Speaker Four hundred and forty one hundred sixty thousand words, four hundred forty pages.
Speaker Given the boundaries, that's OK. Right, right.
Speaker And you know what we've got to deal with, you know, well, we are 90 minutes away from PBS is real 90 minutes. It's not a serious man strike. Nobody jumping in and out. Commercial cockroach killers, you know, five back this big one big symphony.
Speaker Yeah, it's beautiful because Ali, God bless him, is clopping. Oh, my God, man.
Speaker All right, we're rolling. So, again, these first few ones, we don't need big stories. We'll just try. And you know how these little things there's a picture upstairs about your first band gig. You think your half brother standing in the back. Tell us about the first band gig you did just very quickly.
Speaker Our first job. My first job, professional job. Nineteen forty seven at the Madison Avenue Y and we had four horns and. With Charlie Taylor, who started the band myself, Eddie Beard and Oscar Holder, his sister, Grace Holden, and my brother Weyman on drums.
Speaker No woman was not born to be a drummer, you know, he wanted to play drums, but he was not born to be a drummer because women in the history of jazz, nobody has ever stopped in the middle of a. And when we were to come when he played drums and we plan to shoot Yabuki with Louis Jordan and all of a sudden to George will get stops. Look back when was like that. So funny. I'm tired.
Speaker Place where it was beautiful. I him.
Speaker Perfect. Good. Everything good back there? Great, great, great.
Speaker OK, so you're with this band, you've done some stuff at school and then, you know, how did you get pulled into bumps? Bumps. Blackwell has been. Very briefly, that that transition you've been doing some stuff on your own, but that bumps Blackwell is like a legend in Seattle.
Speaker He you know, you couldn't get away from him. He ran a butcher shop on Madison Avenue under the Washington Education Social Club. He had a chain of taxicabs. He worked in a jewelry store. He had a job at Boeing and he had a junior and senior band. So we heard about the senior band. He was like, you know, he owned the turf. And so he saw Charlie Taylor's band and sort of drafted that into being Bump's Blackwells junior band. And before we know it, we look up, we're opening for Cab Calloway because we could do everything, dance and play together, comedy, anything at 13 years old. And we wrote for Cab Calloway while we talk could come through. We work with Billie Holiday, comes back through with Billie each time we worked with Billy Eckstine.
Speaker So we you know, we felt we were hot stuff and Ray Charles was in town. And it was wonderful because we we were just pumped up all the time and we had three jobs a night and on was great for kids. So it's a miracle.
Speaker Perfect, my good. Ah, thank you. It's just dipping in the frame near what you just raised, the diffusion rate is what the backlight, the gel on the back is sneaking into the picture. So we're just going to fix that. And I'm going to grab that copy of Kingfish. And asked me about that. How's the Iwanaga, I just really don't want to alarm you a little bit more. OK, tell me when I'm in and then I'll just cue the alarm.
Speaker You know, the I'm sure there's moments in your recording sessions where you and the producer just want to be, you know, somewhere else or whatever, the moment of the tweaking of everything here where, like, I'm not the horse at the starting gate.
Speaker I want to get everything on film.
Speaker And everyone's saying, like, before we record, you know, the brothers, Johnson, whatever, let me fix this, Mike, or let me that Michael.
Speaker I swear I am right in the zone. I feel exactly where you are. Yeah, I really do.
Speaker I have since day one, you know, and I love that that communication. I feel good.
Speaker Great. OK. Am I in. You are now. Good.
Speaker OK, so just tell me this is your I'm going to hand this juice for your first song. Tell me how do you know that you're a young guy, you're trying to retain the right to your song. What do you do. What is that.
Speaker Well, this was the first professional thing I ever had recorded and I was so proud of them. And I was levitating is called Kingfish. And I wrote the arrangement. I wrote the tune. And I did probably one of my only solos on records, the first thing I recorded with Lionel Hampton, but I didn't have much money. And so somebody told me the way you copyrighted it, just put it in an envelope and seal it and put not to be opened for copyright. So they stamp it from the back. They put the stamps on the back and that will hold up in court. And so thank God somebody again showed you the way and showed you how to protect your music.
Speaker And I was thrilled when we did this. This is nineteen fifty one.
Speaker All right. Thank you for winds was a composition.
Speaker They took you a lot of places didn't it. Got you into a handstand. And Schillinger just again, very briefly set up where did that idea musically come out of and then reiterate it took you to you showed it to HAMP and Challenger.
Speaker I you know, they say God protects fools and babies, right? I was so stupid when I was at this age, but I have so much passion for music. I didn't know what his signatures were. I hadn't studied formally. And so I'd write notes at the top of the parts play be natural a half step lower because it sounds funny if you play it natural and the to just put a flat down instead of Turkey. And I was trying to describe the western winds and the north and the winds and the southern limbs and the different characteristics of it, because I always wanted to write for movies first. So I always thought visually and eventually I went for it, wrote it. We played it at Seattle University, Gustman Herts Orchestra, and I showed it to Lionel Hampton. And that that helped get me out of Seattle. And I saw my before that I sent it to Bossom, which was called a similar joust, which is not Berklee School of Music. And that got me to the East Coast closer to Charlie Parker and Bird.
Speaker I mean, and Miles. Great, perfect. You said you know, he said something the other day in Washington. We didn't get an interview, which is that you and your brother would see these movies on the weekend and you'd pay whatever it was, a nickel or something. But you think about it, you'd hear the movie. Tell us about that.
Speaker Well, you know, we used to play hooky from school every day of the week. Sometimes, you know, to go down to pay 11 cents to go see these movies.
Speaker And I was more interested in because I don't know where this fascination for visual and and sound came from, but I could feel the influences of all the studios after a while, after listening to so many with Alfred Newman at Fox and Victor Young at the Paramount, etc., etc., and Benny Carter whenever he did something, and Horace Henderson with Lena Horne. And but after a while, I didn't think it was ever going to be possible for me to get to get an opportunity to write for films, because they were long for several Eastern European names most of the time, and not too many Jones's advances on that. So finally, I got a shot when I was 30.
Speaker Great, now, a great joke, which I've heard you tell Be Beyond and somewhere else was about a Yiddish word.
Speaker That's you. What is that? Tell me about that when you get out to Hollywood.
Speaker Well, you know, it was a word I hadn't heard before. And so for a minute, I said possibly it could be mean.
Speaker Here comes a composer who comes as far as you know, it's a good word for the N word. And it didn't take me long to figure that out, though, so. Didn't last long.
Speaker The first time you go to Europe, there's this amazing picture of you on the plane getting about to go on the plane with Lionel Hampton. What what was the feeling about going to Europe before you get to Sweden before, you know, was that sort of making it or what did it mean to you to leave New York?
Speaker It meant at that age, it meant freedom and.
Speaker Entry level to my most viewed, the most beautiful dreams imaginable, because I didn't know what it was, but I could imagine from things I'd heard about Paris and I had no idea what to expect in Scandinavia and in school, they talked about French. I said, I'll never need French. You know, I'm up in Washington, in the northwest. And so when we got there, I mean, it took 27 hours to get there and then there were prop planes and it was like walking into an on another planet. I couldn't believe what was happening. Now, musically, the girls, everything, it was just the people were so different. And somehow it gave me an opportunity to look at my past, present and future without the weight of always having to think about black and white.
Speaker Another important thing that was going on is the Danes were fighting with the Swedes, the Swedes just fighting with the Finns, the Cypriots with the with the Greeks and Armenians with the Turks. So it let me know that are conflicts of all kinds around the world. And it opened up the lens, so to speak.
Speaker Great, myself and George Cooper and Clifford Sullivan looking out of the train window as we come in the Swedish railroad people, you have to see that. Yeah, and I'm telling you, I can see it right there. And we said, what the hell? We came from Oslo.
Speaker So what the hell is this? On a baggage cart with all these great musicians playing that buns off.
Speaker I mean, I could not believe what I heard come out of there being Talberg on accordion, which is awesome. See my friends band.
Speaker Yeah, I, I like Basquiat. I cheated that for Paris because it's such an amazing photo.
Speaker Yeah. You have that story if that's true. Going into Paris.
Speaker But that's OK. It was the same thing. Only my eyes were big in Paris.
Speaker OK, good nardy. Great. Great. OK, so.
Speaker Just set up, you snuck in, you're doing this session, it's Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, and some Swedish all stars who give us the line up, who are there. And what was it like to create your first that's your first recording, right?
Speaker I mean, you done on the record. Yeah. That the Swedish the Swedish all star. No, that's not a first record.
Speaker Then why is why is that date important for you in your career that there a because that's the contact of the hands across the ocean. Think of a contact with people that could barely speak each other's languages and walk into the studio. And it's like everybody's known and loved each other for years and years and years.
