felt that there was. They played for each other first. Rappers do rap for each other first, then. Now it's about the Benjamins and all that. I mean, they've gone after the money, but in the beginning, they were doing it for each other, you know? Now, I've been around a lot of the old seasonal Liko Melly, Mel and the dudes that started the whole thing. Kurtis Blow. And now it's I feel the similarities of the alienation and a sense of their purpose couldn't get radio play, that's for sure. And the same thing happened would be Bob. So they're going to have to get street teams and get a whole different kind of distribution mindset to get it gone. Explain to your brother. I would say that also the improvisation was never parallel, that similar thing that they had gone because people have a hard time realizing that jazz musicians take the cards, too. I'm in the mood for love and they play totally spontaneous expressions on melodies and so forth. So Moody's mood for evidence things came from James Moody reacting to the chord change, some in the mood for love. And then another person, Eddie Jefferson, comes and Jimmy McCue. Dorothy Fields write the original song. They use those cards and they he plays a jazz solo on it. And Eddie Jefferson writes the lyric to his improvised solo. There I go. There I go. There I go. There I go. And. And it becomes something called vocalese. So it's it's like the cell division or something. And hip hop is the same thing. I mean, I've worked with about, I don't know, a couple of dozen hip hoppers and I've sent like a do with singers. I'm used to sending tapes so they can get familiar with the material. A week or two before the session doesn't mean a thing was heavy D, Ice T. I said you listen to the tape. No. Let me hear it played back in the studio one time. They sit and write in ten minutes. You know this record two takes. Done, rhythmic and everything. The most creative dudes I've ever seen. Just like me boppers and totally improvised. It's so. It's awesome really. And I've worked one side and I know in other that they did not play around. And it doesn't take long. I mean, they're fast in a sense. They've been a lot of lives improvising solos from just instrumentals.
Interviewer: That album also came at a time where, you know, after all these huge successes, moments of self-examination. And that was like jumping into the void again, wasn't it?
Quincy Jones: Yes it was. It's a combination. I mean, you know, everything that happens at that time, we'd been off to the 80s with everything you could possibly imagine from, you know, Benson and Michael Jackson We Are The World, The Color Purple. I'd just jump straight into because I think when your thing is happening is when you should take all the most chances, you know. And so I came straight out of all of that, which is couldn't have been any better to say. I want to really learn how to make movies. Well, under the best people with the best people out. And so with Steven Spielberg is one definitely one of the best. And I was by his side for two years and nothing else. I didn't even listen to radio. And it's the most incredible growth and expense I've ever felt outside of music, because there's so many ways it's the same thing because he he thinks like a musician, too. I mean, he drive me to work every morning in North Carolina and we'd talk about everything from his influences to what John Ford told him about lighting when he was a kid. How what how how do you learn lighting? He said, look at the look at the painter's. Look at Rembrandt. Look, it's his art, you know, Monet. And that's that's what natural life is all about. And we just there was does this cross paralyzation of each other's minds. Which I really like a.. And he would come to essentially. Said we have a certain foundation like Knottiest said, you know, that was only could be so bad musically and then you start to stretch out and experiment and try other things. I said that's just the way I worked, too, because I set up a scene with each team and we do it. And once we get the one that's like the missionary position. A way of doing it. Then we go and stretch out and freak out and child different other things. And that's why I'm doing done and put it his head up here. Do that. Try that. And there's this incredible similarity there. And I don't know, it's it's like it's like it was like that's assault when we got on the plane on the way to. We did three weeks of interiors, the juke joint stuff, because Max's Amy Irving was having his son Max and had to wait for his birth three days after Max was born. We want the plants in North Carolina. I mean, it's amazing to 90 degree weather and mosquitoes and water, cottonmouth, water moccasins. And I've said to Steven that they would with what kind of scope was he looking at? Because he no Aedes Mashal in the picture take his own life. And he said To Kill a Mockingbird. That picture went into Gone with the Wind. I mean, in three days, it just took it just take its own life. And I remember Stephen. He holds us this spring in his mouth when he becomes the size of action. I bringing this problem down. It's just amazing. And I'll never forget the shot. I'm loaded. Remember when they had the wagon with the two lanterns on the side? They were bringing sugar up in the rain. Why? Stephen was like he was on another planet. He was so into that. And I just saw that he just let it go on. And it just was total in charge of that what that was about. That's when you see him at his highest peak of creativity.