Speaker I mean, it was instantaneous. You can smell respect and love on both sides. And that is one fortunate thing. I mean, with my background as a child was very important that that kind of communication and bonding was always very important to me. And it's happening all over the world. You know, it's so amazing. I mean, it's it's not about difference in nationalities. It's like this could be bad people in every country in the world. Damn smart, you know, cheap, generous, you know, and that's what you learn. And you you have a friend here in Stockholm, one in London, one in Paris, and that's Nagashima in Japan. And it's really the same kind of a buddy, you know, because they like the same music, like the girls, the same kind of food, common interest, like anything else. And it smashed the barrier that would be like a nationalistic baratz. It just flattened it right to the ground. Yugoslavia, the same thing.
Speaker So who are the Swedish all stars?
Speaker The Swedish all stars on the back, Scott Simon Brown, who's the leader on bass. Big Talberg was accordion, one of the best piano players in the world. He played with Miles and Stan Getz on it. I'm Maris's on alto sax. Jacques Norrin was on on drums. The Who's going to go to Johnson was on bass and Alaska lean on baritone sax and Clifford and Clifford Brown and art farmer to my favorite trumpet player. I mean, major traffic was and it was a night that was just my favorite expressions. When God walks through the room, I definitely walk through the room that night. And it was just it's etched in your soul forever, something like that.
Speaker I got that coming up, but let's let's grab that now when one more is to the left.
Speaker You look good when when you go into the studio, you have that favorite expression. Set that up for me. Whenever you go into the studio, there is that sense of divinity. Right?
Speaker One of the reasons of all this is that I've always resisted having a studio home recording studio because to me, the studio is a sacred place. That really is. And if I could get up in the middle of the night, my shots and go record, somebody would take that that that that that feeling away.
Speaker We have always told the musicians and I felt that from the bottom of my soul, that let's leave some space to let God walk through the room because that's when the real serious things happen. And it's a divine intervention. And it's the divinity is really what it's about. Cause and manifestation causes God's. And so once you have the delineated the lines of responsibility, some beautiful things can happen and know that that the footprints of God lives in the studio. So you can always hear it on the tape.
Speaker Thank you. OK, Michael, I'm sorry, a little bit more to you right here, Tony. OK, maybe I should come up. You know, your perfect. First time you hit Paris, just describe the scene like you get out of that train. And you once I once heard you say was smoking, yes, describe Paris us there.
Speaker Well, when I got to Paris, I didn't get out of the train. I levitated something. We were coming from Switzerland. I've just bought an overcoat in Sweden and a Tyrolean hat like all the guys in the band.
Speaker And I started to feel my heart pound, but then a very beautiful way and butterflies, all that stuff. And I just got up and I was in the back of the train just kind of feeling the groove, because I know that was just the beginning of dawn.
Speaker And when we pulled into this train station at the Paladar side, which is which is a museum at that time, it was a train station and a hotel. And I saw the silhouette and crimson silhouette of Paris and the Eiffel Tower and everything you've ever heard about it was the most that was one of the moments that, you know, that it's like a surrealistic dream.
Speaker It really was. I had no no way of knowing what to expect. And it was very shortly after the war.
Speaker So all of the evidence of the world, you could tell you were in a country that had been doing everything 20 or 200 years longer than we've been doing it instantly. Assure you were sure that that was all you could feel that.
Speaker Thank you.
Speaker Duke Ellington said, music is my mistress. What is music to you?
Speaker My mother. It is. Unfortunately.
Speaker Without background, you know, we had my brother reacted to the circumstances of our background and a lot of people that authorities have said that that's what took him out is not knowing how to deal with what what the circumstances were and. He's asked me why I asked why it didn't happen to me. The same thing didn't happen to me because I really, really love my brother would have given my half of my body to him.
Speaker And he said, you found some way as a survival tactic to totally transplant all of your need for what that deficiency was into something else, which is music and imagination. And you can't also you can't forget the impact the radio had on us versus TV because radio stimulates an environment where you can put anything in it you want. I used to make the Green Hornet Black Man and Shadow was black and everything else because on the radio the black people were Bueler Rochester who sometimes would get attacked in his face. But he was funny and he was largely white. So there were no books in the North. Less about black people, you know, it was see Jane run or spot or whatever it was, and maybe once or twice every two years. Booker T. Washington. A couple of sentences, George Washington Carver, but that was it. So you have no place to grab your identity and.
Speaker The big bands from the bands came through, I found out where I wanted to live the rest of my life.
Speaker Thank you very briefly.
Speaker You know, we had the sense in our last interview that, you know, your mother was really not with you and that I think I think it's this story where with Joe Lewis gloves, your father meets this woman.
Speaker Describe your stepmother and really how she favored her own kids. And just in a very brief in broad terms, your relationship with her, that was not a good relationship.
Speaker Well, it was not so much that she favored her own kids, really.
Speaker You know, it was just I think when I think back of it now, because she look back with forgiveness now and much more mature understanding of what was really going on, she was probably doing the best she could. She doesn't know any better.
Speaker You know, she didn't have much of an education and she responded emotionally to a very, very huge responsibility, which is taken care of seven or eight kids during that time. And the only way she probably could do it was crack the whip. And we all laugh with each other. Now, the ones the survivors of the Holocaust of the fourth 20 Second Avenue that's we refer to my brothers and sisters referred to each other.
Speaker And it was she was tough. She was very tough. She was oh, I wasn't able to go in my own refrigerator until I was 23 years old. Psychologically, I was never allowed at home. I was that just that was that fear, you know, and that's that's a lot of brainwashing.
Speaker And my brother and I both had a hard time opening our own refrigerators when we lived in our own own apartments or whatever.
Speaker And then her kids, to me, they they were of those times when women and I used to sit in our you know, and how do we get out of this, you know, how do we do in a lot of crazy stuff. It was very, very powerful emotions. You know, she was tough.
Speaker Just if you would just set up my father married a woman named and give us, you know, give us your name as a topic sentence.
Speaker What do you know? OK, I've got to say of how all this started was that my father was a friend and worked for Joe Lewis and after a fight, he gave them some boxing gloves after he won the fight in. And I took the boxing gloves. I was a little kid and I wanted to be gone from a friend of mine down the street, three doors down the street. And so I gave him his boxing gloves for the Bebek on. My father came home and he wore my butt out first because I told him, he said that he got a pistol whipped on the street and he came back not with the pistol, but my friend's mother was Alvare and he'd married her. And that's that's that's how all that happened. So her name is pronounced Elvir Alvira, AFTRA. And she when she kicked out, but she speaks Spanish. She given you she has some pretty heavy hips. You know, she would send you to the floor and you could not move. Oh, God.
Speaker Wow. What? My mother used it. It's funny how this stuff you right there. My mother used to take a ruler.
Speaker She hit us with a ruler. Oh, yeah. I got to a certain point where once I held my arm, the ruler broke and that was it.
Speaker Really ruler. Well, then my grandmother. She was. Since that since then, you have to wonder, since she was African, you know, so she'd say, want to go get the switch, want to go give a switch. I mean, you have to go out in the backyard and pull off a pussy willow branch. And I was hoping she would hit me with the pussy willow because that at least cushioned some of the blows, are sitting on an assistant and strip all the possibilities off.
Speaker So they have some nice little points there that could bite into your booty. Oh, that old school was a trip, you know, it was. And you know what? There's some aspects of old school that that we could probably use. Now, to tell you the truth, it's a little bit too much freedom going on now.
Speaker And I think it's it's resulted in a lot of disrespectful attitude, so which I think we could split the difference on.
Speaker Very briefly, because it's incredibly complicated, but starting maybe with your grandmother, give me a sense of your family tree, if you would, if you could trace it, just say, you know, maybe let's just start after roots. You got interested in your family genealogy and what I'm particularly interested in. And is that what you once told me is that it's your grandmother who's. She she's the offspring of a plantation owner and a slave, right? That's one thing. Then there's the whole French court. Side, right?
Speaker The musical from the music.
Speaker So I'll try, I'll try outside, outside, outside, outside.
Speaker We'll use the chart, but I'll make the best of the best part about one of the great pleasures of ever have said Alex Haley is of my brother, a very close friend was Alex asked me one question one day and he said, Where did the music come from in your family?
Speaker I couldn't answer it because I wasn't aware of anybody in my family that ever played music.
Speaker My mother played a little church, piano, hymnal, piano and.
Speaker Alex went to Salt Lake City to let the name Johnny Sarnie Mormon, which I discovered that that's their religion. He said if he had used them her. So he has a company called Lineages Inc. he could have saved 10 years on roots. And he says, I'm going to find out what your musical heritage came from. Make a long story short. That report comes back. And as we find out from a plantation wood plantation, Bolaven in Mississippi, which is owned by James Linera, related to Sidney Lanier and with direct blood stream from George Washington. You know, and they ran the whole thing down. I couldn't believe it. And in it, it took it.
Speaker Eventually, all the way back to Edward, the first Longshanks, and on the way we ran into Nicholas Linera and 14 Corton musicians, that was Huguenots that came from England to France. And that may have been that special kind of strange feeling I had when I saw Paris and I tied it together.
Speaker And he was in fact, I have a painting of necklaced in there that was painted by Van Dyke. And it's just so it's just a long, amazing history.
Speaker But the way they did it, they found my grandmother's night slip, so she'd sign until the night work. And now in Kentucky and down the Carolinas, and they found everything, all of the.
Speaker Chicago Defender articles about my father fighting discrimination as a carpenter in the 30s and 20s and so forth. Amazing experience. And there were 14. In fact, Jane Fonda is a cousin to she found the same thing on her side. Wow, it's all hooked up together one way or another, but most of the time you don't know the black side is very difficult to trace accurately, but they did send they have census reports and weather reports. They have amazing devices to dig into your history. I was just absolutely startled.
Speaker Yeah, touch the make up. How are you doing? It's OK, but I think you're asleep in 1956 and I'm like, Oh, that's on the tour.
Speaker I want you on my stomach right now. Yeah, yeah. Because I have apnea.
Speaker Sleep apnea. I didn't find out till six years ago. And I was a kid. I was all I could really sleep when I was on my stomach.
Speaker Oh, but but, you know, you have this responsibility to.
Speaker To share that stuff, because there's a lot of a lot to learn and a lot to learn in their.
Speaker Everybody read great on.
Speaker Give me a topic sentence for this, if you would, what was your nickname at Mercury Records?
Speaker Let's start with my nickname. Was I don't like it.
Speaker Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I think probably the nickname behind my back was Budget Buster one, the two musical guys. It was a hell of money there, too, who was an arranger and an executive to a Naaman. And we do all of the very musical things, you know, how was doing Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan and et cetera. And we were kind of sharing those. And I had Nina Simone and and all those other things and they call us budget busters because we just big, big orchestras, much bigger than what the pop hits were. And they sold maybe one tenth. I remember when I first went to Mercury, I said, well, what do you guys consider a jazz record? They said Anything that sells under 20000 records is jazz. And if it's over 20, it's not jazz anymore.
Speaker Great, now, after after a bust in the budget for a while, there must have been some sort of pressure to to create, you know, some sort of hit. Give us give us a sense of that and how just again, very quickly, I know it's tied in with a trip to Japan and everything. How did this. It's my party thing. Immerge.
Speaker Well, I've been challenged on several fronts and on the other hand, our guys sublimity, nobody ever came out and said, man, get up off your butt, you know, contribute to the bottom line. But you just kind of sense it because I'm doing almost like French horns for my lady with Julius Watkins was probably sold about 111 records. And so Irving mentioned to me very suddenly a couple of times. And so we were at an NRA meeting in Chicago. And Irving has a cassette. We'd go through all kinds of business and status reports and all those meetings at the Oxford Hotel in Chicago. And he said, is this tape all you guys have to do is say you heard it because Joe Glazer gave it to me. And Howie, his friend was a fight promoter, is the uncle of Lesley Gore. You know, and you just said, I want to tell him that I presented to you guys.
Speaker So they threw it down together in the room and I played it and the guy's throwing it back.
Speaker And I caught it on the way. I caught the cassette and said, I love the sound. It was very original sound. And she was in tune. And that time, you know, they weren't that not a lot of singers were singing until then. I mean, it was that was part of the style. Was that singing, too?
Speaker And so we went and found this song through some publishers and class argument. The class argument took arrange and conduct the session. And we went in the bell sound on a Saturday afternoon and we cut two sides of this side that was written by Paul Anka, Danny and it's my party and felt very good about it. You know, first time I really I don't pop records before, like a whole lot of shakin going on with Big Maybelle and Laverne Baker and things. But this was really aiming for a pure pop market that you have to remember that it was brand new at that time.
Speaker The kids singing rock and roll for pop.
Speaker And then I went to Japan I didn't like and I didn't like, I didn't think I liked her last name. I learned a lot about that, too. So we've changed the name. When I get back to Japan, I was going over there to score a film and act in it with Tony. George and I got a call and they said of. Anybody call you God? I said no, I said, how are we doing with Leslie's name to set her records?
Speaker No one is still careful and it's about homeless do an album and some down in the Leslie did must have had 18 hits in a row, even up until the invasion of the Beatles. You don't only was number two and we were mumbling around about.
Speaker Yes. Let's turn to Frank Sinatra briefly. What made Sinatra great?
Speaker I think what made Frank Sinatra so great was the same thing that made people like Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee great is very difficult for the audience today to realize that the.
Speaker Bases, the artist Charles Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington's Lunsford's and Tommy Darcis were the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and Boyz the Men and the Temptations of that time.
Speaker The instrumentalists were the stars, you know, and the vocal groups with Relief. And Tommy Dorsey's band, he'd play as long as he wanted to and Ziggy Elman and by rechannel whoever was in the band at that time. And then they'd modulate and Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford and the Pied Piper of walked up to the microphone after modulation to sing a song and sit back down. What made them great is they did not have the pressure on them to be an amazing performer, amazing singer and everything else because they had a wonderful spawning ground there to sit there every night, learn, listen to the best jazz musicians in the world and basically expand and watch Tommy Dorsey breathe. And I'm getting sentimental over you. Frank Sinatra's you know, he learned how to breathe the whole notes like he does because they had a proper apprenticeship time and development and a spawning ground places to use the spawning, which they don't have. Now, a kid at 15 years old walks into the studio because the number one records that a publicist or agent, a manager of pigmies stretches. We've got everything all at one time and and 40 million dollars worth of jobs to and has to learn how to do everything that takes somebody else 25 years to develop piece by piece. They have to get it all together. Imagine the pressure on Britney Spears. How many people are there for fixing our hair and makeup and a microphone and the stage and choreographers and everything else to get her prepared after one or two hits to get out on a stage and hold that spotlight? It's not easy. And also, we have to let's get down to it. The other thing, the people from the era of Sinatra was singing the best music ever written, America, please, let's get real. They sang the best songs ever written in this country in terms of American popular music. And I know that's subjective and a matter of opinion, but I mean, when you get down to just music, there's not too much to discuss whether what's really musically creative, lyrically and melodically.
Speaker And you must admit that the songs of the 40s and and so forth with some of the most powerful things ever written in pop music, most of them from Broadway shows, and they had the best material.
Speaker They had great arrangers and and very musical bands, because looking back, all those bands were really dance bands, basses, Duke and Artie Shaw. But Woody Herman, everything they would dance bands first to shake your booty. Now, in the course of that, with imagination and a group of 18 or 19 musicians, that's a great arranger. There's a great leader and has great solos in there. And a lot of innovation and art came through in spite of it just being a dance situation and classical art going through that. And it was was like Salk vaccine in a way. And it came out and and it's something that captured the entire planet very early. I'm not friends, friend, Sweden, Harry Nicholson, who was the the owner and founder of a jazz orchestra journal, which the 80 year old jazz magazine from Sweden. And it's it's ironic that the entire world. Discovered this art from America and Americans to this day, most of them have not really got understood what place to play in the world of the world of art around the world.
Speaker American music.
Speaker Hey, man, what about working? You know, there's that documentary you made in in. I guess in the mid 80s, working with Frank and you see you guys huddling together so, you know, really talking cold with each other quietly away from everybody else, speak to how you work with Frank. It wasn't like a big public, OK, this is what we're doing. But it's very personal, wasn't it?
Speaker Computer communication between Frank was very personal. I think the key to that, that communication was there's just there's two different environments. That's when he and I are in the dressing room and maybe Julie and George Jacobs or somebody. That's one situation, the other situation where there's managers and musicians and people running around doing things.