Interviewer: How did you help find the stars.
Quincy Jones: We were talking about people. And at that time, Steven had about four or five pictures that could have been made, including Schindler's List. And always he had Peter Pan, which obviously turned into a hook of quietly. We felt that whoever got it right the quickest, you know, was that someone Steven would go with, you know, because it took a lot of guts for him to go with Color Purple. After that success of Raiders and closing comments, all the things he had out because there was no I alem special effects. There's some black people walking around on the ground. No, no, no special effects at all. And I was glad to see him jump in like that. He jumped in very sincerely.
Interviewer: When it came time to choosing.
Quincy Jones: Why you'd do that? What does that do? Oh, that's cute. It's like little kids.
Interviewer: Okay, so you're going to produce your first Hollywood picture.
Quincy Jones: No, this was not a huge Hollywood picture at all. No. I mean that there was never cardboard never came up in that at all. Even though Steven Spielberg was involved and I was never was talked about as whole. Big Hollywood picture our budget for that picture. At first was 11 million dollars. That's not a big Hollywood picture at all. And we finally squeaked up and fought for 14 million lives cause 14 million dollar fiction. That's not a big picture at all. You can't even find a picture today for 14 million.
Interviewer: Oh, let me rephrase that. It's your first experience as a producer on a feature.
Quincy Jones: OK. OK. OK. Oh, I hear you. Oh yeah. OK.
Interviewer: A big step for you. One of the big jobs you have is trying to figure out the best people for these parts.
Quincy Jones: Right.
Interviewer: Tell me about that position.
Quincy Jones: Well, we we went through a long process to try to find writers, and we finally found M.A. as a sort of he understood what was going on. And Stephen guided everybody through it because Steven saw this site. He it just kept coming and interstitial, I think, to see directors think about interstitial stuff for a single weather dog, perhaps in the back of Woop, his garden going to elephant prints in Africa and all that kind of stuff. And I understand that. Then there was talk about Diana Ross and of talk about Richard Pryor and so forth. And so we all agreed that that is definitely a picture as powerful as this is, because it was a. There were letters we had to transfer that epistolary premise to a narrative which is very difficult to do, but the spirit was there and that the most powerful inspired story you could ever ask for from Alice Walker. And so we started to talk about with believe and feel very strongly. We needed people that came to the screen with no baggage and no meant no other associations at all. So the really we call them, The Color Purple People and Alice told us about about this lady who was woken up in San Francisco with her mom, Snavely, one and one woman show, etc., and we brought her down to two Amblin to check out one night. That was funny because we had Pryor and Michael valid, and it's Nicole, Astron Simpson, everybody. And we're sitting in the theater and would be come from behind the scene around the world and rumors of some bad words in it. And she locked us out with a one woman show. She was definitely I mean, it was like divine of what she did that night. Stephen was just that when she knew that was it, that was Celie.And then in the midst of this, while we're casting I get a call from Michael Jackson asked me, do I have to go to Chicago to help them fight the case against plagiarism, which was totally bogus because they're the same guys who sued the bridges. It was just a scam. And I would laureate's I'm a writer, and so I'm very unhappy with this because we're trying to get it done right. And so I think that CBS playing up there and I can't sleep and are restless. And so I turn on the TV set at nine fifteen. I see this face. I mean, it just slapped me. I was just so hard. And I just and mostly I didn't know whether she could act. I don't know who she was. I couldn't pronounce the name or anything. And so is that, you know, but I said that whoever it is that that is that's Sophia. No, there was no doubt about it. And and we got the tape. And when the the the cosmic aspect of her name background spell spelling, Harpel was just really freaky. And I sent the tape back to Mount Rubin, Canada, to give to Stephen and Stephen. We call Alice down because we wanted to hurt Alice. The sound of everything else was funny cause we were both afraid to stay in a room. Images. We know she was hot and everything else from Alice came back and Alice was crying and plotting and everything else. And No. One Saturday, Stephen call all the principals to the Amblin and just see it on camera and minimizing myself from the room. And they take two lines and improvise with all the people. I've just sent over a tape on this because it was really amazing. And see Whoopi and Danny Glover and her and Emma Willard improvised the lines and about well when Oprah picked us. But you know, his assistant, you got to be there. He's got to be that stuff. He came back and said the mule did that. I got her but the mule did this. Mule kicked him in the eye and know that from that moment on, you know, we knew these sort of people to do this picture. And now Oprah wasn't even on the marquee. And she they remember Jeffrey Jacobs on the set of them in North Carolina, along with the King brothers. They said if she gets a nomination, they gonna do the biggest blitz ever in television. And they did. I think it's the eighth of a page on every page of TV Guide. The rest is history. And, man, she can handle it. To say there's no end to her, none is that she's been blessed by something divine. She really beyond even her own comprehension, really.