Speaker So it becomes very clear right away that the way to effectively communicate with Frank is suggested to him privately rather than telling him publicly because you force him to have to defend his or his position and his reputation as, you know, as being a bigger than life legend. When you when you force a confrontation in public like that, I don't think it's very intelligent to do. And I have good case in point would be when we open in Vegas with Bass the first time, it's the Sands Hotel. And Frank did something that was I'd never seen anybody do before, which I really love because I work with lots of singers and they take, you know, a legal pad or whatever, and they write to 14 and fill in to the tunes of all the other, the tunes for the show, and then maybe say, put the 12 and I'd say false balls into a play off, like they're going to leave and then come back and do tomorrow. Of course. I mean, that's not so. And that's the way it works. Frank views. And if you change your mind, you have to rewrite all those things across this out and put it down. And it's very cumbersome. Frank would come in with three by five cards, and I love that it sounds simple, but three by five cards with each individual song on it. So you just shuffle around just like that was so simple and you could really go after a real good Tomstad working on a show. And just before we ended the rehearsal, as we were in the rehearsal, he put Get me out of Chicago. This is my kind of town at the beginning of the show and fly me to the moon at the end. I've just written arrangements, you know, and I had adapted Nelson Riddle's arrangement on my kind of town for they didn't have strings with basically. So when we got to the dressing room. I knew the energy of those two things and I knew it was backwards and I said, Francis, I think we tried just the reverse of that is more stark, beginning on unflagged to the moon and really powerhouse flag-Waving closer on my kind of town. Let's let's try to let that first show coocoo. No problem. Neverwas. You know, it was amazing respect, but he would if he gets cornered in front of a crowd, you know, he he he bites step. It's like stepping on his tail, on they bike, you know, and I've seen him take people out or a lot of artists, you know, we were on top of Ray Charles. Please ask my love. You know what reptiles of.
Speaker From a glass of water, if you just step on the scale, you know, when you first got to Vegas, it wasn't you know, Vegas wasn't very hospitable to black musicians, was it?
Speaker Oh, that's such a funny hospital. That word never came up.
Speaker He had to sort of want to tell us what Frank did to sort of give you guys the ability to just exist in the town.
Speaker Well, I had been on the road for years with Lionel Hampton. I'm coming out of Seattle and I got a lot of surprises in the south and, you know, with wood colored drinking fountains and that's what they said, colored and white them. And the dance halls were all segregated in New Orleans, Mississippi, Georgia and everywhere.
Speaker And we in the sixties, now 64. And so when we first night, we get that Frank has this big huddle over there, some slot machines. I remember Keely Smith and her brother Peggy were there. And I see a bunch of very rough looking dudes standing around. He says, here's how it's going to work. These funny guys are going to be assigned to that different guy in the band. And if anybody even looks funny at them, break their legs. I mean, Frank used that word very loosely, and I had a Yugoslavian dude who was in his late 60s with a bald head. They could they could actually break a brick, you know, probably with his hands. He taught me to speak several Croatian. And I didn't realize it was that rough up there then. And they'd just come out of a situation where, you know, the biggest orders up there would have been that call Alino. Anybody else they had to eat in the kitchen. They could not even go into the casino. Sammy Davis couldn't go in the casino when he first worked there. That's where it was. And I remember once with the Four Tops working with Sammy, and they weren't allowed to go in the pool. And so what you're talking about is going to be ring around the pool or something. But it was it was the races. There's no two ways about it. And it's so that's the way it was.
Speaker How did you get in already? This is what I was mentioning before, I love to focus on your ring, if you would. How did you come by Franck's ring and what does it mean to you? OK, we're just just going to tweak your. Tweet, tweet.
Speaker My do tweet, and I do know they're going to close up on your hand, and it was a little trite if you tried to call me out as often as you do to get the grease, because your book has so much great stuff. But one of my favorites is the scene of how you got ready for a gig and all the different on that.
Speaker And the rag was just a drag. Yeah.
Speaker Yeah, well, that's true, man. I mean, that was a serious attempt to do. Yeah, I see it in my yearbook. I've got all the waves going there. All right, let's go back to the ring and how it came to you and what I mean, it's this is a brand that's it's the family ring of the Sinatra family and sort of the ring fence and off the war. Almost everything he's saying.
Speaker And Tina gave us all of rings with this family seal on it.
Speaker All the people who were really close to the family. It means a lot to me. Frank was amazing. We had bonded an amazing way. I never took it. Unfortunately, I never knew how real and deep it was until he was gone, because I didn't want to take the chance of being vulnerable enough to get hurt if that was the way he acted with everybody, you know what I mean? And so but he really reached out. He asked me to go to the family dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we spent a lot of time together and really hanging and Palm Springs and just so incredible working and playing relationship. And it's either one is a 100 percent experience playing with him and working with him. But working and playing with him is is awesome. And I'm glad that both.
Speaker Great, Quincy, would you take your glasses and just push them back? Great. There we go.
Speaker I was just hoping, rather than having me right a little bit about these most significant people in your life, but if you could speak to them again, very briefly, a line, two lines, Jerry, and then you and Peggy, what was it? What describe your relationship to them and.
Speaker Oh, boy, I know, but it's just so much better from you. Oh, did you have me say I don't mind you doing that? Well, OK. All right. I'll do it when we talk about that. But because you just hit the hole. I know. No thanks. I knew. It's a big thing. Oh.
Speaker It's just these are people who are OK.
Speaker I mean, come on, they gave me my kids and all.
Speaker Jerry used to take the coffee to think that she did everything.
Speaker Jerry did everything. Jerry did not deserve me. Believe me, she's she was a fantastic woman. I've always respect and have a very warm, deep feeling for her. She's the mother, my most beautiful child, and I've seven incredible children.
Speaker And I did not know how to be a father at the time. And she was there all the time. She was afraid to get for first love in high school. And we went through a lot together, a lot of rough stuff, a lot of the joyful stuff, because we had a good attitude about it.
Speaker And I just we I guess we just grew in different directions and and that's hard. And that probably comes from getting married too young and not knowing who you are. And I was still still trying to find out who I was and the parties, you know, please.
Speaker And she's a good lady.
Speaker Dutifully, and so your next relationship began in the early 60s, right, but not in L.A., it was in New York where you met by force in Forest Hills when Sinatra asked me to join him after we finished the concert, we were working there with the forces of. Call a stadium, and they said there was a Tea Party afterwards. We had been partying so hard on the road, you I said, Francis, you know, you're wearing me out, man. We're just coming from Detroit, you know, Barney's and, you know, tearing it up. And there's two single guys. And he said, let's walk to 15 minutes and we'll be out of the city, OK? And as we walked through, I see this lady with this Gucci, not Puchi dress, which was pretty high in those days, but they made up for it because they had high Kora's white carets boots, you know, and you could tell that she was obviously a model and she was just a Ford model, beautiful long eyelashes. And she was just 19 years old and she was with her mother and her brother and.
Speaker We went we hung out that day, and it's a funny thing happened. We went by her apartment on Phil Ramone and Irving Green and with a family and went by apartment on Park Avenue.
Speaker And after she took me, we were talking and everything else.
Speaker She took me swimming and some building down a busy street is and I guess she wanted me to let me know that she was an expert swimmer. She talked the Olympic team in Sweden. You know, she coached them. And I said, what am I doing? People know sleeping on a swimming pool, you know, like at eight o'clock in the morning or whatever it was. And all of us what happened was I had been running all over the world and a lot of relationships. And at one point I in a way, kind of got short circuited because it was hard for me to to identify the emotions connected with with one person. You know, it was just a lot of beautiful, fantastic women that I just just happened to run into and six different countries in the world. And and and it scared me because it didn't feel normal, you know, to live like that. And I've listened. I've always appreciated having a good time. Don't get me wrong.
Speaker But I said to myself, well, maybe I should go back to try to make it work with Jerry, you know, and so forth. But I was I was going I admit that I had a lot of issues with dealing with how do you deal with a significant other you know, and if you don't really understand what mother is, it's hard to understand what that is to. I don't get too Freudian about this, but I said, OK, this is not the way to go. And so I was presumptuous enough and arrogant enough to say, OK, I'm going to settle down with all the and everything's going to be OK and all my sins will be redeemed. And that is pretty presumptuous and arrogant. And it didn't work out that way because she had her own damage. She was damaged herself. You know, her father left her mother when she was five years old, almost a similar situation.
Speaker And later on, after much work and therapy and so forth, later on, I understood that I was always looking for my inner child, was looking for that little girl in a child who was just as messed up as he was and did a pretty good job, you know, and they'd find each other. And it was really the the those two playing with, you know, playing with that were playing out the whole role.
Speaker And so it was, you know, was was was short lived. And your differences seemed to be exaggerated when it when it's on that basis. But it's still not coming in the radar zone the right way. And I have two beautiful children, Tina and Snoopy, that I'll always be grateful for little. But she was a fantastic mother to Snoopy and sons. When the marriage breaks up, I always feel the Oedipal thing and they want to take care of mom and replace Dad, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But everything's now everything is just so beautiful. Snoop is married and he's got a wonderful wife and seven grandchild, his baby, my grandchild, probably in five months. And I'm just very happy for all all my kids heads are right now. And I think I've finally learned how to be a good daddy. And and I guess Ken is getting the benefit of my youngest eight year olds, give the benefit of all of all of this knowledge and all the things that the earlier kids didn't get. And they also were at three or four different stages of my life when I was starving to death in New York. For Jolie, you know, to better with Snoopy and Tina Rasheed and Kidada, you know, labeller babies. And so, you know, it's hard to get this out of your control, you know, but, hey, that's that's the shots life gives you. And I have nothing to complain about. And I feel like the most blessed person ever.
Speaker When we interviewed Peggy, she said when you guys started, she had the lake house and the show and she had it all going on.
Speaker That's right. That's right. In fact, I lived in her home at that time. I left I left home and I lived with Michael Butler's house, the guy that was the producer of Hair. And he says, you got it all. It's a beautiful home up at Sunset Plaza Drive set. And you don't have to share it until Mick Jagger and Keith Richards get in town. I said no problem. And so they got in town and they could pick me up one day. And she said I said and she said, get some facts. You get out of there. She was having no party at that party animal scene. And she moved me and her home on Beverly Boulevard. And I stayed with her, you know, and I was just beginning my thing was just beginning. And she was tired of the business. She was huge star. I hadn't met her before on a trip we've made with Sidney Poitier in 1968 when I was married, but didn't pay too much attention.
Speaker And and later on, did Jolie. Yeah, she did. OK, let's press on.
Speaker Great story because we just got permission again from Bruno Hamade of Radio One to use the Paris concert in a short snippet. Beautiful. And there's a beautiful story that ties into that, which is when you're sort of hustling for work at Birdland, trying to sell arrangements to Count Basie.
Speaker And Basie teaches you a lesson that you've kept with you forever.
Speaker Tell us that story after Quincy. Just occasionally give you an assignment.
Speaker It's falling down. That's good. The the power of the temple, the right temple has many words for it. In the pocket, in the in the pocket was the word we use all the time. Because when it's in the pocket, there's nothing to discuss. Nobody's saying it's a little too fast or a little too slow and drag. It is nothing to say. It feels just right. But nature, a very organic nature, a natural thing.
Speaker And I got my best, biggest lesson when we used to stand in line to pray that our Rangers would be played on Mondays at Birdland, would stand there with our music. And we'll have to Frank Foster of that jams all his great arrangers. Ernie Wilkins plays one of the best arrangers in the world.
Speaker And Bessie was playing Little Darling that I think Neal had just recorded on Coral Records.
Speaker And he had the tempo of a vessel like that, and he was kicked it off and played it like that. And Bess said, let's try it like this. And he said, the slowest tempo I've ever heard in my life.
Speaker Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.
Speaker Butel with that was like a transition. It startled me. I'm telling you I just couldn't believe it. It was like a never sounds like another world and big beautiful fat rich harmonies that Neil wrote. You could hear everything when it was fast. It just, it just rushed by and basically just milked every part of it. And from that moment on, I was a very, very tempo, conscious person about everything and finding the right tempo always.
Speaker I think the real key is great because we can then lead into Omri singing tell us.
Speaker Oh, that's right. That's right.
Speaker So last seen recently in Paris, tell just said so.
Speaker So here we are with flash forward, I don't know, 40 years or something. And if we are in Paris at the theater, shall we say, and I take one of the biggest chances and programming, not chances but just different chances that I've ever done ever on the stage. And I've worked with this amazing man.
Speaker Had Salvador, who is 83 years old, has the number one record album in France and Belgium and one of the best musicians I know. He's a singer, songwriter, guitarist and one of the most popular comics in France is from Guadeloupe and Martinique. And funny maniac, beautiful, soulful man. I've written with him and everything. And he is on the show along with Michelle. McGraw was an old friend from long time ago and still no one was there, say the Garratt Milk Grace and Phil Collins and Arquettes National Symphony Orchestra and David Bergholz Ensemble, because we're doing the Duke Ellington salute in the first half of the show. And at the end of the show, we play all his big things, the strings and everything else would say, the garage, singing the brains out and. Just before the last tone, which was Let the good times roll honoris sings Little Darlin. Just beautiful, and the temple just as slow as that one that basically took it down to that day of Birdland, and it's like it makes you triply celebrate just being alive.
Speaker Well, this is great.
Speaker All right, Ed had a question, had the aneurysm, you saw computer stuff, but everyone says you have such big ears and so on. What went well, no meaning big ears like you can hear me. Will Smith is going to be OK. What do you hear when you had the. The hearings, that's interesting. Did it disappear?
Speaker Yes, because, you know, I think what happens is when you listen to music, for instance, you know, most people, they come home, relax, listening is the first thing they do is lean back and close their eyes, shut down in one sense to enhance another. I suppose that's why you're doing. There was so much going on with the other senses that No. One, the pain of erupted aneurysm, you cannot believe what it feels like. And it's like somebody got inside your head and fired a gun out the back, you know, and that's why the coma kept coming back. I kept going in and out of a coma because the phone companies to get you away from the pain, you can't take the pain anymore. And about the psyche does not like pain at all. And I started to feel I couldn't tell whether I had vertigo. I couldn't tell whether standing up or lying down, I didn't know what was going on. And it's like a feeling I never had since I've been alive. And Peggy called paramedics and they said its hearts are strong as an ox know.
Speaker And I saw that gold and white light and tunnel, that old proverbial thing that everybody talks about and said, hold boy, this is it. This is not a way out here. And then I saw that rush of all of your life and things just gone by and people and I didn't get a chance to hear Kidada call me father and and just all these things that people had said, I'm not sure I really feel about them and were just crazy stuff just flying by, just like holding down that that that that part of the computer that allows it.
Speaker But the computer wasn't out until three or four years later. So it was so strange for me to see a computer with that in it. And since then, my very close friend of mine is Marvin Minsky now who's the co-founder of Artificial Intelligence. And that's when I realized is replicating the human mind. And he's he makes no he doesn't deny that at all. He's got a great book I've called Society of Mind, that explains. And in London last year, I said to him, I said, Marvin, you're going for everything and you forget how you're going after judgment and passion and everything else. And he is it really is mean. People save money. Machines can't think of viel. We'll see.
Speaker How did music get you back sort of on your feet, the doctor doctor prescribed work, didn't, didn't she?
Speaker Yeah. Tell me about that, Dr. LCG. I got one operation in August and they said the good news is you live one out of 100 lives through this interruption. And the bad news is you've got another one that's ready to pop in any minute.
Speaker And so we have to go back in October and do it all over again. And I freaked out. No. After I came out of the second one alive, I mean, I couldn't believe it and but I had amnesia and partial paralysis on the left side and anemia.
Speaker I took the step to take this medication for a long time, Dilantin. And I thought that's what does that anyway. Some some pills you have to take for just keep your blood thin. And I forgot that I had, but I forgot a lot.
Speaker Forgot all I was in fact, I booked a concert tour and that following February 15 cities in America, fifteen in Japan.
Speaker And I said LCG lose five, you know, angel, guardian angel to all this. My doctor said, I can't do it. I can't even stand up for five minutes. And she said, you can. And you're going to you know, if you have to get a stool and fight your way through it and plow your way through it, or you will be a vegetable the rest of your life. And I did when I'm on the road every night and some nights I had to sit on that stool for a long time all through Japan, you know, five, seven or eight cities in Japan. That's when the brothers Johnson and my rhythm section and it was she was right. And the song The Great. Why was route so important to you for routes was important for a lot of reasons because I gave a party once.
Speaker Johnson is the blacks that Cicely Tyson rascally Brown ran down at the Mark Taper. And I have a party at my home afterwards for the cast and all the friends and everything else. I was a big part of my brains out in those days and 60s and there was a sweet, quiet gentleman in the corner that night and I went to introduce myself. Someone said, You got it, I'll get you a drink or anything else. Quincy Jones is my name is Alex Haley, and he says, I'm working on this thing and I'm doing this in the place. And it's not I had not a clue what he was talking about, really. I mean, I felt it because I was doing the research part of it because I was doing research myself on black music after being in the business 25 years. I want to really find out what all this means, the African connection, all of that. What how much of it is African that's left in, you know, a lot and a black church and a lot of hybrids.
Speaker And so, Alex, we stayed friendly and he'd come over to the house, he'd cook short ribs and shredded cabbage. He was a great cook and a Coast Guard. And we hang out and just into all kinds of things were down to do projects together. We were working on Paradise Lost from Minute with a gun in multiple and.
Speaker So it was a combination of your connection to him and the material that, yes, in a short way.
Speaker So then he it was his his thing was building up and he was finally like Book of Family.
Speaker And he asked me to go to a couple of reasons and so forth. By this time, he had asked me also to get involved and in a miniseries that David Walker was doing and. Then I started to see what had happened, you know, and how he took two words, coal for Kaura, which is an instrument for West Africa, and Gambi, which is a river, and take those words to trace his roots all the way back to his family in West Africa. And it was awesome. And a lot of my research to know was felt like it was parallel to that situation.
Speaker So it almost was like the divine move that they would ask me. And Warford asked me to be involved in and routes. And and so we did.