Interviewer: Another guy who was blessed in a way I can't even touch comes out of a TV show you produced based on Benny Medina's story. Again very briefly how does that happen? You just decide to make a TV show? This is a good premise. And I gonna pick this guy. I read in your book something about your belly button. How does that happen?
Quincy Jones: Well, you know, it's it's you have a lot of choices with everything you know or does with the people come to you with with stories and scripts and songs all the time you know, if we get eight hundred and fifty tapes a week with 12 songs on it, and I tell you the truth. I have never, ever had fifty five, seven years, whatever it is in the record business ever once got a tape that worked, unsolicited tape. I get tapes from other pros that somebody like Russ Titelman sent me a tape of a great song called Just Once, and the singer on there was a piano player with the Coasters and Ray Charles it was James Ingram. That's. But that's from a pro. Well, I've never I never got an unsolicited. Buried at work and now this. Benny told me about the story. It was found that if the person it happened with was a friend of mine, it was in Duckula projecting Franzblau when I was in France and Jack Elliott. So I understood. That's see it and feel it when he told me about it. It was it was a great premise. And now I think the last eight minutes of a meeting we were having with with Brandon Tartikoff and Warren Littlefield at NBC and then it came in the fall in the story. And it was funny because when we were doing then, it was they had a black music at Warner Brothers and we were out doing Arsenio Hall's show. We had everybody, Tevin Campbell to all the rappers, iced tea and everything else on Back on the Block, which we'd done on the show that night and leaving the premises that night. I think Will was asking Benny. I mean, that's see, that's how the connections like that happen. You don't even know why that happened. And he was asking Benny how to get to the farm or something like that. So Benny ended up getting the video of I think the parents just don't understand. An adult just sort of fell into that thing and. And Will, you know, but, you know, they they they have to bring it home. You know, it's all. All of it is a part of the other thing. And I and I really believe in the divinity of all that. I really do. I think once you start saying that you are a cause and manifestation, you get in trouble because. Because cause is God's job. And it's it's a good personal that you stay with. And. But but Will the first day on the set. He didn't even know which camera to look at. He learned he learned so fast because he pays attention and it goes without saying what happened. You know, he was very wise in his choices and over James Lacerda and Benny and all of us working with him to pick the right movies to do during his hiatus. The first was like a 15 minute cameo and made in America with Whoopi and Ted Danson. It was you have to be cool. Take your time. Because if matters in a hurry now, you know, fifteen minutes, then a picture that takes a lot of discipline. The second one was six degrees of separation, which I know about because we were trying to get the rights. We went. Alec Baldwin was then it hit. John Gorrie in New York went to see that we tried to get the right to sell And then he did bad boys. And then he did Jesus what? Independence Day men in black robes over and we were out. So to see Courtney Russell weekend, Steven Spielberg lives down the road. We saw Will, they're all over.
Interviewer: What about, when I think of the major events, the 90s and the turn of the millennium. I think about the Academy Award, producing that show show and I think about the Millennium Concert.