Speaker I did the first episode because I struggle with I really struggle with it to say it was so important to me that if a culture's stolen, strayed or lost, the shaft, established that culture and they were not interested in me being not going that way. And I couldn't help. I couldn't handle it.
Speaker I really felt like I could not discipline myself enough to just focus on just being getting the job done. I really couldn't because it was very, very personal and I wanted to have African music and so forth. And and at that time, nobody knew what it was going to be. You know, you can't guess those things. People can look back and say, oh, yeah, I know that's not true. If they knew the networks.
Speaker Closed it down the night before, sweet weeklies, they put all eight nights together and that and after that, Sunday, the next night was the start of sleep. But give me a break. And if they knew what it was, that's what you dream about for a week. This was the biggest thing since the Super Bowl that they ever had on television that night. Anyway, we will get lost sometimes.
Speaker That's great, you know, this shows on sweep, if you would, Miss Shabazz and I now call Mr. Jones Mr. McWilliams.
Speaker I'm now very formal friend. I like that. I do, too. And I said, dignity is beautiful. It is OK.
Speaker A heavy duty area that we didn't we didn't really. We placed you in Chicago, you talked about your mother there. But what I think.
Speaker Nobody really knows that. She lived a long time. It wasn't like just in your childhood, your mother, you know, is taken away from you and you miss her mother. There's that she keeps showing up in your life. And I guess I just like again, in the broadest sense. Throughout your life, if you could speak to what your mother a moment when she shows up, which you just can't believe she's messing with your life or what have you, and then if you'd speak to when your mother finally passed away, was it a loss? Was it a release? What did it mean to you?
Speaker Well, we when I think about my brother and I lied and my mother, it's still a big gray area because.
Speaker She didn't know how to be a mother, and we did certainly didn't know how to be children or her children. And so. I guess from the very beginning, it was established, unfortunately, people are tonelessly with very early age.
Speaker When your mother gets out of the mental hospital, she's going to kill you. Everybody said that some, you know, get a sense of humor, you know, but we took it very seriously. And when she'd see how she escaped one time and we saw her running towards us, we thought we were going to die and we really didn't. So that gets very deep in your subconscious mind and your psyche. You know that that feels so every time you move in closer to try to change that and try to find a more peaceful, safe place with her, she would attack again. And it was like she to stop.
Speaker I just could never communicate. Never I mean, never on the phone. I'd try everything I know to try to keep a conversation that would go on and keep a nice positive flow going. We couldn't go. I could not get there. And Lloyd and eventually was the same with me. At one point he'd have to hang up, you know, and that's not that's not a part of my nature to hang up on somebody. I think it's it's the worst thing that can happen. But I don't know. And I'm sure that a lot of things and answers that are unresolved inside because everybody wants to and needs to be. Not loved, but adored by your mother. You know, I don't have a clue what the word means, and I tell my girlfriend all the time, you know, there are two kinds of people here, the people that were nourished and nurtured and validated by two caring human beings, the male and the female, not necessarily mother and father and were valued. And guided by these people, that's one kind of person, the other ones that didn't have that and like John Bradshaw and Homecoming and his homecoming book and the reclaiming and and nurture nurture the inner child searching inner child sex before the age of nine years old. These two people as caretakers to four from nine to 18 months to validate guy love, all identify or and that will help you be a whole human being.
Speaker If you don't have that, you spend the rest of your life trying to fill up that hole to figure it all out. And it's true. And that's the other kind of person.
Speaker And I now, because the lives that she is so totally that love person, you know, I mean, from seven brothers and sisters and mother and father, the just the most giving, nurturing people I've ever seen in my life of.
Speaker It's such a huge difference and, you know, they don't know how to communicate with each other. That's what I'm realizing now. You have not you have a good background. Yeah, well, you don't know what I'm talking about. You don't have a clue. You know, it's hard. And why should you be able to relate what it feels like not to have that? Like, I can't relate to what it must feel like as to having gone looking forward to going home every day and said there's a mother that really cares about me and everything else I'm thinking about. She'll be proud of me today or God, I hope she's not too angry that I did this or whatever all the other things that it's about. So when I talk to Dr. Dean Ornish, who I asked to come and help me with my brother, like I said, how did this happen?
Speaker And you know that he got all of this this disease inside of his body and mind and accept it and everything. How did that happen? He said he told the first thing he said, you can never see your mother again. Never you either. And of Elvir, forget it. He wouldn't want to see that that anyway. But you said you can never see her again. And I didn't understand that. You know, I went the other way. I went into this other world I've created literally created my own world because it was a survival tactic. I had no choice.
Speaker And so I'm not saying I'm any better off or worse off or anything else you do. The thing you have to do to make it, man, that's all anybody knows how to do. You have to do what you have to do.
Speaker And I can't.
Speaker It's like driving a car. I've just as probably I don't know how to drive a car. I must be a great feeling that you get an attitude and slam the door and go outside and spank and rub off, you know, and drive around and cool off and stuff like that. I'll never know as the same, the same with this thing.
Speaker I'll never know what that feeling is. Now, you know, my mother lived to see out of like it's amazing, brilliant lady. I mean, absolutely brilliant. What I've have is just fantasy of a Christmas. Sometimes she'd send me to type the whole New Testament in one hundred words a minute, you know, twelve languages, you know, write and speak it. Amazing. When she went to Boston University in the 20s, you know, and.
Speaker She had dementia praecox and they say it has been said at that time that she could have been cured with vitamin B, who knows? You know, we never know because she'd never got cured. And we all would talk will probably be kind of work it up till the day we leave the planet, you know, just what the hell to do. But in the meantime, just do what you can.
Speaker Watson and I was surprised, I think it was right after he saw you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And he called he didn't mention he did the thing he didn't mention. So I didn't have a chance to thank him. And he told me about the book. He was talking about that he said, it looks like my own life, man, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's wonderful. The second skip around if I want to and it's going to have a block party on the 30th. And but this man is awareness level. I know he's a Rhodes Scholar, but he astounds me because, you know, he's got a million things on his mind. He's traveling all over the world dealing with all his issues and has been for a long time.
Speaker And you speak to how you narrowly now speak to how you and he connect clearly the one parent kind of background. And and, you know, OK, it's good.
Speaker It's the nature of what he was in.
Speaker The good example, after a long time, they asked us to stay at Lincoln Bedroom the first night, January 1st, 2000, the first night of the next thousand years. And that night. He was playing cards with some friends and so forth. My son was Snoopy and his girlfriend and at least that we were upstairs in the solarium and he came downstairs and he showed us his pictures on the wall. What is this? That's the first house in ragged desirables. Oh, it was. It was our house was. But since the first day I've met him and Hillary and Chelsea, it's been like somebody I've known all my life, you know, and came up, was raised with the they said there's just a very comfortable way of communicating. And it's not just about politics anyway. It's about humanity. And he's aware I saw him do things and at CAA giving a speech, you know, about the conflict content should be to all the film makers, etc.. He had a speech this big. He looked up in the balcony, saw Fred Wertheimer from Westheimer from a William Morris and John Singleton standing together.
Speaker And he looked up at Turnspit, just put it put it on the thing and jammed the whole rest of the speech because he recognized John Singleton. I don't I can I can't remember. One other president would recognize John Singleton from sight. I'm serious. No, I'm not a lot of presence there. And with his awareness of the street, I've always felt very comfortable, not as a president in the White House that understands the street because just say no to drugs. And that man, that's that's childish, you know, and we know we've had that, but he knows what's going on. And the bonding, as always, has always been so comfortable that this includes inclusive and let you express yourself and any thoughts and he can go anywhere. And one example was I said I saw a card. My friend Clark Terry said I saw a beautiful postcard the other day. He sent me with a picture of you on June 18th of the jazz appreciation thing you said. Yeah, it's a shame that Joe Henderson, past Joe Henderson was a saxophone player right next to them, very special jazz musician, that he was aware that he was on that postcard and that he had passed. You know, and I don't know any presidents that would be that aware of our culture. And I mean, those these are very mild, simplistic kind of examples. But we go we go anywhere we go. Or if we're talking about Nelson Mandela, if you're talking about legalization of drugs or whatever, you know, he will give his point of view and so forth. And it's just I love I love me some Bubba. I love Bill. I love Hillary and I love Chelsea. And they're just incredible people set up.
Speaker If you are, I think the section we're going to use is how do you take I Have a dream.
Speaker Martin Luther King, followed by L.L. Cool J. And Bill Clinton gets that.
Speaker Just explain your thinking in building a program that way and how Bill Clinton can speak to the inclusive nature of rap in our culture. Again, very quickly.
Speaker OK, I was very pleased when when when when when Bill mentioned how he doubled the correlation between Dr. King protests of the fifties and L.L. Cool protests of the 90s. Because I had them on inauguration, I had the clip of Dr. King doing I Have a Dream with with L.L.. That's what it was all about, I got a lot of of of a of resistance in the beginning. You can't have a rapper followed, Dr. King, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This is the same club.
Speaker And I was just so pleased that the president understood it. But 500000 other people did. They jumped to their feet when he hit that stage. I'm telling you, they leaped off the ground when I came out after Dr. King. And it fit so organically was like the glove.
Speaker Right, um.
Speaker Why are you so connected? This is a big question to South Africa and Nelson Mandela that started with roots, was that before that?
Speaker I mean, it started in 1970. I don't know why I didn't at that time, I could barely put names to the things I could feel, I had a sense of awareness about it, and I did an album called Geula Matari, which is supposed to be on stand. His grave means breaker of rocks. And I know it was a South American South African term.
Speaker I never, ever explained what it was about. It was about the times of peace and times of struggle back to times of peace. That was what the Met was a metaphor for that that whole it was a long piece that I wrote, never told anybody. I never wrote about it or spoke about it. And ironically, what, three years ago, we went over to be with him on the blue train. We would meet people in each village as we went through. But this night everybody had gone to bed. And we hear this rumble outside about 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. I told him that I'm going to go check it out.
Speaker Look, thousands of people out there and they were just running the train. They were probably sorry they missed us when we were and we were there earlier.
Speaker And they all have had the pictures of the cover of Google. Matari pressed up against the train and the guys in prison. A lot of people in prison, students and everything else all knew what it was about. They said they used that as a fight, as a fight, as a fight, a metaphor, a spiritual fight, metaphor for the struggle. It's just the most amazing thing.
Speaker So eventually the friendship we got closer and closer and closer. We were invited over when he was freed, we became close. We helped raise some money for him. And it just eventually evolved into a sort of a brother, brother like relationship, I think is one of the greatest human beings that that that that leaders, world leaders have ever witnessed before because he gave me his name.
Speaker If you were in that same sentence.
Speaker Now, you know, Madiba, Nelson Mandela is is is the tallest standing leader I've ever I've ever come in contact with.
Speaker And I've seen him on the many different circumstances.
Speaker The day I was part of the American delegation, the day of his inauguration went over with Hillary and the Gores and Colin Powell, etc., and witnessed that Maya Angelou and witnessed that incredible day of where he had declared as a deputy president.
Speaker He put Buthelezi right down front in a place, a position of dignity. He took winning and put her on the on the stage. And everybody, Khadafi, Arafat, that's for everybody. All the world leaders are there. And he did this without bloodshed because he could have been very easy with what they went through. I've also witnessed the TTC committee with the Archbishop Tutu of the amnesty that they give and turn the other cheek at the attitude they have is amazing, but it's sad. So it is so progressive and beyond, I don't know, many countries that could could could deal with that kind of discipline. To be that fair, because my dad has always told me my problem in South Africa has never been about racism colors, you know, it's always been about a system that he would fight to because let's get real. Nelson Mandela and his people and Tambo, they were trained. They went up and trained in Algeria. You know, they knew of guerrilla warfare and everything was about it's not like there's some you know, my people, you know, exactly what was going on on all sides, that he made the choice and decision to let his people live and let the country not have bloodshed.
Speaker Thank you, Miles.
Speaker At Montereau, Bover talked about seeing the tape and being moved by it, Gerald Early speaks about it. David Baker and John, everyone says Miles time and time again had sworn never to play the old stuff, right. And you asked him to. Why do you ask?
Speaker I asked Miles, because no one since I think I could even hold my horn properly. I wanted it, wanted to and tried to play like Miles Davis because he was too hard to imitate.
Speaker And Miles was so cool. And he changed the sound of a of the trumpet. He's the Picasso of jazz. He really is. He went through just like the blue and the cubism and primitive and everything else. Miles did exactly the same thing and not followed it. He led it. He led all the movements he went through. And I finally got to meet him. In 1951, I was standing at the Downbeat Club and scared to death and wide eyed Seattle Green Cherki listened to Mingus and finally me. I said I heard some sucker on Lionel Hampton record trying to sound like me. I said, Oh my God. And it was mild. And he wanted to let me know that it was his way of saying hello in a way, you know. And we were friends until till he left.
Speaker You know, this is incredible, incredible of his paintings. For instance, he used to send paintings over to the house by the dozens and all the time. And just Vernon, his nephew, would bring them over. And I said, Miles, look, you know, I'm going to paint properly for these things and thought for Steve Ross Equiptment writes about and some of his paintings, Lionel, about some of the paintings, everybody's paintings, because he was beautiful.
Speaker And I said, but just sign the painting. And Picasso signed the painting.
Speaker Come on, man. Everybody knows as much as you.
Speaker Yeah, but please sign it, man. Please.
Speaker Like everybody else I've been doing for 3000 years, he said he was OK and I sent them back out and he sent all four corners. You couldn't tell which way it was supposed to go. I loved him to pieces. You know, everything about it. He was the biggest bark in the world.
Speaker Lot of lightning and thunder, but no rain.
Speaker I mean, in terms of his attitude, his persona, he was sweet and sensitive. It really was. You know, and I know that side of him very well.
Speaker And I know I'll never forget the feeling with two guys that that had that same image and that one of the first words of kindness to me, we came back from Hawaii and I got locked in the dressing room over the weekend and Sinatra showed up early that morning. Phil, are you like your eggs and Miles? I had pleurisy once at the Chateau Marmont and Miles and all that stuff.
Speaker So how do you like your eggs? And I'll never forget that.
Speaker I mean, the two two guys are supposed to be these, you know, macho dudes and all that that I know that sounds silly. You know what it's like? It's like it's almost like I love you, you know, it feels like I love you the way they did it because it was with such.
Speaker Hesitance, you know, but vulnerabilities, vulnerability.
Speaker Did you feel like this was, you know, the end of the road? Speak about that specific Montereau concern with this, the end of the road. Could you tell this? Was that the swan song, Miles?
Speaker Yeah, we did not have a clue of what happened as we had to Benschop, George Greenspan, Claude Nobs. And I graciously asked me to be a part of that production of the festival, which is was really an honor.
Speaker And George groundsMEn showed up and so did the leader that neither Evans, Gil Evans wife, they're both there. I mean, they bounce, you know, and I always girls love to talk about how the brass sometimes would blow the woodwinds, cluster's away in person.
Speaker I said, no, it's a pick, one that's used both of them. So it's like 10 French horns for oboes, two English horns and six or eight or 10 trumpets. It was amazing.
Speaker I asked them to just play soft with no vibrato, and it came off like a huge, beautiful purple and black velvet tapestry background and incredibly beautiful white and black pearl in the middle miles sitting there courageously, unapologetically battling his 25 year old brilliant solo.
Speaker At 65. Nobody had any idea he was that ill. Nobody at all. I was so shocked, I couldn't believe it. But I got to tell you, that night, after all the kicking and screaming and moaning and whining and everything else, he heard that sound. And while everybody was.
Speaker And I saw him actually smile at the audience and wave until I said, what are you looking at? It is a bad word. And he said, let's take it all over the world, man. I mean, he was so happy. I mean, that was my reward right there was that he was happy, you know, and I was like under protest.
Speaker I mean, he heard it was you know, he he got it, man.
Speaker He really did. And it was like he's in the rehearsals he had Wallace Roney played most of his parts because he didn't remember the solos, so they had him written out. Gil Goldstein, the solos written out. And Miles let Ronnie do it in the rehearsal. And we got the day I got it. He went for it and didn't flinch. And it's.
Speaker What's going on with Bono and the pope? What were you guys doing there? You know, speak to that and did Bono give the pope some shades to wear?
Speaker That's a good question. What a two Raggedy Irish rock and roll and a big brother from Chicago doing sitting up there in Castel Gandolfo, which is the summer Vatican, talking to the pope about relieving third world debt for the HIV Council.
Speaker I mean, I asked myself that when we were there, said, what are we doing? No, I mean, it was it was. But it's amazing because we went to see Robert Rubin first and I got my doctorate from NYU with him. And so we would see Robert Rubin and Jim Wolfensohn. And, you know, Bono saw last summer, I mean, really getting inside of this. And so they presented the mission statement. Bono gave him some dark shades and the pope put them on. He really, really put the put the saints on. And he had them on side like this. And the people around them, they didn't want them to take pictures of that because the top was really so down to earth and it was just beautiful.
Speaker Then he read his reaction to the mission statement supporting it. The notion of relieving the Third World debt and two days later, that was on a Thursday, I think in 1999 and September, and two and a half days later, I read in the Herald Tribune that twenty seven and a half billion dollars debt relief had been applied to Bolivia of the Ivory Coast and Mozambique. I couldn't believe it. I could not believe it. It was just incredible.