Quincy Jones: And then the millennium. I mean, the inauguration.
Interviewer: Oh, and the inauguration. Walk me through that inauguration show and moments there that very briefly, the Oscar show, which had to be a departure. Was done music directing the 70s, I guess.
Quincy Jones: That's right.
Interviewer: But then there's something about the way America chose to celebrate the millennium. The fact that you were chosen by the president to you know, that's an emblematic moment for our country. What did you try to do?
Quincy Jones: Well, you know, it's it's it's I don't know if psychologically that that one was was a trip, because being pious is that whatever this scheme to me, it felt like a big abstract wall that we crossed a line that we crossed on. It was everything was built around that. I remember even after we was conceived with George Stevens and Spirit and Steven Spielberg of what we were going to try to do. We had Clinton was going to do a speech said that at the midnight moment and his speech was supposed to end just in time. First, we would then have a child him give the tortured Chabert that Secret Service wouldn't let him go down there because he had to be in the crowd. And so we had to cue. After he finished his speech, the que, the torch lit the fuse that went all the way down that path and then hit blocks and implements and increments of like 50 feet each tional the come down. Tremendous timing and all computerized timing. And our president was it was it was it was very emotional speech and the timing of that time. I remember I was sitting next to Teddy Kennedy. They that everybody was talking, but I didn't hear anybody say a word because I was just word about that time, because we can go back and say, look, we have to look over again. You've got to hit midnight and there's no "oops" room in this. You've got to really hit that right. So the stuff was on on the on the monitor computerized. And we had to accelerate and to keep it. So it was totally time and move it up at that time. So he had to speak a little faster so we could hit those hit those marks and some working backwards from that. And the whole idea was try we had much we had a much more ambitious plan for us. But all those plans cost a lot of money. We were running around the last 10 days to get four million dollars. It was amazing. And they had great people, like a good man with a teleprompter, Corian, Tommy Hilfiger, Jerry Perenchio and John Chambers. They gave it up, man. I mean, no nonsense. And 20 seconds each. And they were there because we we couldn't have unions in 2001. You can't you can't just mumble into that. You've got to have all that stuff. You know, with fireworks and stuff, it's it's not about subtlety because it's too big enough. I mean, we didn't have the Eiffel Tower, which system. But it was it was amazing moment. And I felt the same about the inauguration we had. The inauguration was amazing because we had turned a precedent around music that was like a second very show, the Lincoln Memorial. So the big one was the following Tuesday was 20000 people in black tie. And we were determined to change that, that whole pattern. And we just when the Clintons first said to do the show, I said, let me see what happened. The last time I saw Bush and Quayle walked down the steps. And it comes from the Beach Boys and only about a scratch and laid back and lives, as I thought, will do better. I mean, we can blow it up more than that. You know, it was just very laid back along. And I mean, we ended up with my garters, as I said that day. It was so emotional. And it just I remember Jack Nicholson crying and unknown Jackson before his arrival. And I seen see Jack cry very often. And we were doing the ode to the common man, the Lincoln. So what we call it the Kornblum thing, Ports of Lincoln. And it was every James Olmos, James Jones, Oprah and Nicholson and everybody showed will be just, you name it, Aretha. The glory has to find everybody shodan liberals or something. I'll never forget. There was this and they've cut back and forth to the president and he knew every word of all of the famous speeches we had. I have a train with Dr. King and that's not what you can do for your country with at the last minute, it was trying to get the Kennedy Kennedy representatives to follow Jack's clip on. We have done the wonderful Dr. King clip and we ended up with L.L. Cool. I'm finally following it, which is protests in the 50s, a protest, the night is small. A lot of people on some of the committees weren't happy about that, but LL took it out. LL rocked that crowd that day.
Interviewer: Do you think you connect with Bubba, President Clinton because of the music background. What is your connection?
Quincy Jones: The human being? I loved the human being.
Interviewer: Sorry, just give his name upfront.