Speaker He had some cool shoes on. So I didn't I didn't believe that either, because I looked down and I saw all these other deals with the with with the industrial, you know, Vatican shoes on the Blackwood's. You know, he had on some burkeman the wing tip Macan shoes with little tan socks on.
Speaker I couldn't believe it. And I know his feet were hurting. You know, it was cool, beautiful presence, you know, just an incredible presence.
Speaker Why do you think you're so what explains your involvement with these different politicians? And and, you know, the last interview I started with this quote from your book, My entire career, my entire life has been based on trying to break down the walls between people of all colors throughout the world. And in a way, I all of a sudden it dawned on me that that's why you're hooking up with these politicians. But I sort of want to throw the question to you, which is, you know, since the listen up movie was made in 91, a good portion of your time and energy goes into dealing with world leaders. And the question is, what explains that, why at this point in your life are you trying to connect with those guys?
Speaker Well, the person my energy is that is not so much about world leaders. It's about world issues. Are you going to I think you're going to get more done when you deal with somebody that knows where all the LOPSA and the closets and all the skeletons are buried and know the inner workings of something. You know, in the old days, we used to go out in all corners and and and Thursday nights at a high school in Houston, Texas, and all that stuff in a Baptist church. You can't do that today. I mean, I'm too old for that anyway. And you need to find things that have a much bigger role and try to get it done another way, because we learn a certain thing with the we are the world thing. Everybody that Lionel and and Cragen and everybody about Belafonte, about what that's about. And we didn't we didn't realize that the pitfalls and that the one thing to raise the money and then to get the food, we couldn't even get airlifts to get the food over there to Ethiopia, please.
Speaker When it got there, they have a problems, the internal problems with each other, they put a million dollars worth of food in the desert. If they want to let it come and get there and it spoils. You know, it's amazing what what are the difficulties that were involved in trying to understand the politics?
Speaker All you've got charity organizations asking for money that spend 40 percent of it on overhead. We had a very powerful board of directors that really wanted to defend our names. And I didn't want it to be wanted to get the most mileage out of it. And you learn about Bonanos. I mean, if you're smart, you know, you're not going to go to some guy on the street, you know, throwing gas bombs at at at at the embassy to try to get something done because it'll blow his way through. You have to talk to somebody that understands the whole thing. I can't all politicians I can't deal with because I don't feel of. Any kinship with all politicians? I mean, I usually end up working with people that I feel their souls and they share their soul with me. I mean, that's that's the way we are as animals. No, you don't. I don't ever want to be in anything political or deal with politics. But if you're trying to talk to a country, I mean, it's just so easy to get something done in South Africa if you're talking to Adelaide Tambo or Nelson Mandela, Mbeki, you know, to get it done.
Speaker Somebody hanging out in the street like Mandela led me straight to the minister of education or Mbeki has sent me to his economic adviser, McCullogh. And I think that works that way all around town. And we the only thing I think that's valuable about having recognition as an artist, you know, and that respect or that whatever that is and that celebrity is to use that to try to do something that's useful.
Speaker I mean, otherwise, you know, we're naive and kidding ourselves, you know, and I like it because it's an effective way to get something major done. I think America should have a minister of culture. I really do. And I've just to talk to Tipper Gore and and Al Gore about that all the time and the and the Clintons, too. And maybe one day we will we all of our people in the world, we should have it.
Speaker You know that that's our soul. Our music is out of this country soul, whether they understand it or not, it's still it's soul and we thrive off of it. And I don't know, everybody does that, but they know how to do, you know.
Speaker You'd be a great man. I keep looking for the perfect title for this documentary. Minister of Culture, maybe.
Speaker Oh, no, no, no. And I put that in John Kennedy.
Speaker Don't ask me to. He did a book called 250 Ways to Make a Better America. We had a nice relationship.
Speaker And you've got George magazine. He was happy to tell me I got my own mail to, you know, have survived. And I've known them in Carolina when they were very young and are fantastic people.
Speaker But I had that in my. Everybody had the little.
Speaker Contribution of how to make it a better America. And one of the first things I said in that was that we have to pay a price to pay our teachers properly. We trust our whole future, all our youth and our teachers that just get dug around verbally and physically and economically. It's the same.
Speaker I just want to cover a couple other things, and then I think we're we're in good shape. One one area we didn't we didn't touch on the last interview, again, just in a nutshell, after Color Purple, you melt down and have like an out of body experience. So just briefly, take us to a place where you you know, you need to get your act together.
Speaker It's real simple, it's was the best of times, it's the sad and the worst of times, but just finished Thriller, we had just finished with the world. I wanted to go and take that opportunity to go in and see another territory, you know, with the most qualified people in the world. Say, with Steven Spielberg and Kathy Kennedy, et cetera, et cetera.
Speaker And Frank Marshall.
Speaker And I did, and I was like going to USC for ten years, being there. I wouldn't trade that. I didn't even listen to radio for two years.
Speaker And when we finished, I was so busy trying to figure out what happens with the script, this customs that in the process of filmmaking, learning from the best people on the planet that I forgot. Oh, my God. When we finished dinner, we left. We left. We had a wrap party and we left Carolina, North Carolina. We got home. And I said, right now we've got a scar.
Speaker Scar? My God, are you kidding me?
Speaker I've never even thought about it, you know, during that period because we were Russian and working very hard and.
Speaker I couldn't sleep, we had a schedule of about six weeks and I couldn't sleep, and so Dr. George said, I'll send you something to help you sleep. And unfortunately, it was Halcion. Now, Halcion, I discovered 10 months later, is a dream to private. They use it during the Korean War to interrogate prisoners, you know, and dream Diprivan. And it knocks you out. Straight out to sleep. And there's no dreams. So I didn't know that was a danger. And it can lead to schizophrenia. Very dangerous results.
Speaker You know, and to make a long story short, Dr. Larry Norton came to me one day from Sloan Kettering and said, you are in trouble. And I've just done T.J. myself. I was the honorary and we raised four million dollars. And so I came out here to tell you, you're in big trouble and you better stop now. Or you could it could be fatal. And I couldn't go right away. So I went to a place called Two Bunch Palms to get a little rest before I left for family. BRANDELL Let me have this place in Tahiti.
Speaker Tatura and I went over there and I didn't realize how sick I was and restless. No food, anhedonia. There's no joy, just everything was shattered, just shutting down. And he's that time not since I had adrenal syndrome, which all the organs start to shut down and you get restlessness and irritability and almost self-destruction. The end result of that and this experience in Tahiti was he said, go someplace where it's all nature and don't put a time on a time, a deadline on it.
Speaker And that's what I did when I came back. I was still sick and I couldn't face crowds. I could have looked people in the eye and. A beautiful French painter said to me, Naima. Their lawyer said. Let's make love, I said I can those words never came out of my mouth before and she said, Your Kundalini is gone.
Speaker I know it was in lots of sexual energy back here all up, and then then it started to feel like my soul was literally outside of my body. I could look in the window, I could look in the mirror. You know what? I was scared me to look at it, you know, and whatever happened there, it when it went out and I finally got back to Los Angeles and I called Dr. Norton and I said, I need to find a sanitarium. It's over skogen time. Right. Something I couldn't write my name. And he says, What have you been doing? So I've been taking house.
Speaker And he said, What are you crazy? And this is like that get you on Valium for 60 days. You need two dreams and you'll be OK.
Speaker I said I thought I was losing my mind and he said I got to get some value for 60 days will be fine. After two days of dreaming, you'll be on the way. I was so happy. And two days I just took a little bit of Valium.
Speaker I was straight and two days all the feeling came back into my body and everything was just like a rebirth, you know, was incredible, man. And it all came back and I started to cry. I couldn't do that during that time. And he said, You will never be crazy. And once this happens, you'll be fine.
Speaker And there it was, a two year very slow path back to normality.
Speaker You know, maybe then you're back on the block.
Speaker Back on the block. OK, I'm just going to triple check my questions.
Speaker Bill Clinton comparable to 80 miles, Mandela up on, um.
Speaker Let's just talk about what we were doing yesterday. What's the hardest part about pulling together a box set of your life's work? I mean, you were cutting stuff out. Well, why are you cutting portions of songs? What is it about putting together that box set? That's hard.
Speaker Well, number one.
Speaker You're dealing with a body of work, and so you can't be as. Generous with with time, the biggest restrictions, you'll get 70 minutes on each CD. That's really what that's about. So you've got to decide what you want to do, whether you want to use that room, you know, do you want to stay out of that one song or six minutes long and play it 20 times, you know, or do you want to give more of a song that has more shape to it and more structure to it?
Speaker So, yes, architecture, it's as simple as that architecture and sonic balance. You know, you're trying to get there and also presentation because we started the first part off, which is called Something in the Woodshed, which is the very beginning from Kingfish on