Quincy Jones: President, former President Clinton. It was just a communication on a level is this is his that he connects with people. You know, I've been gone to the White House since I was 18. Lionel Hampton, we played for the inauguration for Dwight Eisenhower. And I remember I stayed around that night. Everybody said Miles Davis is coming as it was 1952. And some fellow 60 year old dude said, Miles Davis is coming. That's it, man. This is great. And I was Miles Davis was the slightly better please. But I've never and I've never connected with anybody like him. It's just that Steve is very real. Hillary Clinton to the just Chelsea, the great, great.
Interviewer: What did he want from the millennium? You remember him around and he said, this is what I.
Quincy Jones: It was Hillary. It was him. A lot of hit Hillary. Hillary is the one who calledus about that. And she's said Honor. What was that honor the past and did with the future and look to the future and that's what it was about. Because we've gone through a lot of things and it's you know, the funny thing about it really was that the premise was, is to look back and take the best of what we had the 20th century, bring that with us and leave all the rest of that garbage back there. You know, don't bring that baggage to the next century because we have not we have enough troubles and all the problems. And I think that was everybody's editor of the wonderful film that Steven made and everything else. So that's what that was about. Because we know this is an amazing country. It really is. So you don't believe it should go to some other places and see?
Interviewer: Let me jump back to something that we skipped over. 1974 Something happens to you that changesyour life entirely. It's something and very few people survive. Speak to me about that experience if you would.
Quincy Jones: I have been working very hard for two, three days, and I went to lie down on my way to sleep and I went into a coma. I didn't know what it was. I woke up as like somebody blew my whole head off. The pain was so excruciating and I was double vision and everything and I couldn't get it together. And I just kept going back up and back to the coma. And one time I came to at this time, I had been told that the Peggy Lipton, who I was married to at the time, called the paramedics and they came and I said, nothing's wrong if this heart as strong as a mule. So they didn't know it was wrong. And I woke up again and I saw yellow and white lights that tunnel, a proverbial tunnel that everybody talks about and the read out of the mine, which is amazing because now on your computer, if you put your hand down on the clicker, that's what happens. It just read straight out. I saw the ad 1974. You know, just everything that ever happened to you. Of course, you in the press affiliate bang. And now I. The first thing I was became evident was that there were a lot of things and a whole lot of people how I really felt about them. I had a daughter that was six months old that never even called me daddy. And just just a lot of realities just come slamming down and make you realize that children have. It's funny. When I was healing, I sit, sit, sit down, do a lot of silly things and realize that you have thirty thousand days if you lived to 82. And that's that's not very realistic because 10000 you sleep, 10000 you work as much longer and 10000 as you do your whatevers play no party in and friends leave whatever you like to do with your time. Emma, it it brought a reality into my soul that I've never thought about before, because whatever you've got left, cut it in three. It's not that's not even realistic to say I've got this many days left or whatever you presumptious and love to assume. And it did. It affects the way you it it pushes that the feeling of doing your job every time like this the first time and living every day like it's the last time. Very much so. I mean that's where I live now.
Interviewer: Great. Let me just check the clock. We got maybe five minutes. Well, before I even give you this because I sort of feel like this is tied to your answer. What do you have to do in the studio to make a great artist do their best work?
Quincy Jones: To bring the best out of artists in the studio, first, you have to respect and love that artists with everything that's you genuinely respect the love that artist is that simple, because when you do that, everything else falls in place. Are you aware of their need to to stop the need to keep going? They need to eat. They need to vent. They need to be pushed. You know, I've been a member in the studio with Betty Davis as a singer. And I was and I was intimidated by her because as an actress pursues on my field and it's just it just three factors was just for God's sake. Yeah. Let me say, I've never done anything good without a director yelling at me. A no problem. But, you know, it's it's it's a humanity that you're dealing with, first of all, because you're dealing with very strong. Let me tell you something, Billy, that works. Billy Eckstein or Ray Charles or Frank Sinatra, ma'am, they will not play. You're talking about the wrong guys that if they perceive one second, you know, or even sniff the shooter or know what she's doing and you don't know how to get it done and not please your dog me take you apart because they know and they could feel it. And so I was just happy